Building on the strong trade in staples including chicken, beef and sugar, Apex-Brasil wants to help its food producers crack the Middle East market across a wide range of product categories. At the show, Brazilian exhibitors are showing off a range of ingredients and finished food products, including fruit, bakery and dairy items.
“Brazil is already an important supplier of meat, of sugar, but we have many other products, industrialised products, we would like to introduce to this market. Brazilian companies are really prepared to export to this market, with sophisticated products, and in condition to compete,” said Ely Michel Dauly, chief operating officer for Apex-Brasil MENA.
“There are many products we’re focusing on: chocolates, biscuits, dairy products, eggs, orange juice – Brazil is the number-one exporter of orange juice in the world, and we want to increase our share in this market,” he added.
Milking dairy exports
One sector particularly looking to expand its business is Brazil’s nascent dairy export sector, which leapt from US$74m in global exports in 2012, to US$314m in 2014. Saudi Arabia is the largest regional importer of Brazilian dairy products, buying US$12m-worth last year, 10 times the value from three years earlier.
The country’s dairy producers will be focusing on products such as powdered milk and requeijão, a creamy cheese-based product which is often used as a spread. While powdered milk is currently the main dairy product imported by regional buyers, requeijão is something most Middle East consumers are unfamiliar with – but that Brazilian exporters believe has potential in the region.
Aim to beat $650m
Dauly emphasised the importance of building long-term relationships with regional businesses, and educating regional buyers on what Brazil’s suppliers can offer. But Apex-Brasil expects to see its exhibiting companies generate a substantial amount of firm business as well.
“We want to increase our awareness about the potential that exists for business with Brazil, and at the same time we do sign contracts – last year we signed business contracts worth US$650m, and this year we expect to have more deals,” said Dauly.
“But still, it’s a long process – we’re not looking for short-term results. It’s very important for us to consolidate our position in the market. This is our challenge – we are working on the lack of information. We’re trying to improve awareness of what Brazil can offer businesses,” he added.
One key challenge is providing information and reassurance to regional buyers that Brazil’s food exports meet regional requirements. Dauly said one of Apex-Brasil’s key functions in the region is staying on top of specific regulations, and relaying this information to Brazilian producers.
“So when we’re talking about food, about meat, it’s very important to assure them that the food is Halal. But it depends on every case – we’re here in the market, we meet with the authorities here very often, so we can check what the requirements are, and how we can adapt our products to what’s needed here,” he explained.