Despite being a great fruit producer, Brazil does not export as much as it could. Problems in logistics infrastructure, structure of the international area of companies and lack of knowledge of quality norms in other countries result in Brazilian fresh fruit exports totaling just 0.5% of the country’s production.
However, research promoted by agronomist José Guilherme Ambrósio Nogueira, for his Post Graduate thesis on Administration of Organizations, for the University of São Paulo (USP) School of Economics, Business Administration and Accounting of Ribeirão Preto (FEA-RP), points towards routes and strategies for producers to be able to change this scenery.
“Brazilian fruit is extremely good quality. We have a great volume of exports of melon and grape but only occasionally, as we cannot standardize this quality,” explained Nogueira.
According to the engineer, the problems with export of fresh fruit start in transportation, which is often not adequate, and may result in problems from when the fruit is picked and put on trucks without adequate refrigeration and also reach the long period for arrival in the country of destination, when transport is by sea.
“Shipping by air has very high cost. It may increase the price of the cargo by 10% to 15%,” he said. Problems with pesticide control and with the stricter demands presented by some countries are also blocks that hinder the growth of foreign sales.
The research by Nogueira used figures disclosed by the (Ibraf), showing that the Brazilian fruit culture has annual turnover of around US$ 6 billion. Exports, however, represent just a small share of this volume. In 2010, Brazil sold the equivalent to US$ 700 million in fresh fruit.
If these problems were solved, what result could be reached? “At least double or triple the fruit exports,” said the engineer, who operates as a manager and agribusiness consultant of the Brazilian Micro and Small Business Support Service (Sebrae). Currently, the fruit most exported by Brazil are melon, banana, mangoes, apples and grapes.
Melon is the main fruit sold abroad, representing 24% of production volume and 22% of the financial volume in the Brazilian fresh fruit export basket.
Currently, the main destination for Brazilian fruit is the Netherlands. “The Netherlands is a distribution hub in Europe,” points out the researcher. The next main buyers are the United Kingdom, Spain and the United States.
In his research, Nogueira pointed out some strategies that aim at helping Brazilian companies increase their export potential. He researched 36 companies in the sector, throughout the country, in five export categories, starting with those that never sold abroad to those that are already present in the international market.
Among the solutions pointed out are promotion of training programs, participation in business roundtables, investment in marketing operations and participation in international fairs and prospecting missions.
This way, pointed out Nogueira, it is also possible to reach other markets with great potential for purchase of Brazilian fruit, like Germany, Russia, Canada, Portugal, Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates.
“The Emirates is among the target markets, and is much in focus,” he said. “South Africa is our main competitor in that market. The Emirates buy 22% of the fruit they consume from that nation, whereas purchases from Brazil represent just 0.75%.”
Apart from South Africa, the main Brazilian competitors in the international fruit market are Spain, Chile and the United States. According to Nogueira, one of the problems identified by businessmen regarding sales to the Emirates is the long grace period required by the buyers.
“They ask for a long grace period, of up to six months,” he said. However, it is also a market that presents many advantages with regard to the kind of product that may be sold. “In the Emirates, you may sell more expensive products, with greater added value,” he pointed out.
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