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mar 07, 2018

Sales of traditional Brazilian foods growing in foreign markets

Once seen as a market driven by homesick Brazilian expats, exports of iconic Brazilian foods are now delighting the taste buds of locals in the U.S., Europe and the rest of Latin America, with sales going through the roof.

Exports of classic Brazilian items such as pão de queijo (cheese rolls traditionally from the south-east state of Minas Gerais), pamonha (a snack made from ground corn, similar to a tamale or humita) and coconut water have skyrocketed over the last few years, with the Brazilian Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (Apex-Brasil) recording an increase of 77% in 2016.

According to Apex-Brasil, the leading markets for these products are the United States and Canada, where the identity of Brazilian cuisine is becoming more and more popular. This is thanks in part to events such as Brazilian Day, held every year on Brazilian Independence Day (September 7), in various cities around the United States and the rest of the world. Besides giving locals a chance to try traditional Brazilian food, the festival also showcases the sounds and colors of Brazilian music and culture.

This growth in popularity has prompted the industry to be more ambitious, with companies such as Forno de Minas, one of the largest producers of pão de queijo in Brazil, investing significantly in exports and sending their products to more countries around the world in order to meet foreign demands.

The company already exports its pão de queijo to Canada, Portugal, the United Kingdom, Uruguay, Chile and, of course, the United States, where it has been selling its products for 12 years. With plans to continue this growth, Forno de Minas intends to expand into Latin America, exporting pão de queijo to Colombia, Argentina and Mexico.

Over the last decade, the goal of Brazilian companies exporting products abroad has been to overcome the so-called “homesickness market”, consisting of Brazilian expats wanting to buy familiar products overseas.

According to Igor Brandão, agribusiness manager at the Brazilian Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (Apex-Brasil), the industry has long since overcome this obstacle. “The products are highly valued, as is Brazilian cuisine and the way we use ingredients and recipes," Brandão told the Brazilian press at the end of last year.

"Companies use the homesickness market as a gateway, you can be sure that Brazilians living abroad are excellent advertisers for Brazilian products, when they use them in a recipe or at a party," said Brandão to O Globo.