Cristal Alimentos

Shining on the plates of millions of Brazilians 🎞️

Over the last 60 years, Cristal Alimentos, a family-owned business in Brazil, has won the hearts of Brazilian consumers with a key component of the country’s basic food basket: rice. Now, the company, which also processes beans, sugar, and flour, has reached new heights and made its debut in the pasta market with a state-of-the-art plant in Goiás with a capacity of 10 tonnes per hour.

The celebrated Brazilian composer and musician Tom Jobim once said: “Brazil is not for beginners.” This is a complex market with its own nuances, uncertainties, and ambiguities. But it is also a continental country, vibrant with its unique mix of cultures and flavors, and a land full of opportunities. That is where this story takes place. Almost 60 years ago, the Brazilian Walterdan Fernandes Madalena, who was already helping his family at their grocery store in Tesouro, a small city in the state of Mato Grosso in central-west Brazil, decided to start a new venture. With little financial resources available, the young entrepreneur bought a rice milling machine – a manually operated piece of equipment with a capacity to process 60 kilograms of the commodity per day. His dream was to produce high-quality, safe, crystal-clear rice to feed Brazilian consumers.  

Brazil, today a country of 215 million people, is a rice-and-beans nation. Rice is part of the daily meal of almost every Brazilian family. Recent estimates indicate that Brazilians consume approximately 
12 million tonnes of rice annually. Therefore, good quality, safe, and affordable rice has always been in demand across the world’s fifth largest country 
by size. With that in mind, Walterdan Fernandes Madalena kept chasing his dream.

 

In 2000, Cristal Alimentos moved to a new and bigger facility, spanning an area of 250,000 square meters. In 2000, Cristal Alimentos moved to a new and bigger facility, spanning an area of 250,000 square meters. In 2000, Cristal Alimentos moved to a new and bigger facility, spanning an area of 250,000 square meters.

Step by step to industrial production

He started small, selling his product to local retailers and street market traders in the region. In 1957, his father decided to leave Tesouro and move to Goiânia, a bigger city and the capital of the state of Goiás, still in the central-west of the country. Walterdan Fernandes Madalena moved with his family but stuck to his plans. He was able to buy new machines and increase production. In 1965, his small company was processing eight bags, each weighing 60 kilograms, per hour. Ten years later, production jumped to 15 bags per hour. The rice looked so pure that consumers described it as crystal, a pure product with no chemical additives or preservatives and a high standard of quality. In fact, “purity in the form of grains” (in Portuguese, ʻpureza em forma de grãosʼ) became the slogan of Cristal’s rice. 

In tune with customer demands, the company kept expanding its portfolio by processing new types of rice. In 2000, with the transfer to a new and 
bigger facility, spanning an area of 250,000 square meters, production quadrupled. “It has been an amazing journey. Step by step we were able to position our rice in the daily lives of so many families. Because we prioritize quality, safety, and affordability, we were able to connect to consumers and build a trusted relationship,” explains Marcelo Madalena, Managing Director of Cristal Alimentos and son of Walterdan Fernandes Madalena. Walterdan is 79 years old and still very actively involved in the company’s day-to-day business. Today, consumers associate the Cristal Alimentos brand with attributes such as tradition, solidity, and stability.

Entrepreneurial spirit in the family: Marcelo Madalena, Managing Director of Cristal Alimentos, and his father Walterdan Fernandes Madalena, who founded the company. Entrepreneurial spirit in the family: Marcelo Madalena, Managing Director of Cristal Alimentos, and his father Walterdan Fernandes Madalena, who founded the company. Entrepreneurial spirit in the family: Marcelo Madalena, Managing Director of Cristal Alimentos, and his father Walterdan Fernandes Madalena, who founded the company.
Because we prioritize quality, safety, and affordability, we were able to connect to consumers and build a trust relationship.

Marcelo Madalena, Managing Director of Cristal Alimentos

Feeding a nation in times of crisis

In fact, the rice was just the beginning of Cristal’s path to success. In recent years, the company has expanded its portfolio of products and kept its eyes on Brazil’s staple foods, which include beans, pasta, sugar, oils, and flour. “This is our business. This is our focus. We put all our energy, expertise, and investments in producing high-quality, safe, and affordable food that makes up the major part of a population's diet,” explains Lana Rubia Silva Barbosa, Industrial Manager at Cristal Alimentos. With that kind of mindset, Cristal, with its 1,100 employes, does everything possible to ensure that the food reaches the consumer's table. “In 2020, during the Covid-19 pandemic, we decided to keep up production – in the safest way possible for all employees. We knew 
how important our role was to keep feeding our 
customers in such a critical and uncertain time,” says Marcelo Madalena. “Very aware of the economic pressures, we also decided in some cases to not pass on increased costs of raw materials, energy, and supplies to the customer.”

  • Who: Cristal Alimentos
  • Where: Goiânia (Goiás), Brazil
  • When: Founded in 1956.
  • What: Cristal Alimentos is a processor of rice, beans, flour, sugar, and pasta in Brazil.
  • Customers: Cristal Alimentos sells its products to retailers and mid-sized shops in several states in the northern, central, and southern parts of Brazil.
  • Bühler: Cristal Alimentos initially invested in Bühler’s equipment for cleaning and sorting rice. A few years ago, 
it started to produce pasta using three modern C-Line pasta solutions from Bühler.

Fighting food insecurity in Brazil

Although the escalation of hunger in Brazil, and 
globally, was exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic and recent geopolitical crises, food insecurity in 
the country is the result of a sum of factors involving previous economic, social, and geographic aspects. According a 2023 a survey by the Food and 
Agriculture Organization, more than 15 million Brazilians face serious food insecurity – and a total of 70.3 million Brazilians face some degree of food insecurity, characterized as moderate or severe. From 2014, Brazil had been considered to have eradicated hunger. 

