Plurality is a staple of agribusiness in Minas Gerais. Climate diversity, soil and topography in the state favors the establishment of enterprises for the economic production of any number of products. The Minas Gerais agribusiness GDP was 13.6% of Brazilian agribusiness in 2015.
Brazil is the world´s largest sugar producer and exporter and the second largest ethanol producer. In this scenario, Minas Gerais was the third largest producer of ethanol and the second largest producer of sugar in the country in 2015/2016. Besides having favorable climate and fertile soil conditions, the state also has a favorable tax policy, making it possible to produce ethanol at very competitive prices. The sugar-energy sector is present today in 130 municipalities with plantations on 929 thousand hectares.
Minas Gerais has a very diversified beverage sector, producing “cachaça”, beer, soft drinks, juices, energy drinks, among others. Amid the state´s highlights, there is AMBEV – with 4 plants in the state and a factory that will be built in Uberlândia, projected as the largest in the world. The FEMSA Coca-Cola factory in Itabirito is the most modern of the group. The state also has a significant sector of boutique/special beers, with companies, such as Wäls, Backer, Falke Bier, Krug Bier and others.
Minas Gerais is Brazil´s largest coffee producer, with over 50% of total production. Coffee leads the state´s international agribusiness sales and is the second highest export product after iron ore. The conditions in the south of Minas Gerais make it the leading coffee producer in the country. Minas Gerais has the largest concentration of coffee producing regions according to the Brazilian Association of Special Coffees (Associação Brasileira de Cafés Especiais).
The food sector in Minas Gerais is extremely diversified. The state produces non-processed, lightly processed and industrialized foods. Among the hundreds of companies in the state of Minas Gerais we have Bauducco/Pandurata, Kopenhagen, Unilever, Yoki, Cargill, Algar, and others.
According to IBGE (Brazilian Statistics Department), Minas Gerais is the largest milk producer in Brazil. In 2014, it produced 9.36 billion liters, 26.63% of national production. 2014 data of USDA (US Department of Agriculture) shows Brazil as the fifth largest world producer, after the European Union, India, the US and China. The processing and production of dairy products is carried out in over 700 dairy plants throughout the state. Some of the main industries in the state are: Danone, Itambé, Embaré and Cemil.
Minas Gerais has scientific and technological institutions that are references in animal and plant improvement. Embrapa and Epamig stand out in the protection of cultivars. Both have collaboration agreements with Minas Gerais universities, such as Ufla, UFV and UFU. UFV has projects in the Plant Sciences area for genetic improvement in agriculture. In Uberaba, there is the Excellence Hub in Bovine Genetics in the headquarters of the Brazilian Association of Zebu Breeders (ABCZ), created in 2009, with the objective of zebu genetic improvement in Minas Gerais.
Minas Gerais has the second largest cattle herd in the country, with about 23.5 million heads of cattle, that is, 11.2% of the Brazilian herd (according to 2014 data from IBGE). Data from slaughter houses inspected by federal, state and municipal agencies published by IBGE informs that, in 2014, 2.3 million cattle were slaughtered in Minas Gerais, out of a national total of 33.9 million, making Minas Gerais responsible for 9.4% of the national total. The slaughter rate in Minas Gerais, the percentage of inspected slaughter to the cattle herd , was 13.7% in the state, and 16% nationwide.
There are 244 thousand farm, animal farming, forestry and fishing workers in the state of Minas Gerais. Technical training is provided specially by Senar Minas. The Cândido Tostes Dairy Institute is a highlight in the training of technicians in dairy production. Higher education is provided by federal universities in the state, which are references in agricultural education in Brazil, such as UFV, UFTM and Ufla. According to Crea-MG there are over eleven thousand agronomists, food engineers and other related areas professionals registered in Minas Gerais.