Smithfield Foods is continuing its quest to become a larger player in European markets.

The giant U.S. pork integrator plans to invest around $800 million in Romania over the next five years to secure a strategic position in that country.

“Our purpose is to create the most powerful pork meat producer in Romania and to turn it into a major player on the European market in 2007, when Romania joins the European Union,” says Michael Cole, Smithfield’s vice president in charge of acquisitions.

Smithfield began investing in the Romanian market in 2004 after buying certain assets belonging to the former pig breeding complex Comtim Timisoara. So far, Smithfield has invested $80 million in upgrading the assets of Comtim and in acquiring 50% shares in related distribution and refrigeration companies.

Smithfield plans to build an integrated portfolio in the Romanian market by further expanding its purchases of pork processing companies, says Cole.