The Americas Food & Beverage Show, now in its 11th year, is the largest F&B trade event in the hemisphere. Founded and presented by the World Trade Center Miami to promote bilateral trade, each year the show brings thousands of buyers and thousands of new products to Miami, an important nexus for trade between the U.S., Latin America and Europe. Over the years, the Americas Food & Beverage Show has consistently introduced the newest products, most authentic new tastes and flavors, and freshest emerging trends to F&B buyers in the U.S., whether “chipotle”-inspired condiments, or exotic produce. In 2007, we helped introduce the exquisite taste experience of Peruvian cuisine, hosting the official launch of the first Peruvian cooking school in the U.S. at the show.
Since its opening in 2007, the show has generated $3.4 billion in revenue for attendees, with Latin America one of the top bilateral trade partners for the U.S. in food and beverage and across other categories.
For many countries in Latin America, 30-48 percent of the food and beverage products in their grocery stores are imports from the U.S. The average Latin American consumer is familiar with U.S. brands and believes that U.S. products are of superior quality. In the past, they have been willing to pay more for that quality. In some emerging economies, such as Guatemala, U.S. products are considered “safer” based on the stringent requirements of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration and other regulators.
Throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, more and more women are entering the work force, creating a demand for quality convenience foods. The positive image of U.S. brands as more high-quality, more varied and more reliable is an advantage, and loyalty to U.S. brands is expected to remain strong.
In countries like Argentina, where economic growth is driving higher purchasing power for consumers, retail chains are looking to carry more U.S. imports, especially high end and gourmet products. F&B imports are projected to reach $650 million in 2008.
For F&B buyers in the U.S., Latin America presents an exciting array of imports for the adventurous American palate. The growing U.S. Hispanic influence in the U.S., evidenced “coast to coast” has increased the demand for authentic Latin flavors, both in grocery items and on the restaurant menu. In tandem, Hispanics across America are interested in purchasing flavors from home; in having easy access to the native ingredients and traditional dishes of their countries of origin.
These factors are drivers for increased bi-lateral trade within the Americas – and business opportunity that can bring prosperity to all. Boosting bi-lateral trade opportunities are new trade agreements between the U.S. and Latin America, including CAFTA-DR, that favor trading with U.S. exporters and importers,.
The World Trade Center Miami, as presenters of the 11th Americas Food & Beverage Show, are excited at the prospects. And based on the array of new and new-to-export products from Latin America to be exhibited at the 2008 show, coupled with specific requests from buyers for these countries, the F&B trends we see for Latin America and the Caribbean include:
• Use of berries from the Amazon, including Acai;
• Healthier energy drinks, and fortified bottled water;
• More naturals and organics;
• More Peruvian cuisines and flavors;
• Growing demand for Kosher foods;
• Luxury foods for “indulgence”– especially confections;
• Convenience foods, but purer and free of chemicals;
• Demand for chewing gum (branded versions, from U.S.).
BERRIES, ENERGY DRINKS AND ORGANICS
Latin America represents a $570 billion food market. At the same time, more than half of all products manufactured by food companies in Latin America are exported to the U.S. and other markets around the globe. Food and Beverage Trade shows are an excellent venue for becoming acquainted with the diversity of products available for import from Latin America, and for meeting face-to-face with local providers and distributors.
Following are a few strong trends we see emerging from Latin America for this year’s show.
• Berries, especially Acai and Goji: As the focus on “food for well-being” gains momentum worldwide, berries and fruits with immune enhancing properties, or those perceived to deliver medicinal benefits, are escalating in demand. Look for more food and drink products with two berries indigenous to the Amazon region of South America: Acai and Gogi. We are seeing pure Acai and Gogi juices and products as well as juices, bottled waters and other beverages flavored with these berries. The dried berries are also consumed alone, or used as toppings for salads and other prepared dishes.
• Energy drinks and bottled water: Our Energy Drink Pavilion, introduced in 2007, is the fastest growing pavilion at the show. Buyers can expect to find an exceptional selection of energy drinks from Latin America. Indeed one of the biggest opportunities for two-way trade is within the energy drink niche. This continues to be a dynamic sector, with a proliferation of new brands within Latin America and, conversely, a demand within Latin America for branded products from the U.S. and other markets. Both U.S. and Latin American consumers are moving away from the caffeine and chemical infused drinks that were popular in the past in favor of healthier, more natural alternatives. This year’s exhibitors are presenting energy drinks enhanced with “good for you” vitamins and minerals. Following the trend for exotic, medicinal berries and fruits, this year’s energy drinks are fortified with antioxidant berries including two from the Amazon, Acai and Gogi.
Other new ingredients for energy drinks include green tea and Yerba Mate, a traditional herb drink popular in Argentina and introduced to the world by the Guarani Indians. Even though “good for you” packaged products are a relatively new concept within Latin America, consumers throughout the region are consistently making health-conscious choices, especially for energy drinks. More pure and natural flavors and additives, and fewer “chemical” infusions for energy drinks and waters are a definite trend.
• Naturals and Organics: Industry statistics pinpoint organic food as the fastest growing segment of food sales in North America, increasing 17 to 20 percent each year since 1997. Worldwide, statistics provided by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) show that the organic market totaled $40 billion in 2006 and is expected to reach $70 billion by 2012. This year’s exhibitors are confirming that explosive interest in all things natural and organic. As a region, Latin America is embracing the global shift towards more natural and organic foods. Argentina, in fact, is the world’s second largest producer of organic food, second only to Australia. Currently, Argentina has approximately 7.4 million acres in organic crops and natural grazing area for livestock production. Overall, Latin America has invested heavily in organics, dedicating approximately 14.3 million acres to organic for production. In contrast, organic farm land in the U.S. totals approximately 3.7 million acres. (source: Organic Trade Association).
Look for more Latin American produced grains, beverages and packaged goods with all natural labeling and organic certification.
GROWING DEMAND FOR KOSHER FOODS
Latin America is one of the highest consumer markets for Kosher foods in the world. Brazil, in fact, ranks as the world’s seventh largest Jewish community. Imports account for 90 percent of all Kosher food & beverage sales in Brazil, with the bulk of imports coming from the U.S., Israel and the European Union. Importantly for U.S. exporters, Brazil and most of Latin America accept the major U.S Kosher certifications.
Beyond the Jewish population in Brazil and other Latin American countries, Kosher foods are popular with myriad other ethnic and religious groups based on the perceived purity and safety of Kosher food preparation and packaging. In addition, Latin America is experiencing an increase in vegetarianism among its consumers. Vegetarians are attracted to Kosher dietary products, accounting for roughly 5 percent of total Kosher purchases in Latin America.
The Americas Food & Beverage Show is a proven way to keep up to date on developments in the industry and to transact business “on the spot.” Presented by the World Trade Center Miami each year since 1997, the Americas Food & Beverage show, slated for September, is a dynamic three-day international event presenting global F&B buyers access to new and new-to-export products from 56 countries. For 2008, 15 countries from Central and South America and the Caribbean will be exhibiting and sending buyers; these countries include Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru and the Caribbean island nations of the Dominican Republic and Trinidad & Tobago.
Jelena Meisel is director, 2008 Americas Food & Beverage Show. Dedicated to bi-lateral trade within the hemisphere and worldwide, the Americas Food & Beverage Show is supported by NASDA, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture and FAS, the Foreign Agricultural Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture as well as by agricultural departments throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.
For additional details on exhibits and seminars for the 11th Americas Food & Beverage Show, or to exhibit or register as an attendee, visit www.americasfoodandbeverageshow.com or contact Jelena Meisel, firstname.lastname@example.org; phone 305-871-7910.