MOSCOW – Laboratory tests on frozen beef and poultry meat produced by Minerva S.A. and Marfrig Alimentos S.A. returned positive results for Listeria, according to Rosselkhoznadzor, Russia's veterinary and phytosanitary inspection agency.

"Due to the repeated non-compliances identified in respect of plants No. 431 and No. 3047, the Rosselkhoznadzor considers it necessary to introduce temporary restrictions on importation of their products into the Russian market," the agency said. "The products of plant No. 576 are subject to enhanced laboratory monitoring."

São Paulo, Brazil-based Marfrig said in a statement posted on the company website, "it has not received any notification regarding this matter and, if confirmed, its exports to Russia will continue to be made through the other production units of the Seara and Marfrig Beef divisions in Brazil, with no impact on its sales volumes to the country.

The company said first quarter 2013 sales to Russia accounted for 5.3 percent of Marfrig's total exports and 1.7 percent of its consolidated revenue.

"The strategy of the Marfrig Group has always been based on diversifying across geographic regions and proteins, with this Global Platform enabling it to overcome any trade and sanitary barriers by redirecting production to other units, regions or countries without suffering any impacts on its production levels," the company added.

In other company news, Marfrig announced plans to sell and close four Seara Brasil plants and distribution centers by June 30 in order to cut its debt by R$2 billion ($996 million) after the company posted a second quarter loss.

Marfrig said it would transfer equipment to other plants for an immediate savings of R$23 million ($11.2 million) and R$33 million annually ($16.1 million annually). Closing the four distribution centers will net a projected savings of up to R$20 million ($9.8 million) and R$38 million annually ($18.5 million annually). Marfrig said the plants "structurally are poorly positioned".

Seara Brasil produces processed pork, poultry and turkey products for domestic consumption and export.
Additionally, Marfrig said it would close two beef slaughter plants in Argentina, with an estimated savings of R$30 million ($14.6 million).