More than 1,000 people attended Brazil's first convention for functional food manufacturers held June 15 and 16 in Sao Paolo. Called the Health Ingredients South America Summit (or HiSA), it was organized by Netherlands-based UBM International Media (UBM). About 40 companies exhibited including Bio Sarae, Fortitech, Gelita and Naturex as well as a variety of multinational and South American-based firms.
It was the strength of the Brazilian market, and the growing opportunities there, that lured botanical extracts manufacturer Naturex to the show.
"Brazil is among Latin America's healthy ingredients hot spots," said Antoine Dauby, Naturex's group marketing manager. "The show was very good for us; we had traffic all day long and were delighted with the contacts we made.
"Attending the show confirmed to us the potential we have with the South American market: consumers with an increased knowledge, urbanization and local tradition of functional food. The fastest-growing categories include weight loss and sports nutrition. We will certainly participate in the next edition."
Shortly before the convention, Finland-based NutriTech released its analysis of the Brazilian food market. NutriTech is a joint research and food development programme of VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and the University of Kuopio.
"Brazil is already the sixth-largest market for functional foods, behind Japan, the US, China, the UK and Germany," NutriTech explained in its report.
According to Euromonitor, the Brazilian market is estimated to be worth $2.61 billion and growing at a clip of 13 per cent per year. Consumption of fruit and vegetable juice alone has doubled since 2001.
Several factors can be attributed to this growth including health-conscious young consumers; a growing middle class; increased life expectancy (about 70 years, up from 51 in 1950); and increasing urbanization (about 85 per cent of the population).
The country also has a significant wealthy population. "The 10 per cent of the population that one would classify as being traditionally wealthy represents 48 per cent of the nation's purchasing power," the report explained. "With a population of over 170 million, this group constitutes a market roughly the size of Denmark, Norway and Sweden taken together."
The country also has an indigenous tradition for health awareness. For example, there is a long-standing demand for 'garrafadas' — concoctions of natural leaves and stems that are believed to have health benefits.
"Brazil is the only country in Latin America to have well-defined regulation for functional and health claims for either nutrient or non-nutrient components, plus also for the demonstration of safety and efficacy. Brazilian legislation on functional claims is based on accepted international principles. The definition takes the form of a food and not a drug, that is part of a normal diet and that can produce benefits beyond basic nutrition. All of these products should be registered and approved by health authorities," the report says.
"Brazil is the heart of the Latin American food market — it is the only nation with a robust regulatory framework for making functional claims — so the event will return there in 2011," explains Vincent Brain, event manager of emerging markets for UBM.
While European presence was strong at HiSA, UBM hopes to attract more exhibitors and visitors from North America in the 2011 summit.
"UBM has a couple of offices in the United States, but we are traditionally stronger in Europe and have more solid relationships there with suppliers," Brain said. "US companies also show more willingness to be involved in USDA-endorsed shows. We launched too late to get the show endorsed for 2009. But we have strong ties to the USDA, so we hope that we can the next edition endorsed."
For a complete list of exhibitors, click here