Vonpar’s main business comes as distributor of Coca-Cola and Heineken in Southern Brazil.
But it also operates a food arm since acquiring sugar confectionery business Wallerius in 2009 and chocolate firm Neugebauer in 2010.
‘We want to focus on chocolate’
Bruno Folharini of Vonpar Alimentos’ export department told ConfectioneryNews at the ISM trade fair in Cologne, Germany, he has targeted raising Neugebauer’s exports from 6% to 10% of Vonpar’s chocolate sales by the end of 2016.
"We invested a lot of money to improve the quality of the product and to improve packaging,” he said.
“We want to focus on chocolate - it's a better product, it has a better presentation and we have better profits,” he continued.
Vonpar’s chocolate business is larger than its sugar confectionery business in value, but not volume.
"At the beginning, we just bought the brands but the operations weren’t very profitable. We were not making too much money. But since we have invested in innovations like products and packaging, the incomes are getting better and the profits are starting to be there,” said Folharini.
Trinidad & Tobago and the US
Brazil's neighbor Uruguay is currently Vonpar's main export market for Neugebauer chocolate.
Vonpar’s export manager pinpointed the Caribbean as a target for the chocolate business as he said there are few domestic chocolate brands produced in the region.
“Trinidad & Tobago is one of the biggest countries and the third richest country in the Americas, just losing to the US and Canada,” he said.
"Since it's hot - over 30° everyday - they don’t consume too much [chocolate], but it's like Brazil. In Brazil the average consumption is about 2.5 kg per person per year."
He said Neugebauer would be positioned as slightly cheaper than Cadbury, which has a strong position in the region.
Vonpar also hopes to grow Neugebauer in the US, where it has only limited distribution.
It plans to take a regional approach with targeted strategies for the North, South, East and West.
Vonpar produces chocolate and sugar confectionery from a single site in Southern Brazil.
"At the moment our production capacity is just 40% used,” said Folharini, leaving significant capacity for growth.