Natural Foods Merchandiser

Biofach América Latina showcases Brazil's organics

Though organic production is less than 1 percent of Brazil's enormous agricultural capacity, the country—and all of South America—is poised to become a major participant in international organic trade as it also develops its domestic organic market. At the third annual Biofach América Latina tradeshow, held in Rio de Janeiro in November, about 3,200 visitors (up from 1,842 in 2004) from 23 countries came to celebrate the growth of the organic sector.

U.S. companies were among the exhibitors and attendees at Biofach América Latina. "Biofach was a good tool to break into the Brazilian market, since it's a new place for us," said Ricardo M. Sardans of Pacific Organic Produce, an international organic produce distributor based in San Francisco. "We did some public relations, met growers and exporters, and let everyone know that we are the right partner when exporting organic produce to the United States." Sardans cited good prices and quality as the strengths of the Brazilian export and shipping segment, and "lack of infrastructure and barriers/regulations" as weaknesses.

Ciranda, an organic ingredients supplier based in Hudson, Wis., that has conducted business in Brazil since the company was founded in 1994, exhibited at Biofach América Latina. "We will return next year," said Prescott Bergh, director of sales and marketing. "For us, it's a combination of looking for suppliers and also finding distributors and customers for products we're likely to import to Brazil from other countries we do business in."

The trade show was coordinated by Nurnberg Global Fairs (producer of the annual Biofach show in Nuremberg, Germany, and co-producer of Organic Products Expo/Biofach America at Natural Products Expo East in Baltimore) in partnership with Planeta Org?nico, a central resource organization for organic production in Brazil. ExpoSustentat, with a focus on sustainable and fair-trade products, was held in concurrence with Biofach América Latina.

Brazil working on organic seal
In his keynote speech at Biofach América Latino, Brazilian Minister of Agriculture Roberto Rodrigues announced an initiative for a national organic seal to help create consistency among organic certification programs and to facilitate growth in the international market. Rodrigues predicted that organic production could comprise 20 percent of Brazilian agriculture in the next five to six years, stimulated by small farms. APEX, the Brazilian Export Promotion Agency, also supports organic farming with its Brazil Organics Project, which provides support for trade show participation and promotion of Brazilian products abroad.

According to The World of Organic Agriculture: Statistics and Emerging Trends 2004, (International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements, 2004), Brazil ranks fifth worldwide for organically farmed land area, with about 840,000 hectares cultivated by 19,000 producers in 2004 (in comparison, the United States had about 950,000 hectares farmed by about 7,000 producers). Many Brazilian organic farms are small and family-owned, creating a fragmented market. Farmers hope to capitalize on organics as an alternative to an industrial agricultural system.

The Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture estimates that the country's organic industry reached sales of $1 billion in 2003. But the market is mirroring and perhaps even exceeding the 20 percent annual growth of organics in the United States over the past decade. Primary organic commodities include soy, sugar, cocoa, coffee, cotton, nuts, livestock and tropical fruits such as bananas, mangoes and açai.

Biofach América Latina 2006 ( will be held in São Paulo, Brazil, at the Transamérica Expo Center, Oct. 25 to 27.

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXVII/number 3/p. 28

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