The project aims to add value to cows and make them surrogate bellies for wagyu, animals worth twice the price
Entrepreneur André Santin has become well-known among São Paulo chefs by supplying top-notch piglets to award-winning restaurants. Although his original area of activity was judicial recovery, he assumed the mission of “raising the quality of animal protein consumption by supporting small producers”.
He recently developed a project to increase the longevity of dairy cows with the support of Leftbank and now adds the noble wagyu to his endeavor. Santan’s new challenge, an agrotech he created in 2018, was developed together with a team of veterinarians from the University of Passo Fundo.
The proposal is to select ranchers and monitor cows from inovulation (implantation of the fertilized egg) to the weaning of the wagyuzinho. The businessman grew up close to pastures, but, as a butcher’s son, he was closer to cold storage rooms in Barracão, a small town in southwest of Paraná, on the border with Santa Catarina and Argentina.
Hence your interest transform the life of the small breeder in this region through the gestation ofthe Japanese bovine breed that has the best level of marbling in the world. “We thought of an unbeatable way to add value to the cows in the region: to make them surrogate bellies for animals that are worth at least twice their price.”
At the tip of a pencil, an embryo costs R$2,000, while technical assistance and creation cost another R$1,000. With R$ 3 thousand, all the costs of the process are covered until the animal is eight months old, when it will be worth about R$ 12 thousand.
Up to that point, the calf grows free, in properties with up to four animals, whose management is defined by Professor Ricardo Zanella, specialized in genetics and animal improvement. Then, it will be up to Santan to sell him for a period of up to 48 months of fattening.
Although the company can offer supervision in this period of four years and even articulate the sales of the meat that can reach the value of R$ 1.3 thousand per kilo, the idea is to stop at the steer. With all this optimism of the calculations, the perspective is to start the implantation in the next month of May.
In the first three months, 50 embryos will be inoculated monthly. In the following quarter, there will be 100 embryos and, from the seventh month of implementation, 150. Thus, in four years, every month, 50 wagyus will be ready for consumption and, in five years, Santin will have a case with 1.1 thousand animals.
It all started with pigs
His project with wagyu is very different from what has been done since 2018 with pigs. At the time, the entrepreneur intended to open a restaurant in Curitiba. Without finding excellent meats, he returned to Barracão and was taken aback: “The rural worker was to God will give. We started to provide piglets, structure for raising, natural food and technical assistance to ensure a premium standard”.
A pig farmer was not born there, but the startup Santan and the objective of producing meat “high gastronomy level” and, through an application (in development), competitively reach the final consumer as well.
In practice, the “abandoned” pigs, when sold, were worth around R$ 7 per kilo. With an average contribution of BRL 20,000 to 23 rural properties, however, this meat has increased in value by almost 400%, as the investment in infrastructure, puppies and veterinary advice implied a superior product, currently sold at up to BRL 35 per kilo.
Proud of the results, André, a regular at the best restaurants in São Paulo, started to give samples to chefs. The returns were so positive that today these cooks are the main consumers – Santan-labeled pigs are available in restaurants at Rosewood, Fasano and Maní.
“I see a certain heroism in creating a noble line of meats not only for gastronomy professionals through a fair and equitable business model”, he is proud, who is already considering investors to spread wagyus across the country.
Former student leader, Paraná studied social sciences, but made a fortune as a creditor of judicial reorganizations. He left that behind to, at age 50, generate buzz in the gastronomic circuits thanks to Vila Santan, in Barracão (PR), an experience center with experimental cuisine that puts chefs in contact with producers, ingredients and recipes from their border region.
More: it is about to inaugurate an even more audacious Vila Santan in São Paulo. This one, at the top of the Municipal Market, with an investment of R$ 12.5 million and opening scheduled for the second half of this year.
“Mercadão receives 15,000 people a day, but it doesn’t have a butcher shop or a fishmonger with a grill for tasting, it doesn’t have a bakery, an ice cream shop, a bakery or a restaurant displaying the best inputs from small producers in Brazil. That will change”, promises Santin.
“Old Cow” Financing
Capable of sounding megalomaniac: while keeping the swine project in full swing, the wagyu about to start and the Mercadão in progress with sidings and captures, he is also working on a dairy front, the “Vaca Velha”.
A cow can live 20 years. However, when crossing the “maturity” of five years (and about three or four lactations), it is often “discarded”. Therefore, working on its longevity is a way to amortize costs and improve the economic result of milk production.
“With the Vaca Velha Project, we avoid abandonment and teach the breeder to value an animal that will have an intense flavor and that is great for dry age (dry maturation process)”. A subject that already has chefs like Peruvian Renzo Garibaldi (from Cór Gastronomia), Oscar Bosch (from Tanit) and Pier Paolo Picchi (from Picchi) following closely.
In addition to them, the sustainable proposal was embraced by LeftBank. In practice, the microcredit bank will provide R$ 2,500 per animal to motivate the producer to keep it. With this, the cow that would be “discard” is now fattened calmly under the auspices of veterinarians to be sold for a minimum value of R$ 6 thousand.
“Without this money, the rural worker cannot feed the animal that stops giving milk”, reinforces the entrepreneur who, in this process, becomes the producer’s guarantor, confident in the “return and in the conscious and humane business model”.
The success in this endeavor, by the way, reinforces the high stakes in the wagyus: “If there is a market for old cows, can you imagine for a beautiful cut of the best meat in the world?”