Ana Asti, the Fair Trade's consultant at non-government organization "Onda Solidária" (Wave of Solidarity), visited several handicraft production hubs in the city of Cuiabá, capital of the state of Mato Grosso, Brazil, in order to get to know new items and disclose information about the contacts it has established with fair trade networks in Europe and the United States, in its quest for new markets.
According to her, who was hired by the Brazilian Micro and Small Business Support Service in the State of Mato Grosso (Sebrae/MT) to do the work, contact has already been made with some importers.
"We are negotiating with Servv, an United States-based importer company that has existed since the 1940s and has more than 300 stores. They also make catalog sales and distribute over 1 million units a year," says Ana, who also stated that negotiating with this type of importer is always very difficult, because they operate with long-term contracts and evaluate production capacity and product delivery. "These are usually regular purchases that take place at least twice a year," she explains.
According to the consultant, representatives of Servv have received an export catalogue produced by the government of the State, by means of the Secretariat of Industry, Trade, Mines and Energy (Sicme) and the Sebrae/MT. Edited in four languages – Portuguese, English, Spanish and French – and two versions (digital and printed), the catalogue is a tool for promoting handicraft from the state of Mato Grosso in the international market. With products by 21 handicraft hubs, the catalogue has been sent to 41 fair-trade stores in Europe and the United States.
Besides the United States-based Servv, other importer companies, such as Altermundi, from France, and El Puente, from Germany, also showed interest in handicraft from Mato Grosso.
Negotiations with Dutch company Barbosa do Brasil are at a more advanced stage and, in October, Fabiana Dumont, business director at Bio Fair Trade, a company that bridges the gap between Brazilian handicraft groups and the importer company from Holland, visited some groups in Mato Grosso in order to select products.
Barbosa do Brasil is a fair-trade importer that has been purchasing handicraft from Brazil since 2002. It works with a network of 400 stores in Holland and is expanding into Germany and Belgium. It operates a showroom with 15 other importers from different countries and a distribution center for storeowners.
The company purchases products from 45 Brazilian handicraft groups in the states of Pernambuco, Alagoas, Minas Gerais and Bahia. Three containers are shipped each year with 75,000 to 80,000 items each, three times a year.
According to Ana Asti, one of the main issues when negotiating with importer companies is product pricing. "I am conducting a price survey," she explains.
"A product that is sold at Servv for US$ 23 would need to be sold for 11 reais (US$ 4.6), in order to make up for logistics costs." Asti calls attention to the fact that the appreciation of the dollar in recent months creates a better situation for Brazilian products in the foreign market.