More than 33,000 visitors experience the rush of Brazil’s dynamic confectionery industry at this annual fair.

It’s known for its cleanliness, good urban design and streamlined public transportation. Influenced by a wave of European immigration in the mid-19th century, Curitiba has a diverse population base, including German, Italians, Poles and Ukrainians, and is recognized as one of Brazil’s most livable cities. Even the late Pope John Paul II visited Curitiba when he toured the country. 

The thriving midsized capital city of Parana-it houses nearly two million habitants-opened its doors of hospitality to the nation’s largest confectionery show, Sweet Brazil, Aug. 16-19. More than 33,000 visitors roamed 33 booths at the fair’s 13th edition, which was organized by ABICAB (the Brazilian Association of Cacao, Chocolates, Candies and By-Products Industry) and ABAD (the Brazilian Association of Wholesalers and Distributors).

Like many of the booths at the show. Florestal provided visitors with plenty of visual stimuli, reflecting the upbeat mood of confectionery companies in Brazil.

Among the international visitors from 50 countries was an 18-strong group of buyers from the United States and Argentina who visited the country at the invitation of ABICAB, in partnership with Apex-Brasil (the Brazilian Trade and Investment Promotion Agency). The group, which was supplemented by several confectionery journalists, also sponsored by ABICAB and Apex-Brasil, quickly discovered the dynamic nature of the Brazilian confectionery and chocolate industry and its ability to innovate, with 150 new products launched at the fair this year.Garoto,Riclan, Docile Fini, Sukest, Peccin, Kraft Foods, Florestal and Docile were just a few of the companies that presented new products at this year’s exhibition.

Docile, which specializes in chewy gummies, jellies and sweets, exports to 40 countries and presented new flavors, shapes and packaging at the show. There, theDocigoma Ursinhos Azedinhos line of super-sour gummi bears was launched, while theMinigomas Refrescantesline saw cherry and extra-strong eucalyptus added to its range of flavors. This year, Docile also repositioned and expanded its line of mini-pastilles asMini Minty. 

“We want to meet the most diverse consumer profiles with our jellies line,” says Ricardo Heineck, Docile’s purchasing and marketing director. “Therefore, the R&D team has spent the last 12 months researching and developing formats, textures, flavors and colors to offer products that could be perceived as truly innovative. Heineck points out that Docile was the first company in Brazil to launch yogurt candies in Brazil. Moreover, it recently invested $2.5 million in a new starch moulding line for gelatine-based products. 

Fini, a company whose origins lie in Spain, now is producing its well-known tubes in Brazil. The company also launched Princesses with Toys, Strawberry Marshmallow, Gogo’s Dentures and a Citrus version of Mickey and its Sleeve Pots. In addition, Joao Paulo Chaccur, Fini’s managing director in Brazil, reveals that the parent company plans to build a new plant in the United States in New Jersey.

Florestal, which grew 11% in 2009, is the market leader in the flat lollipop segment. At the fair, the company introduced new varieties of its Xaveco and Pit Pet ball lollipops line. The Xaveco lollipop ball comes in a red strawberry variety with a mint-flavored gum filling. WithPit Pet lollipops, children can choose from a broad range of flavors with tutti-frutti gum fillings. The pops carry stickers of animals in cute and funny positions. In addition, the company continues to promote itsMilkinoLollipop, which is essentially “caramel on the stick.” 

Peccin, one of the biggest brands in Brazil’s sweet market, exports to more than 70 countries. Focusing on products that stand out from the crowd, the company launched TriBala, which uses Italian technology to allow the chewy sweet to offer two separate flavors. The company also presented Guest, a mini sweet. Peccin produces 3,000 tons/month and exports between 25% and 30% of that volume. 

Krafts Foods Brasil, owner of longstanding Brazilian brand BIS, launched a new lime flavor in this famous product line. The company also repositioned its Trident line, revamping the “formulation, packaging and positioning,” adds Oswaldo Nardinelli Filho, the company’s sales director. 

Sukest launched its FunClub Shrek line featuring a cream-filled marshmallow as well as strawberry, lime and banana twist jelly strips. The company remains on the cutting edge of marshmallow innovations with its Mont Mallow line of filled marshmallows, which features chocolate, strawberry, mango and lemon flavors. Its Fest ball product, a gumball coated with nonpareil candies and filled with strawberry, “brigadeiro” or chocolate, tutti-frutti and menthol flavors, continues to gain popularity. The company also debuted Spin chewing gum, which contains tattoos with African themes. In all, it produces about 130 products and exports 10% of its chewing gum production. Last year, it added two new production lines to enable the launch of new innovative marshmallow and jelly products.

More than 33,000 attendees roamed the show, which embodied the dynamism of Brazil's confectionery industry.

Once again showing innovation and betting on the chocolate industry’s growth,Haraldlaunched theMelken Uniqueline, becoming the first Brazilian company to produce gourmet chocolate made with cocoa beans sourced from Bahia, Amazon, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Ghana, Madagascar and Venezuela. 

Having worked in the dairy products market for the last 75 years, Embaré remains one of the largest companies in Brazil and is a leader in the caramel industry. The company posted sales of $320 million in 2009; exports account for more than 50% of that. Projected growth has set plans in motion for a new confectionery plant to be built within two years, says Solange Isidoro, Embare’s export manager. 

In a research study conducted by ABICAB with foreign buyers at the fair, the association discovered that buyers, particularly Americans, are avoiding Chinese confectionery and looking for alternatives. 

Exposure to the Brazilian confectionery segment suggests that many of the companies exhibiting at the show have the potential to step in as major exporters. Another discovery that arose in the study was the surprise expressed by first-time visitors to the fair over the diversity of products, packaging, flavors and formats available in Brazil, with the majority also stating that they found the pricing in line with the quality.

Rafael do Prado Ribeiro, ABICAB’s exports manager, says “Importers from the U.S. who came to Sweet Brazil said that food products coming from China are being rejected and that this should translate into an increase in the U.S. market’s demand for Brazil’s confectionery products.” 

If so, count on more foreign buyers getting a taste of Sweet Brazil in 2011.