Brazil Discovers Trade Fairs and Small Businesses Get a Boost

Brazil's Mechanical Fair in São Paulo Trade fairs in Brazil have been growing from year to year and are now among the most efficient and economic forms for micro and small businessmen to conquer their share of the market and expand businesses. According to figures supplied by the Brazilian Association of Trade Fair Organizers (Ubrafe), today, 30% of the 31,530 exhibitors present at fairs are micro and small companies.

“Trade fairs are the most diversified windows into the Brazilian productive sector. They are the best investment in media, in the cost-benefit point of view, that a small company can make,” says Armando Campos Mello, superintendent director at Ubrafe.

Every year, these windows grow and attract more eyes. In 15 years, Brazilian trade fairs have grown 300%. According to a study by the Ubrafe, in 1992 there were 38 fairs covering a total area of 500,000 square meters.

In 2007, there will be 125 exhibitions covering over two million square meters. The number of exhibitor companies leaped from 7,500 in 1992 to 31,500 companies in 2007. The number of visitors has also grown: from 500,000 in 1992 to 5 million in 2007.

“At trade fairs, companies can present their products and services to the market, solidify trade relations, prospect new clients and business, strengthen their brands, disclose new releases, verify market tendencies and the situation of the main players in the sector and also do great business,” points out Campos Mello.

Knowing this, there are few retailers, distributors and tradesmen who avoid visiting the main fairs in their sectors. “Staying out means missing a unique opportunity to learn about and buy an ample offer of solutions that the market offers over a period of a few days,” guarantees the Ubrafe manager.

Aware of all these advantages, companies do not measure efforts to mark their presence in the main fairs in their sector. This is the case with Maqplas, a maker of machinery for the flexible packaging industry, based in the interior of the state of São Paulo.

According to the commercial director at the company, Maristela Miranda, it is participation in fairs like the Brasilplast, which takes place in São Paulo, in the Brazilian Southeast, which guarantees the sale of a large share of the factory’s produce.

“Brasilplast is the most important trade fair for the sector in Brazil. Through it we sell not only to the domestic market but also to the foreign market,” she explains. “At this year’s edition of the fair, we sold over 20 machines and won new clients in Colombia and Venezuela,” she celebrates.

Currently, over 40% of Maqplas production goes to the foreign market. Among the main destinations are countries in Latin America, the United States, Europe and South Africa. The company has been on the market for 17 years, employs 55 people and produces around 10 machines a month.

The Brazilian Micro and Small Business Support Service (Sebrae) is one of the main partners of small companies in this task of winning new markets. The organization usually assembles collective stands at many national fairs throughout the year.

Companies normally count on 40% subsidies in the cost of stands, as well as using meeting rooms, telephone, fax, Internet access, technical support and receptionists. The package also includes the assembly, security, cleaning and electric energy.

One example is the International Fair of Packaging and Processes for the Food and Beverage Industries (Fispal Tecnologia 2007), which took place in June. Among the participants was Ecozon Plus – Industry and Trade, Import and Export and Equipment for Ozone Generation. The company owner, Anderson Gabriel Vaccari, explained that participation in the fair guaranteed a 30% expansion in company revenues.

“I sold three machines during the fair. I did great business,” said Vaccari, who stressed the importance of Sebrae-SP support to the company. “The Sebrae support was fundamental, as we are small and the cost of participating in fairs is very high.”

According to Aristóteles Abreu Filho, an analyst at the market access unit at the Sebrae, one of the best routes to supply is to seek class associations and participate in fairs in Brazil and abroad.

“Logistics costs may be administered by associations and consortiums, and they will drop, as there will be one payment shared among all the associates, and not each associate paying for his own freight. This significantly reduces the company cost and may make it competitive abroad,” stated the analyst.


In the case of business fairs abroad, the Brazilian Export and Investment Promotion Agency (Apex) also supports small companies. The Apex coordinates Brazilian participation aimed at serving foreign customers, promotes activities like sampling, exhibitions, product launching, press conferences, public relations programs and visual communications.

“Fairs are important for the consolidation of business for companies that already operate abroad and for business prospecting in the case of companies that are seeking new business on the foreign market. It is also a favorable environment to check how competitors are acting and to analyze market tendencies for the future,” said Juarez Leal, coordinator of the Foreign Event Unit at the Apex.

The Apex participates in 650 events each year through sector projects and also directly. Of these, around 500 are fairs. An example of a fair with great repercussion in 2007 was the International Trade Exhibition – Expocomer 2007, which took place between the 7th and 10th of March, in Panama. A total of 51 companies participated, and they made 692 contacts.

All this growth also benefits a chain that is involved in the organization of fairs. In the southeastern Brazilian state of São Paulo, which hosts 75% of the great business fairs in Brazil, the event market has a turnover of 2.4 billion Brazilian reais (US$ 1.3 billion) a year – being 700 million reais (US$ 391 million) for the renting of exhibition space another 700 million reais for the renting of equipment and services and 1 billion reais (US$ 558 million) in travel, housing and transportation of participants.

Apart from this, each year approximately 185,000 jobs are generated all around the country – 120,000 in the capital of the state of São Paulo alone, which offers 250,000 square meters of pavilions for fair organization.

Anba –



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