Brazilian Meatpacker JBS Wrangles the U.S. Beef Industry

How a Brazilian butcher shop became a $50 billion behemoth
Photograph by Balazs Gardi for Bloomberg Businessweek

Blood is everywhere in JBS’s vast slaughterhouse in Greeley, Colo., north of Denver. It’s puddled on concrete floors, smeared on workers’ white smocks, gushing from cattle knifed on the killing floor. The smell hangs on the air in a high-ceilinged room chilled to about 40F, where JBS employees in shiny black and white helmets toil at chopping tables along both sides of a conveyor belt. A sign identifies it as the “LOIN” line. With hooks in one hand and knives with flexible 6- to 8-inch blades in the other, they trim fat and pare as much muscle from the bone and vertebrae as they can, turning raw slabs into tenderloins and New York strips.

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