Brazilian food may be the next emerging ethnic trend, based on the country's well-developed brands that are recognized by people in Colombia and neighboring Latin American countries.
In the United States, native Brazilians are pleased to find grocery products familiar to them and that provide a taste of home, according to Werner Batista, president of International Specialty Imports, Deerfield Beach, Fla.
The company has grown increasingly busy implementing sections of imported Brazilian foods, ranging in size from four to 12 feet. Just recently, ISI created its largest section in a Shaw's supermarket in Boston that measures 21 feet total, he said. Of all the products, chocolate and other sweets are probably the biggest seller.
"Not only Brazilians, but all of South Americans love sweets, and juices like acerola [a berry from the Amazon, with a lot of vitamin C]," he said.
New items are doing well, said Batista, whose company imports and distributes Brazilian food brands, almost all nonperishable groceries. The more significant brands ISI imports exclusively include Chocolates Garoto, S.A., Yoki Alimentos, S.A., Piraque, DuCoCo, Sofruta and King of Palms.
He told SN that Brazilian sets have gone up in 10 Winn-Dixie stores in Miami, Pompano Beach, Deerfield Beach, Key Biscayne and Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Besides those, the goods are present in 20 Publix stores and in seven Sedano's, a South Florida chain that merchandises to Hispanics.
New England is proving to be a strong market, too, with sections in Demoulas Market Basket, Victory Super Markets, 10 Shaw's Supermarkets and 25 Stop & Shop units, he said. Alex Alves, ISI account manager, added the company has been authorized to take on shelves at 50 more stores in these chains.
Joanne Gage, spokeswoman for Jacksonville, Fla.-based Winn-Dixie, said the retailer works hard to merchandise a store appropriately for the neighborhoods in which they operate.
"If a store is surrounded by a specific ethnic group, it just makes good business sense to merchandise to that group," she said. "In this case, it's Brazilian. It could be Cuban, Asian, Italian, [or others]. That's our job."
Some of the brands and the products Winn-Dixie carries are: Yoki brand peanuts, corn flour, manioc flour, potato flour, cheese bread mix, dried beans and spices. Under the Piraque brand, there are cookies, cream crackers and salty snacks. Piraque blends natural ingredients and top technology to meet the tastes of its demanding consumers, Batista said.
DuCoCo is Brazil's coconut specialist, including coconut water "that we drink a lot of in Brazil, a natural isotonic that is very good for the digestive system," Batista said. Also, he said that company makes shredded coconut, coconut milk, gelatins, puddings, flans, powdered drinks and desserts. A fourth brand, Josapar, has rice and bean products in two major lines.
Tea is important, too. Leao is the brand in demand for the herbal and natural tea market, Batista said, including tea bags, bottled and tetra beverages and iced teas. Concentrated juices from natural fruits are made by a company called Maguary, Alves added.
Candida Borgia, with the Brazilian Consulate General in New York, told SN that in some supermarkets in the city, particularly in Trade Fair in Astoria and other parts of Queens, she has noticed products that she used to see only in Brazil. Chocolate, she said, is "more like a national brand for us."
In this country, she told SN the consulate estimates there are 300,000 Brazilians in the urban corridor connecting New York, New Jersey and Delaware.
Brazil is a power to be reckoned with in an economic sense: The country has a population of 174 million, and the strongest economy in South America, according to Batista. Brazilians who emigrate are more likely to have a profession and a higher buying power than the average Latin American, he said.
"We started to get into Publix and Market Basket [in New England] because our products are recognized all over South America. Brazil has been exporting goods to all those countries, like Colombia, Uruguay [and] Ecuador. What California is to America, Brazil is to Latin America," he said.
Being world champions in soccer doesn't hurt, either.
"It's easier to sell products because of the soccer. Even Cubans are receptive. Last year it was [Brazil's] fifth world title, and all of a sudden my sales just boomed," Batista said.