Over the past 20 years, Brazil emerged as U.S. farmers’ main rival in the global export markets, with significant trade in corn, soybeans, cotton, coffee, sugar, beef, and several other commodities. With a seemingly ideal climate, large landmass, and inexpensive labor, farms and agribusiness entities in the country continue to exploit their competitive advantages on the global stage.
One of the biggest challenges to Brazil exerting dominance as the low-cost commodity producer on the planet is its significant lack of infrastructure relative to the U.S. In addition to poorer roads, lack of rail and failure to exploit inland waterways, the industry frequently falls prey to major labor issues, such as the May 2018 trucker strike that led to the culling of 65 million head of poultry and the shutdown of nearly 200 pork and poultry plants.
Visiting the country and touring some of its most successful agribusiness enterprises is an eye-opening experience. Walking through citrus orchards, coffee groves and sugarcane fields stretching as far as the eye can see, one can’t help but wonder what Brazil might accomplish if it were to overcome the country’s political corruption, wildly fluctuating currency exchange rates and lack of transportation infrastructure.
Feedstuffs colleague Andy Vance recently traveled to Brazil as part of the Purdue MS-MBA in Food and Agribusiness Management program, visiting the University of São Paulo and studying international ag business strategy. Highlighted in this gallery are some of his photos and observations from the tour of the state of São Paulo, the wealthiest of Brazil’s 26 states. São Paulo accounts for more than one-third of the country’s GDP and is the country’s most populous state with more than 45 million inhabitants.