SAO PAULO, Brazil – BRF SA recently announced the creation of Sadia Halal, a subsidiary that will produce, distribute and sell products for markets that serve Muslim consumers, the latest sign that the Sao Paulo-based food manufacturer has its sights set on expansion in the Middle East.

“The purpose is to grant more independence and focus to BRF businesses relating to Muslim markets,” the company said in a news release. “In this context, BRF will analyze strategic alternatives for Sadia Halal, enabling the development of its expansion, in current markets as well as in those not currently served by BRF.”

In April, the company reached an agreement to acquire Al Khan Foodstuff LLC, a frozen food distributor based in Oman, Jordan. BRF, one of the world’s largest food companies, already owned a 40 percent stake in AKF. Additionally, the company already operates a processed foods plant in the United Arab Emirates.

BRF CEO Pedro Faria, told analysts in May that the company is ramping up production of processed foods in the Middle East. For the first quarter of 2016, BRF reported 27.1 percent growth in volume of processed products sold in the region. For example, he said “…on the poultry part we’re now solidly moving into three shifts of that plant and we’re even sourcing high value-added poultry cuts from Brazil in a new wave of integration.”

“I think the main message here is, yes we’re growing 27 percent year-on-year on the high value-added offering,” Faria explained. “Now that we’re integrating the Thailand platform, it will become also a supplier of Abu Dhabi factory in a way that we can source very interesting products from Thailand, further process them into Abu Dhabi and then onto Saudi.”

Faria added that Saudi Arabia doesn’t have certifications approved for Thailand factories but BRF can further process in Abu Dhabi, which allows BRF to tap into that market.