The biggest winner for Brazilian products was October’s Sweets & Snacks ME exhibition in Dubai, held alongside Gulfood Manufacturing, and the Speciality Food Festival. Brazilian firms at the show closed deals totalling around US$8.7m, more than three times the amount from last year’s show, according to Rodrigo Solano, export manager at the Brazilian Association of Cocoa, Chocolate, Peanut, Candies and Byproducts Industry (Abicab).
ME is high-priority region
Solano said Brazilian sweet producers have stepped up their game in recent years: “Now the companies are more competitive – we have new flavours being launched, we have different products and priorities. These days, the United States would be the first target – but the Middle East, no doubt, would be the second. And when it comes to interest among our members, the Middle East would be the first region among our members.”
He added there were a number of factors behind the close relationship between Brazil and the Middle East: “First there is a very interesting cultural similarity between Brazil and the Middle East. In Brazil you have about 12 million Arabs from the Middle East, the way Brazil and the Middle East do business is very similar. And Arabs are more receptive to Brazilian confectionery items – they’re very open to receiving new products from Brazil.”
Match-making sees results
Over in Brazil itself, recent meetings with Middle East importers has also generated a substantial amount of business for the country’s food producers. Organised by Apex Brazil, the Brazilian trade promotion body, the recent match-making event saw firms such as Lulu, Panda, Atraco, Elhahmal Group, and Kuwait’s Union of Consumer Cooperative Societies sit down with a range of vendors.
Breakfast cereal producer Alca Foods was hopeful it will sign deals with four buyers, to export 40 tonnes of cereal a month, worth around US$200,000, according to Roberval Martins, the firm’s commercial director.
He said the Apex-organised event had been very useful: “I think the matchmaking was great, and I really liked the buyers’ profiles. It was one of the best such events I ever attended, result-wise.”
Other successful firms included Irlofil, which hopes to sign deals worth US$70,000 with Lulu and Panda for coated and roasted peanuts, and Baggio Café, which is also aiming to close US$70,000-worth of business for gourmet coffee. Trading company Millen expects to see a US$40,000 deal for its Cory brand of wafers, biscuits and sweets.
Building on these recent successes, Apex plans to exhibit at a new food trade show in the Middle East in 2016, along with new shows in other sectors – although it has not yet disclosed which shows will be targeted. Earlier this year the trade body named Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE in its 32 top-priority international markets.