By Bernie Pacyniak  

For those of you who follow the global political scene, you might be thinking that my headline refers to the latest presidential elections in Brazil, where former Marxist guerrilla Dilma Rousseff is in a runoff against her closest rival, Jose Serra, a former mayor of Sao Paulo and one of the county’s most experienced politicians. Poised to became its first female president, Rousseff, who’s the hand-picked successor of outgoing President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, just missed on garnering more than 50% of the vote to eliminate a runoff. The former Marxist guerilla turned economist became Lula’s chief of staff after a scandal prompted the need for a replacement. 

Although such a resume might concern Westerners about a revolutionary change in government, most Brazilians I talked to indicated that whoever wins the election won’t necessarily affect the economic good times in the country. Both candidates are promising to continue Lula’s legacy by pursuing a strong social program that’s integrated with equal doses of government investment in Brazil’s infrastructure. According to observers, each is determined to continue policies that fuel growth in Brazil, which bodes well for all industries, including confectionery. 

My most recent trip to Brazil, which was sponsored by the Brazilian Association of Cacao, Chocolates, Candies and  By-Products (ABICAB), provided me with an excellent snapshot of the dynamism that’s prevalent there. 

As cover stories in Candy Industry and Retail Confectioner reveal, manufacturers have transformed the vibrancy of the Brazilian culture into the sweets industry. And while there are a slew of statistics I can rattle off (you’ll find them in the intro page to the profiles on Garoto and Riclan), the one I’m pretty jacked about is the $350 million invested in modernizing and expanding production capabilities. 

With the world’s eighth largest economy and a population of nearly 191 million people, Brazil has the natural resources and consumer base to support a healthy confectionery marketplace. 

Thanks to a race-engine economy, that’s exactly what’s been happening. It’s also clear that Brazilian confectioners have recognized that supplying domestic demand provides an opportunity to improve product quality, modernize operational and processing segments, and introduce more sophisticated and innovative confections, simultaneously. 

That also opens doors to the export market, one that’s been dominated by China as of late. The ongoing sensitivities of retailers and consumers about the safety of Chinese food products enhance the opportunities for Brazil’s progressive confectionery manufacturers. 

Brazil has been known as the South American country with the greatest potential, which stems from its access to vast natural resources, its integration of various races and cultures, and a marked zest for life. But as Getulio Ursulino Netto, president of ABICAB, remarked in his opening presentation to journalists invited to visit Sweet Brazil, the country’s annual confectionery show, “Brazil’s potential is now.” 

I agree. No time like the present to secure the future.