In a not so distant past, Brazil was a country known globally mostly for coffee and soccer — the two national treasures that continue to thrive. But in a country privileged by its biodiversity, with 6 different biomes—  the Amazon, Caatinga, Cerrado, Atlantic Rainforest, Pampa and Pantanal – there is always something new to discover, test and apply, especially in the way of ingredients and flavors.

What many people don’t know is that Brazil’s unique offering of exotic flavors, combined with its competitive position as one of the few countries self-sufficient in producing milk and sugarcane, has placed the country among the major global players in the confectionery industry.

For Brazilian candy companies, both emerging and established, it’s as if the possibilities are endless. These companies are expanding production frontiers to create chocolates and sweets that are enchanting palates around the world.

In fact, recent data from Euromonitor International shows that the Brazilian confectionery market currently ranks sixth in the world in terms of volume and eighth in value, with annual revenue of $6.75 billion in 2016. In the first half of 2017, the industry exported $143 million in products, equivalent to approximately 62,000 tons of confections. Compared with the same period of the previous year (2016), the results represented a 9.4 percent increase in value and 4.5 percent increase in volume. 

Here is a look at just a few of the Brazilian candy companies that are winning over the taste buds of U.S. consumers. 

Nugali Chocolates – Pomerode, Santa Catarina (southern Brazil)

This bean-to-bar company exports a complete line of gourmet chocolates to the United States. These unique chocolates are made from cocoa from the south of Bahia that is grown in the shade of native trees in harmony with the local ecosystem. The taste, which rivals chocolates made by traditional Belgian and Swiss chocolatiers, has earned the company international recognition. Just this June, Nugali participated as a finalist at the 2017 American International Chocolate Awards, the world’s leading competition of high quality chocolates in the category of pure chocolates. Nugali competed against 600 manufacturers from around the world and was granted a silver medal for the second year in a row. The company will move forward to compete in the International Chocolate Awards’ 2017 World Final, which will take place in October. 

Embaré – Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais (southeastern Brazil)

This company, known for its dairy products and caramel candies, has been exporting its milk caramels to the United States for more than 40 years. The latest product line, called Brazilian Delights, includes six flavors native to Brazil that aim to sharpen the senses: açaí berry, cupuacu, graviola, mango, papaya, and Brazilian cherry. One distinction that consumers love most about this product line is its eye-catching, colorful packaging. On the back of each package is an illustration of an indigenous legend associated with each of the chosen fruits. In 2016, Embaré received the American Package Design Award 2016, through Graphic Design USA. The prize was received for three products: traditional caramel, milk and chocolate caramel and coconut caramel.

Riclan – São Paulo (southeastern Brazil)

This is a candy company rich with history. Riclan is a veteran in exporting to the United States, but its story began in the 1940s, in the city of Rio Claro, with the artisanal production of candy that was sold at the train station to passengers taking the São Paulo state railroad. The company went into lollipop production in 1963 and news of the products flavor spread throughout Brazil in the years that followed. Today, the whole world has come to know the delicious taste of Riclan’s products. Their specialties include hard and chewy candies, lollipops, and a differentiated line of candy drops, with natural flavors and dyes made from propolis and vitamin C. 

The global market is increasingly recognizing the determination and creativity of Brazil’s entrepreneurs and the quality and innovation of their candy products. Today, candies are the most demanded Brazilian confectionery product in foreign markets, with a total volume of 63 perent between January and June of 2017. 

As these Brazilian candy companies and others continue to gain relevance on the international stage, they have the Brazilian Chocolate, Cocoa, Peanuts, Candies and Byproducts Industry Association (ABICAB) and the Brazilian Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (Apex-Brasil) supporting them along the way. These two organizations maintain a robust export development program called “Brasil Sweets and Snacks.” Launched in 1998, this joint project provides all the necessary support for associated brands to develop business opportunities in other markets. 

In an industry that continues to see large demand for high-quality products, Brazilian sweets and snacks companies, with the guidance and support of organizations like ABICAB and Apex-Brasil, are well positioned to continue shining globally.