In 2013, the rate of moderate and severe food insecurity was at 7.8 percent, compared to 
16.8 percent approximately one decade earlier, in 2003. Some of the factors impacting the capacity of families to have access to sufficient, safe, and healthy food in the country include the rise in unemployment, a decrease in income, inflation, and the weakening of social programs and public policies focused on protecting and promoting food and nutritional security. 

Food insecurity is not limited to hunger and is not only defined by a reduction of the amount of food ingested. There are cases, for example, where families experience food insecurity when they need to replace healthy foods with cheaper, less nutritious ones.

One of the multiple solutions in addressing food security, which should be part of an extensive and systemic approach, is guaranteeing good quality, safe, nutritious, and affordable food to everyone, experts recommend. Brazil is the world’s fourth-largest food exporter and has sufficient production capacities to meet its internal and external demand. 

Working towards offering safe, nutritious, and affordable food can make a huge difference. Because of its entrepreneurial background, grounded and solid management of resources, and investment in innovation, Cristal Alimentos is in a position to contribute to addressing these challenges, in particular in the regions where its core business focus lies. Currently, Cristal sells its products to retailers and mid-sized shops in several states in the northern, central, and southern parts of Brazil such as Pará, Maranhão, Bahia, Tocantins, Amazonas, Goiás, Brasília, Mato Grosso, and Minas Gerais with a combined population of about 100 million people. 

“Our priority is to be always there for our customers. This means, for example, being able to respond to new orders in 24 hours,” says Marcelo Madalena. “We have been investing heavily in logistics, which is very challenging in Brazil. We take care of and train our people, so we can ensure that the customers are not only served well when buying our products, but also in the after-sales period.” 

Adding pasta to the menu

With the Bühler Insights platform, Lana Rubia Silva Barbosa, Industrial Manager at Cristal Alimentos, and her team closely monitor and control production. With the Bühler Insights platform, Lana Rubia Silva Barbosa, Industrial Manager at Cristal Alimentos, and her team closely monitor and control production. With the Bühler Insights platform, Lana Rubia Silva Barbosa, Industrial Manager at Cristal Alimentos, and her team closely monitor and control production.

Bühler has been collaborating with Cristal Alimentos for more than 30 years. In the first stage, the company invested in Bühler’s equipment for cleaning and sorting rice – today, Cristal has 20 Sortex machines. A few years ago, Cristal decided to take a brave step forward and start to produce pasta. As it was a completely new market for Cristal, the company needed a trusted partner. Bühler was ready to support with its technical and engineering know-how. “We started to manufacture pasta due to our partnership with Bühler. The relationship of trust and constant support at all stages of the project has made a huge 
difference for us. The combination of experience, expertise, and project management was outstanding,” explains Marcelo Madalena.

We started to manufacture pasta due to our partnership with Bühler. The relationship of trust and constant support at all stages of the project has made a huge difference for us.

Marcelo Madalena, Managing Director of Cristal Alimentos

Cristal purchased three modern C-Line pasta lines. The first two automated lines – to produce long and short pasta and with a capacity of 2,750 kilograms per hour (kg/h) and 2,000 kg/h, respectively – were bought in 2018. In the first year, Cristal reached 100 percent production capacity with around 5,000 kg/h. With such a promising debut, Marcelo Madalena and his team decided to invest more – the only way to cater to the growing demand. In 2020, the company acquired the third pasta line, a long-cut pasta solution, with a capacity of 5,000 kg/h. Today, with three lines, the installed capacity of Cristal is around 10 tonnes per hour, contributing to keeping Brazil among the top five leading countries in pasta production as of 2021, according to the International Pasta Organization. 

“We consider it one of the most modern and high-tech pasta lines in South America,” explains Fátima Morais, Sales Manager at Bühler. Bühler provided the complete solution for Cristal Alimentosʼ pasta lines, covering all stages of the production process. 

As an example, the mill and mixer with gravimetric dosers provide maximum precision in the dosing of ingredients, guaranteeing controlled conditions of the pasta, constant humidity, and consistent drying. The pressing system operates without granulometry limitation, offering perfect hydration and pasta development, with excellent access to components for maintenance and cleaning. And finally, the pasta dryer guarantees a high level of thermal insulation, free from deformation and problems with condensation, as well as energy efficiency.

 

With three pasta lines, the installed capacity of Cristal Alimentos is around 10 tonnes per hour. With three pasta lines, the installed capacity of Cristal Alimentos is around 10 tonnes per hour. With three pasta lines, the installed capacity of Cristal Alimentos is around 10 tonnes per hour.

A first in South America

In addition, Cristal opted for Bühler’s digital solution PastaSense. It is an integrated sensor system that monitors and ensures the quality of the pasta, allowing production to be regulated at any time for the necessary corrections in real time, while ensuring the maintenance of the desired quality parameters for the final product. By continuously monitoring the production, PastaSense also minimizes waste in the process. 

Such a strong combination takes quality, safety, and efficiency to the next level. In fact, Cristal 
Alimentos is the first company in South America to employ such technology. 

“We delegated to Bühler the planning of the entire implementation of our pasta factory from scratch, including the preparation of recipes for our market objectives. And today we couldn’t be happier to see where we have managed to get,” Marcelo Madalena explains. With a state-of-the-art pasta plant and a highly motivated team, Cristal has all the ingredients to keep shining on the plates of millions of Brazilians.

Watch the video about Cristal Alimentos to learn how they are leading the way in pasta production.

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