2019 was a challenging year for us at Athena Foods, despite the fact that the achievements exceeded all expectations in regards to efficiency, operational capacity, and economic-financial results. Our operations are carried out in five different countries, each with its own characteristics and market scenarios, and yet we were able to take advantage of the excellent business opportunities, especially those presented by the high demand from China. We have maintained our position as the leader in beef exports in South America, increasing our gross revenue to US$ 1.9 billion, 6.7% higher than in 2018.
It was the first year in which we acted from beginning to end under the pioneering vocation of our parent company, Minerva Foods, which throughout its history has faced all adversities and has positioned itself ahead of the development of its sector. It is a Company that keeps its eye on innovation and management discipline – characteristics that are also embedded within our own DNA.
We understand the dynamics of the meat business and are committed to adopting the best practices in regards to governance, processes, production, efficiency programs and sustainability criteria. Our goal is to become a benchmark within the sector. To become a leader in all countries where we are present, a reality that is already present in Argentina, Colombia and Paraguay.
With a focus on sustainability, we have adopted a management that is focused on innovation and practices at a high level of excellence, offering the market a traceability system with geospatial monitoring that ensures environmental compliance, labor and land regularity in the supplier portfolio.
Currently, this is a process that our parent company, Minerva Foods, carries out in the Amazon biome and we, at Athena Foods, have pioneered procedures in the Paraguayan Chaco biome, mapping and monitoring more than 50% of registered suppliers. It is an excellent index for an operation that has been in operation for a little over a year. This work has been extended to other countries by mapping through the work of local legislation, providing public and official information bases to define the social and environmental criteria which should be established.
In 2019, we strengthened the teams in all our operations, striving to establish committed, fulfilled and motivated teams, a condition we believe is fundamental to become even more innovative and consistent in conquering markets in global trade. To this end, we have invested in training and professional development, as well as adopting measures to ensure the health, well-being and safety of all our employees.
In the process, we have learned that each country has its own unique qualities. People develop behaviors that are shaped by their own culture, as do companies, hence we value the positive aspects of each of these characteristics. We always search for the best results, always with consideration for the local culture and to promote, with respect and awareness, the changes that we deem to be productive for everyone.