Currently the Middle East represents just over 3% of Brazilian confectionery exports, but potential far exceeds that, according to Brazil's industry trade association.
ABICAB, the Brazilian Cocoa and Confectionery Manufacturers Association, says the launch of an Arabic version of its website and translations on packaging as well as a boosted presence at Arabic industry events will be key in realizing this potential.
As part of a joint effort from the Arab-Brazilian Chamber of Commerce and ABICAB, 19 out of the 75 companies exhibiting at this week’s trade show Gulfood in Dubai are Brazilian - at least 50% more Brazilian players compared to last year.
Brazilian exports across markets were down by 3% in 2013, but ABICAB export manager, Rodrigo Solano, has said he is optimistic about future forecasts.
“Middle Eastern countries imported 4.4 thousand tons from Brazil in 2013, which represents a growth of 4.2% over the previous year. The region represents slightly more than 3% of Brazilian Exports, but potential is far beyond that,” Solano told ConfectioneryNews.
At the end of last year the association launched an Arabic version of its website, it said since then visitors from Arabic-speaking nations ranked relatively low individually but when combined fell just behind Germany, its top ranking country for visitors.
He said that within this broad market there were local tastes to consider. “The Arab world is vast with different types of consumers. In the Gulf regions, for instance, there is a preference for known brands and premium products while in some North African countries this reality would be different.”
Brazilian candy firm, Florestal Alimentos, began exporting to Arabic countries last year and is currently in the process of building on its presence there. It has sought halal certification and this week will also attend the trade event Gulfood for the first time. The company said it plans to increase its exports by 20% by 2014.
Cleber Joner Harth, a trader at the company, said: “The halal certificate brings greater reliability to our products. The religious aspect is very important in the Arab countries, and this way they’ll know the product was prepared for them, giving you an edge over competitors.”
He said African-Arabic countries currently present the greatest potential, pinpointing Algeria and Egypt in particular.
Part of ABICAB’s strategy for boosting exports to this area is to emphasize the sweetness of Brazilian cane sugar. “Brazilian sugar has unique properties. One of them is that cane sugar is sweeter than others,” ABICAB’s Solano said.
“When it comes to ‘better for you’ products, Brazil has around 300 unexplored fruits just like Açaí berry containing healthy properties. I would say that Brazil has what the world and the Arab market need,” he added.
However, a report released this week by research firm Datagro said unfavorable weather conditions would see the sugar cane crop from Brazil’s main growing regiondrop in 2014-15. Bloomberg reported that the area will process 580 million metric tons of cane and make 32.5 million tons of sugar this season, compared to 596 million tons and 34.3 million tons of sugar last season.
Solano said that this did not pose great cause for concern. “Commodities are always in their ups and downs. I don’t expect long term impacts in our industry."
World Cup spotlight
Arab-Brazilian Chamber of Commerce, Michel Alaby, told us that his organization had invited several Arabic confectionery companies to take part in business round tables during the Brazil’s Football World Cup, as part of a project with the Arabic arm of Apex – the Brazilian trade and investment promotion agency. He said they expect the move to bring in more than R$1.1bn ($469m) in new business after running a pilot last year during the FIFA Confederations Cup.
Talking at this week’s industry event Gulfood, Allan Wehbe, export manager for the Brazilian chocolate manufacturing company Peccin, said: “Brazil is in the media spotlight right now, it is hosting the World Cup, and people are interested.”