The cities of the state of São Paulo wake up for another day. Meanwhile, in the countryside, the work began at dawn. Despite having a highly urbanized profile, São Paulo is also a place of strong rural production. The state is Brazil’s leading producer and exporter of agricultural products. The success of agribusiness in São Paulo has a long history. Its production chain combines tradition with advanced research and technology.

The State of São Paulo has the largest and most modern agro-industrial system in the country and one of the most expressive in the world. With a total territory of 24.8 million hectares of tropical climate, fertile soil and abundant water, 13.4 million hectares of land are intended for agriculture (54.03%) and 4.6 million hectares (18.6%) for pasture. 

Agribusiness production in the state generated a GDP of approximately R$ 268 billion in 2017, reaching a 12.8% share of the state’s economy. It is also one of the sectors that most generate jobs, accounting for 23.15% of formal employment relationships.

Agribusiness is a very broad field of activity and encompasses the following segments: inputs, primary, industrial and services.

  • Inputs segment: fuels, fertilizers, pesticides, animal feed, mineral salt and veterinary drugs, agricultural machinery and equipment.
  • Primary segment: agriculture and livestock.
  • Industrial segment: coffee, starch products, sugar, ethanol, paper making, orange juice, beverages, textiles, clothing, wood products, wood furniture and pulp.
  • Service segment: commercialization and distribution services agricultural and agroindustrial products.

The complexity combined with the sophistication of the production structure places the state’s agricultural field as one of the most developed on the planet. And to remain at the forefront of the sector worldwide, high investments are made in scientific research for the development of agricultural innovations. People often do not know, but they are consuming a lot of technology produced in the state in the food they eat.

In the public area, São Paulo’s Agency for Agribusiness Technology (APTA) of the Department of Agriculture and Supply, has the mission of coordinating and managing the science and technology activities focused on agribusiness. Its structure comprises the Agronomic Institute (IAC), Biological Institute (IB), Institute of Agricultural Economics (IEA), Fisheries Institute (IP), Food Technology Institute (ITAL) and Institute of Animal Science (IZ), in addition to 14 Regional Hubs strategically distributed across the State of São Paulo and the Department of Strategic Management (DGE).

The public universities of São Paulo have a prominent role in scientific research focused on agribusiness. The School of Agriculture “Luiz de Queiroz” (ESALQ) of USP, in the city of Piracicaba, is one of the stars of this research network. It ranks among the top 5 agrarian science colleges in the world according to the ranking produced by the US publisher News and World Report.

The highly qualified human capital causes the state to concentrate 50% of Brazilian Agritechs - agribusiness startups.  The technology developed in the state allows the rural production of São Paulo to report high performance in several agricultural crops.

Rural products ensure food for the population and also provide raw materials for the industrial segment that dominates some global markets. In addition to the production of sugarcane and orange, flagships of agricultural farms, there are other crops  that generate wealth in the countryside of the state.

Livestock activity has a significant share in the state of São Paulo. Agribusiness production related to the segment amounted to R$ 48 billion in 2017. The cattle raising areas in São Paulo produced R$ 7.8 billion in cattle, which represents 10.33% of the Brazilian production. The egg sector, for example, accounted for 23.35% of Brazilian production, this meant a production of R$ 3.4 billion in monetary terms.

It is in the industrial segment that the state agribusiness shows all its strength. It accounts for 41% of the GDP of the sector, with a turnover of R$ 112 billion. The mills in the state process sugarcane to produce ethanol and sugar. The state is the world’s largest producer of ethanol from sugarcane, accounting for 48% of the Brazilian production. The sugar and ethanol complex accounted for 43% of total exports from São Paulo in 2016, totaling US$ 7.8 billion.

The state is the world’s largest producer of orange juice, accounting for 58% of the juice industrially produced on the planet. Of every 10 glasses of orange juice consumed in the world, nearly six are from São Paulo.

São Paulo is a large meat processor. In 2016, meat producers in the state exported more than 370,000 tons, which generated R$ 1.6 billion in revenue and represented 29.8% of the total exported by the country.

Reaching this production level requires agricultural machinery and implements. Thus, the inputs segment of the state also reports impressive figures. The share of the state's industrial park of agricultural machinery and equipment in relation to Brazil represents:

  • 34% of manufacturing units
  • 41% of employed persons
  • 38% of net revenues
  • 38% of industrial production
  • 39% of the value of industrial transformation

Land, work, tradition and technology are components of the success of the state countryside. We showed only a few highlights of one of the most important sectors of the economy.

São Paulo State ― 2017-2018: Agrobusiness exports, by products
Produts 2017 Part. % 2018 Part. % Var. %
Total 18,832,760,554 100.00% 16,408,850,579 100.00% -12.87%
Cane or beet sugar and chemically pure sucrose, in solid form 7,488,698,733 39.76% 4,162,635,100 25.37% -44.41%
Fruit juices (including grape must) and vegetable juices, unfermented and not containing added spirit, whether or not containing added sugar or other sweetening matter 1,851,442,033 9.83% 1,962,807,891 11.96% 6.02%
Soya beans, whether or not broken 1,279,459,988 6.79% 1,622,663,542 9.89% 26.82%
Meat of bovine animals, frozen 854,393,417 4.54% 1,061,029,827 6.47% 24.19%
Undenatured ethyl alcohol of an alcoholic strength by volume of 80 % vol or higher; ethyl alcohol and other spirits, denatured, of any strength 786,304,887 4.18% 829,192,239 5.05% 5.45%
Uncoated paper and paperboard, of a kind used for writing, printing or other graphic purposes, and non-perforated punch-cards and punch tape paper, in rolls or rectangular (including square) sheets, of any size, other than paper of heading No 4801 or 4803 608,411,026 3.23% 671,118,942 4.09% 10.31%
Chemical wood pulp, soda or sulphate, other than dissolving grades 572,219,981 3.04% 655,846,522 4% 14.61%
Other prepared or preserved meat, meat offal or blood 360,375,302 1.91% 423,528,983 2.58% 17.52%
Essential oils (terpeneless or not), including concretes and absolutes; resinoids; extracted oleoresins; concentrates of essential oils in fats, in fixed oils, in waxes or the like, obtained by enfleurage or maceration; terpenic by-products of the deterpe 385,604,971 2.05% 408,420,852 2.49% 5.92%
Coffee, whether or not roasted or decaffeinated; coffee husks and skins; coffee substitutes containing coffee in any proportion 436,303,860 2.32% 357,917,876 2.18% #CAMPO!
Meat and edible offal, of the poultry of heading No 0105, fresh, chilled or frozen 375,890,222 2% 336,649,896 2.05% #CAMPO!
Others products 3,833,656,134 20.36% 3,917,038,909 23.87% 2.18%
Source: MAPA, MDIC and IEA.          

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