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SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazil's JBS SA (JBSS3.SA), the world's largest meat processor, for the first time imported fresh beef from the United States into the country in a bid to develop a niche market for a more marbled version of a cut known locally as "picanha," sometimes referred to as top sirloin cap.
JBS's imports of such a cut from the U.S. may reach at least 150 tonnes per month, according to initial management projections. This is the equivalent of around 10 percent of JBS's production of top sirloin cap in Brazil, executives told Reuters in an interview Tuesday.
Brazilian imports of U.S. fresh beef were authorized last year, in a bilateral deal that also allowed Brazilian beef to enter the United States. JBS's move underscores the company's belief it can sell a product of higher value even as import tariffs are levied just above 10 percent.
"Brazilians enjoy their meat and there is consumption potential to be explored," said Bassem Sami Akl Akl, technical director at JBS's meat division. "This market tends to grow a lot," he said
Antônio Souza, JBS meat's commercial director, said the company has not defined a sale price for the imported sirloin cut, which initially will be sold to the main restaurants of São Paulo.
At a later stage, the company may distribute it more widely in Brazil, Souza said.
The first shipment, which arrived at the Santos port, has been cleared and is currently at a JBS storage facility. On Wednesday, the container will be opened at a symbolic event in the presence of U.S. government representatives, JBS executives said.
Reporting by Roberto Samora and Alonso Soto; Writing by Ana Mano; Editing by Bernard Orr and Diane Craft