Brazil eyes broader food exports to region

By Eliot Beer

- Last updated on GMT

Poultry and beef are the foundation of GCC retailers' strategy for Brazilian products
Poultry and beef are the foundation of GCC retailers' strategy for Brazilian products

Related tags: United arab emirates, International trade, Brazil

Brazilian food producers are working to increase their reach in the Middle East by growing the range of products exported to the region, beyond staples such as poultry and beef.

New trade visits to Egypt and the UAE, along with a trip by GCC supermarket buyers to Brazil, are all aimed at expanding Brazil’s already-sizeable trade with the region. Ivan Ramalho, executive secretary at Brazil’s Ministry of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade, told a business leaders’ lunch in Sao Paulo that one of the trade mission’s main goals is to “diversify exports​”.

Moving beyond meat

Currently Brazil’s main exports to the region are meat, particularly poultry and beef, along with coffee and sugar. The country’s trade associations are now pushing harder to expand categories such as snacks and sweets, along with eggs, honey and other ingredients, while simultaneously encouraging more of Brazil’s companies to export – according to Ramalho, only 20,000 companies out of a total of six million sell their goods or services abroad.

We will discuss the possibility of having a Brazilian Week in [GCC] supermarkets​,” said Rafael Solimeo, international business executive at the Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce, who will travel to Dubai this month. “We had one of these events at Kuwait’s Sultan Center and it worked out great. Besides, the event also fuels exports of Brazilian products​.”

Open to ideas

Some regional supermarket buyers to Brazil expressed interest in adding new product categories to their Brazilian imports. But staples such as poultry and beef remain the bedrock of GCC retailers’ strategy for Brazilian products for others.

We purchase Brazilian products from agents and distributors in our country, particularly poultry, but other types of groceries as well. We are here to see what other products we can add. We are interested in biscuits, jellies and honey. These are products I believe we can add​,” said Hassan Al Kaff, head of Merchandise-Market for Saudy Hypermarkets Company, the Saudi franchisee for France’s Carrefour.

Rakesh Jha, the general manager for Sales with Al Maya Distribution, said: “We are mostly interested in pastries, as well as beef, poultry and pork. I work in distribution, so I am looking for products to distribute not only in the UAE, but also in Oman, Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait. We are looking for products for those five countries,” he said. Muslims do not eat pork, but the product is on sale in some Gulf countries to cater to the expatriate population​.”

A major milestone for Brazilian food exports is expected in the coming weeks, as a formal visit from Saudi inspectors​ should allow the country to lift its ban on Brazilian beef imports. Saudi Arabia was formerly a major market for Brazilian beef, until fears of BSE prompted it to halt sales of the meat in 2012.

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