Brazil Canada

Brazil’s growing market for Canadian gourmet products

By Brigitte Foisy

With nearly 215 million people, Brazil was the world’s sixth most populated country in 2020. It is Latin America’s largest economy; a developing, diversified economy that was the ninth largest in the world by GDP in 2019 according to the World Bank and United Nations.

Given its status among the top 30 global importers, Brazil’s importance as a market for Canadian goods continues to grow. Notably, its trade relations with Canada have remained stable throughout the pandemic, with growth in some segments even during a global crisis.

Brazilian imports from Canada of edible vegetables and certain roots and tubers actually increased by 50 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. The fiscal total of those imports reached over USD$18.6 million, according to the Chamber of Commerce Brazil-Canada (CCBC), an organization that facilitates and promotes matchmaking and trade between Canadian and Brazilian companies.

This favourable economic and trade data indicate the wealth of opportunities for local businesses that Brazil offers. This is due in no small part to its large affluent consumer segment, which represents 10 per cent of the population at over 20 million people — over half of Canada’s population.

This wide and varied group of financially resilient consumers maintains consistent demand for premium products, which differentiates them from other demographics. They seek out innovative flavours and single-origin or imported items, as well as products that provide unique experiences. These wealthy consumers have specific purchasing characteristics and will pay more for high-end goods.

As such, upmarket Canadian food and beverage products have a significant opportunity with this increasingly sophisticated consumer culture. Along with the growth of a young, aspirational upper middle-class, Brazil is destined to be a key growth prospect for gourmet food and beverage producers.

Products that show potential in appealing to an appetite for elaborate culinary styles, known as the “high gastronomy” market in Brazil, are cheeses from boutique dairies and Canadian wines.

Brazil’s cheese market represented US$5.2 billion in retail value in 2020 and is expected to grow by US$7.4 billion in 2025 according to Euromonitor International. This includes a growing demand among upscale consumers for imported, small-quantity, high-value cheeses such as those produced in Quebec.

Meanwhile, the market size for wines in 2020 had a volume of 289.8 million litres in Brazil and should reach 390.8 million litres in 2024.

With the rapid growth in the popularity of Japanese and other Asian cuisines, especially in São Paolo where over 3,000 restaurants exist in this category, Brazil has seen a sharp increase in demand for imported Canadian seafood such as saltwater fish, snow crabs, and lobster. Canadian scallops have also become a common feature on the menus of Brazil’s five-star restaurants and in recipes targeted at upmarket home chefs. Considered a delicacy, they are larger than the South American offerings (up to 5 cm in diameter).

Clearwater Seafoods is an example of a Canadian company taking advantage of the Brazilian market as a destination for its high-end products. They have recently made Canadian live hard-shell lobsters available to Brazilian foodservice operators daily, and engage in interactive and informative conversations about Canadian scallops with some of Brazil’s top chefs, showcasing techniques and how to incorporate the ingredient in restaurant menus.

Other Canadian specialty items that have a stake in the emerging Brazilian market for new food and beverage flavours include blueberry and cranberry jams, maple syrup, duck meat, and foie gras. Evidence of the opportunity for Canadian food and beverage producers is found at trendy São Paolo grocery store Casa Santa Luzia, where a 250 ml bottle of Canadian maple syrup retails for CDN $18 and a 750 ml bottle of Buchanan whiskey for CDN $135.

The popularity of quintessentially Canadian specialty food in Brazil is clear when a reality chef competition program called Mestre do Sabor (Flavour Master) featured a bold dessert prepared using chicken liver, chocolate, figs, and maple syrup!

As Brazil’s economy expands and its top-tier consumer segment grows, the desire for varied and exclusive food and beverage options from around the world provides an opportunity for Canadian producers in this category to tap into a market that promises to deliver unprecedented demand for gourmet items.

To start exploring the possibilities, Canadian companies can easily gain access to market trends and be connected to trade and logistics experts through the CCBC, a non-profit organization that has been helping connect Canadian producers with Brazilian importers for nearly 50 years. To promote and expand trade relations, the Chamber also offers events year-round, such as the upcoming Food & Beverage Virtual Business Round in partnership with the Brazilian Food and Beverage Association, which has over 130 importers of the segment, on June 14-15. This event will feature one-on-one meetings tailored to each attendee’s industry segment. Registration closes on May 21.

Brigitte Foisy is the Vice-President of Chefs Canada, an organization that works to shine the spotlight on Canadian cuisine and chefs at home and abroad, and has also been working with some of the world’s biggest food & beverage brands for over 25 years.