Brazil's leading rice producing state, Rio Grande do Sul, in the south of the country, with an output of 8 million tons per year, intends to set aside 10% of production for the foreign market. Negotiations started during an international business roundtable held during the International Rice Exhibition (Expoarroz 2009), which runs until Saturday, May 9, in the city of Pelotas.
The event brings together 37 selling companies from Brazil and 10 importing companies from several countries.
"The goal is to offer at least 200,000 tons of rice to traditional importing companies from South Africa, Argentina, Belgium, the United States, the United Kingdom and Switzerland, as well as Brazil," says the superintendent at the Continental Commodity Stock Exchange (BCM – "Bolsa Continental de Mercadorias"), Fernando Estima.
According to him, during the exhibition, approximately 190 meetings will take place, each one lasting 20 minutes.
"In this first edition of Expoarroz, we consider that our main goal, which is to bring buyers and sellers of processed rice closer together, has already been accomplished," he claims.
According to Estima, the next step will be to create exporter groups, increase dialogue between producers and buyers, and foster the rice certification process in Rio Grande do Sul. "This set of actions will surely boost sales of the grain across Brazil," believes the superintendent of the BCM.
The manager of the southern section of the Brazilian Micro and Small Business Support Service in the State of Rio Grande do Sul (Sebrae/RS), Rosani Boeira Ribeiro, explains that the current international economic conjecture is delicate and calls for more daring, assertive action.
"The business roundtables are one great bet of Sebrae/RS in that respect. In the case of the international initiative at Expoarroz, the aim is to increase the market share in foreign trade and raise the price paid to farmers per bag of rice," she says.
Celso Paulino Rigo, the president of Pirahy Alimentos, one of the 37 selling companies that will participate in the meeting, wants to export more of his flagship product: rice brand Prato Fino.
"We already sustain trade relations with the United States and Spain, but want to expand our portfolio of foreign customers," he declares. Pirahy Alimentos is based in the municipality of São Borja, near the western border of Rio Grande do Sul, which is the most important rice producing region in the country.
The Expoarroz 2009 international business roundtable is promoted by Sebrae Rio Grande do Sul, the Federation of Industries of the State of Rio Grande do Sul (Fiergs), The State Secretariat for Development and International Affairs (Sedai) and the Continental Commodity Stock Exchange.