Brazilian orange juice is gaining its space at Arab tables. Direct exports from Brazil to the countries in the region added up to more than 1,000 tons during the first four months of the year, which yielded US$ 777,000 to the exporters.
In 2004, the volume traded was of 390 tons, according to information supplied by the Ministry of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade. The volume exported from Brazil during the first four months of the year is more than double what was sold during 2004.
“The increase is significant and shows the potential of the Arab market,” states Ademerval Garcia, president of the Brazilian Association of Orange Juice Exporters (Abecitrus).
The French group Louis Dreyfus, in Brazil since 1940 and one of the greatest world exporters of orange juice, is amongst the companies benefiting from the increase in exports to the Arab market.
The company sells to almost all Arab countries. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are the main buyers. The shipments are made through Rotterdam, in Holland.
Last year, the company sold about 12,000 tons of concentrated frozen juice to the nations of the Middle East.
Cláudio Barrozo, trade manager of the Louis Dreyfus group, states that the Arab market is “mature” and, therefore, the increase is consistent.
He credits the gradual increase in orange juice consumption to three factors: the climate in the region, which is very hot, the Islamic laws, that forbid alcoholic beverages and the educational policies in some cities, that motivate juice consumption.
“There are schools that don’t sell soft drinks. They only offer juice and milk to the children,” he says.
Another point mentioned by Barrozo is supply. The executive states that Brazil’s competitors in the juices segment, such as India and China, which produce mango and tomato drinks, are more susceptible to harvests highs and lows.
“There are periods in the year that these juices, also appreciated by the Arabs, disappear from the supermarkets. While orange juice is always there. Always available,” he affirms. Louis Dreyfus has served the Arab market for 15 years.
According to Barrozo, the group’s orange juice is exported in barrels of 270 kg. Each unit produces 1,600 litres of ready to drink juice. The whole packaging process is carried out in the Arab countries, by local companies.
“We sell directly to the bottler,” he explains.
To maintain the good relationship, Barrozo visits the clients once a year. Another important fact: “We don’t speculate with the Arabs. They pay the same price as the Europeans,” states the executive.
The Louis Dreyfus group hasÂ been in Brazil since 1940 and acts in the citric sector since 1988. The whole and concentrated juices produced by the company are distributed and sold in 65 countries.
The company also sells by-products from the squashing of the fruit, like aromas, pulp and citric pulp chaff for animal consumption.
Medium sized companies are also betting on the increase in juice sales to the Arabs. Poliana Guerra, exports advisor for Sucos Mais, in the southeastern state of Espírito Santo, says that two months ago the company made its first sale to Libya, in North Africa. Since then, six containers of ready to drink juices have been shipped to the country.
The Sucos Mais beverages are distributed to wholesalers in Libya. “We are also negotiating with the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon and Syria. We have already presented the prices and sent samples, now we are waiting for their contact,” states Poliana.
According to her, negotiations with the Arabs are slow, “they don’t happen from one day to the next”.
Conversations for the sales to the Libyans, for example, started in October last year, in a trade fair in Paris, France, and were only concluded in April this year.
The company is adapting the packagings to the Arab market. Nutritional information and other data, demanded by local organisations, will be translated into Arabic and labelled on the packagings.
Another strategy to increase sales in the region is the participation in international fairs. This year, events in Angola, Portugal and Japan are in the company’s agenda.
Sucos Mais employs about 400 workers and generates 4,000 indirect jobs in the state of Espírito Santo. Last year, the company produced 90,000 litres of juice.
The figures this year, however, will be much greater. “We are in a production expansion project,” states Poliana. The company exports, mainly, to Angola, Cape Verde and United States.
In Brazil there are 650,000 hectares of orange plantations. They add up to more than 200 million trees, according to information from Abecitrus. The production is centralised in the interior of São Paulo.
There are 322 cities in the southeastern state that live off oranges. Last year, the country exported 1.3 million tons – 80% of the entire world trade. The revenue with foreign sales was of US$ 1.3 billion.
ANBA – Brazil-Arab News Agency – www.anba.com.br