Northern Ireland’s biggest food company is, in fact, Brazilian. And since Latin meat processor Marfrig bought Moy Park in 2008, sales have soared 50% at the poultry giant.

But while smashing through the £1bn barrier - climbing 16.4% to hit £1.1bn in 2011 - profits fell back to earth with an almighty bump, plummeting 82.8% to £4.8m.

The challenges facing CEO Nigel Dunlop are common to many in the province: inflationary pressures are squeezing margins hard and retailers are fiercely fighting to dispel price increases competition with mainland rivals, such as 2 Sisters, is hotting up and inefficiencies in its European supply chain need addressing.

But Dunlop insists the nadir has been reached and the situation is being turned around at Moy Park.

“There are things we could have done to make the company more profitable in the short term, but this would not have been the right thing to do in terms of strengthening and developing the business,” he says.

“There comes a point when you can’t keep saying it’s all about the long term, of course, but I’m pleased that we look like finishing 2012 in better shape.”

Overcoming uncertainty among Moy Park staff around the change in ownership, Dunlop argues the move has actually strengthened the business, with Moy Park retaining plenty of autonomy and taking the lead in the global giant’s international poultry business.

Closer to home, Moy Park’s most notable coup of late was persuading celebrity chef Jamie Oliver to endorse a new range (p50). “We’ve worked very hard to meet the standards Jamie expects,” says Dunlop.

Moy Park is also set for more international recognition as Marfrig pushes ahead with its sponsorship of football’s FIFA World Cup.

The company enjoyed a taste of the limelight during the 2010 tournament in South Africa, when Moy Park was promoted on advertising hoardings at games featuring the top European sides.

When the World Cup arrives in Marfrig’s home nation in 2014, Moy Park can expect even greater exposure - potentially transforming a predominantly own-label poultry supplier into a modern, highly regarded branded food company.