Jugos del Uruguay bought the Pili plant and moved it to Fray Bentos

The cheese plant of the Pili dairy industry in Paysandú —in bankruptcy since 2018— was acquired by Jugos del Uruguayreported La Diario. As reported to El Observador by the trustee of Pili, Fernando Cabrera —from the Trade Defense League—, Jugos del Uruguay made an offer for those assets, it was accepted by BROU —the main creditor—, there were no objections, so the judge ended up accepting this operation.

as he knew The Observer, the Jugos del Uruguay plant had long had intentions of expanding its packing plant in Fray Bentos. In turn, the multinational Marfrig —which operates its corned beef plant in Fray Bentos on its property— had the need to incorporate the boilers used by the Pili plant to improve its industrial process from an environmental point of view. For that reason, the The Pili cheese plant in Paysandú will be dismantled to be transferred to the Jugos del Uruguay facility in Fray Bentos. Jugos del Uruguay uses the brand BIG C in the local square

The sale of the plant’s machinery took place on August 31 and since that date the former Pili workers were left without unemployment insurance coverage, a mechanism that had been extended for four years. The Pili union leader, Marcelo Petrib, informed La Diaria that 70% of labor loans are still owed to some 200 people, at a rate of about US$10,000 per worker. Although the union had the expectation that the sale of the plant would pay off the debt, this did not happen because that asset was pledged by BROU. Now it is expected that the auction of the Pili brand, scheduled for next September 27, can be used for that purpose.

The search that did not prosper

When he entered the bankruptcy proceedings in August 2018, Pili had a liability of around US$60 million. Her main creditor was the Republic Bank with which he had a debt of about US$ 40 million. The state bank had agreed to finance a new state-of-the-art industrial plant for cheese production. However, the exit from the Venezuelan market for Pili and a low reception of milk for its installed capacity made the industrial operation unfeasible. The plant had a capacity for about 400,000 liters per day and processed about 100,000 liters at the time of its closure.

Both the previous administration of the Broad Front and the current one of President Lacalle Pou sought in various instances for a private party to take charge of the industrial enterprise. There were surveys, signs of interest, but no specific proposal on the table that would allow Pili’s operations to be refloated. The main obstacle —just like other small and medium-sized industries face— is the lack of milk or basins to meet the demand of these industrial complexes. Last year, Uruguay, the main producer of milk in the country, the multinational Olam, decided to close its dairy farms, for which some 300,000 liters of milk were lost daily.

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