Brazil: Event brings new food importers to Brazil

By Area Santos

Matchmaking sessions opened this Tuesday in São Paulo with seven major companies from the Middle East and North Africa, four of which are in the country for the first time.

São Paulo – A matchmaking event for Brazilian exporters and Arab importers of foodstuffs began this Tuesday (1st) at the Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce, in São Paulo. The event is part of a Buyer Project organized by the Brazilian Export and Investment Promotion Agency (Apex-Brasil) in partnership with the Arab Chamber, which brought to Brazil seven companies from the Middle East and North Africa, four of which are taking part in their first event of this kind in the country.

Aurea Santos/ANBA

Elmahmal Group executives: interested in resuming imports from Brazil

“We are here in Brazil because we want to import products such as beef, poultry, oil, milk and biscuits,” said Mohamed Harb, the executive manager of Egypt’s Elmahmal Group. His group operates in various industries, such as retail and food imports/exports. According to the executive, the company purchased beef from Brazil once last year and wants to do business with local suppliers again. “We want to start working with Brazil again, but we want to do a stronger work this time around,” he said. According to Harb, the group’s intention is to import food from Brazil and distribute it in Middle East and North Africa countries.

The Moroccan distribution company Groupex said it imports Guaraná Antarctica from Brazil and is looking for new and potentially interesting products. “We are interested in other products. It’s great to have been invited. From what we could gather so far, there are some great products that could be interesting to us, such as cereals and creams,” Seddiq Elamri said. According to him, products reminiscent of Brazilian culture could also spark his group’s interest.

The Egypt-based AM Group is active in retail, food imports and exports. Its vice president, Ashraf Marzouk, said he imports large amounts of corned beef from Brazil, but is looking for different items to buy. “We import 50 containers’ worth [of corned beef] from Brazil each year. In this matchmaking event, we are focusing on frozen beef, poultry and coffee,” the executive said. The group currently owns three supermarkets in Egypt, and plans on building five new outlets.

The Union of Consumer Cooperative Societies represents 60 major Kuwaiti stores, most of which carry foodstuffs. “We are looking for poultry, beef, cheese, milk, cereals, coffee and sugar,” said vice president Saad Al-Shabo. According to him, the Union has imported from Brazil via its distributors in the past. “Now, we are buying directly from Brazil,” he said.

New markets

Dairy company Piracanjuba, from Brazil’s state of Goiás, has shipped product to Arab countries like Mauritania and Oman from 2006 to 2008. Now, it plans on resuming sales. “We are very interested in the market. I believe we will see good results. I spoke with three companies and it was quite interesting. The potential is there, and I believe the Arab market is very promising right now. They (the importers) are already requesting quotations, and that’s a good start,” said Foreign Trade coordinator Silvana Oliveira.

Currently, the company ships its products to countries like Chile, Paraguay, Angola and the United States. According to her, the product that sparked Arab buyers’ interest the most was powdered milk, followed by cheese, butter and condensed milk.

Marcio Bertin, the director of São Paulo-based company Daros BR, which owns the coffee brand Reduto do Café, says his product is only sold domestically at this time, but that he sees potential for it in countries like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Morocco and Algeria.

As of the interview, the executive had met only with the Kuwaiti importer, but was expecting good things to come of it. “I spoke with the Kuwaiti [importer] and we are very close to doing business. It was great,” he said.

GT Foods, a conglomerate based in the state of Paraná and comprising the poultry companies Canção, Bellaves and Mister Frango, was also at the event. The group’s trader Rafael Abdulmassih said the company ships product to over 70 countries.

“Within the Arab League, it exports to all of the Gulf countries. We have established a solid foothold in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain. Next year, we will open an office in Dubai to strengthen our relationship with our clients in the Gulf,” the executive revealed.

According to him, Saudi Arabia is the company’s second leading importer, trailing only Japan. GT Foods has a slaughtering capacity of 9 million birds per month.

“We are here to explore the North African market, to speak with people from Egypt, a country we don’t sell to currently,” he said. “Today, we produce whole chickens, which we could feasibly sell to Egypt,” Abdulmassih explained. GT Foods sells a small variety of chicken that is sold whole to the Arab countries.

The matchmaking continues this Wednesday (4th). Also participating in the event are the importers Atraco and Panda, from Saudi Arabia, and the Lulu Group, from the United Arab Emirates.