Rebeca Duran

Rebeca Duran

Staff Writer
The Brazil Business


How to Import and Sell Food in Brazil

Rebeca Duran

Rebeca Duran

Staff Writer
The Brazil Business


Brazilian people seem to enjoy the consumption of imported food. Supermarkets have sectors only designated for it and a lot of stores are specialized on them. This sector of the country market has a potential growth. So how to bring imported food to the country?

The consumption of imported food has changed the Brazilian supermarkets. In two years the revenue from the sales of these products grew more than 40%. On the supermarket shelves there are more options of imported products for the consumer. Acquire imported items of food is the goal for the Brazilians consumers that are looking for high quality and attractive prices.

This Brazilian desire is a great opportunity to foreign food producers and companies that are interested in expanding their markets. Brazil is a good place to establish this expansion, but such as in other countries, a few procedures and following the legislation are necessary steps to import and sell food in the country.

Summarizing the Process of Importing Food

The import process in Brazil is designated to the SISCOMEX, also known as Sistema Integrado de Comércio Exterior, which is responsible for the taxation of the imported products and also responsible for the full control of the imports. Which means that even if some products require the Anvisa approval, the sanitary control organism actuation over imported products must occur inside the SISCOMEX.

The importer company must have the SISCOMEX license, a document that authorizes the commercialization of the foreign good in question, which contains information about the origin of the product. This license is necessary to permit the entrance of the imported goods in the country, and has to be obtained before the product is embarked abroad.

Since food is a product that requires health surveillance, it is not automatically licensed by SISCOMEX, being dependent on the granting of the import license by Anvisa.

The Anvisa Role in the Food Import Process

In food department, Anvisa is the health surveillance organism of the Ministry of Health. The MAPA (Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply), and all Brazilian states also works with Anvisa, integrating as well the National System of Health Surveillance. The organism is responsible for supervising of food, including beverages, bottled water, packaging, food additives, levels of organic pollutants, pesticide residues and veterinary drugs.

In order to provide the import authorization, firstly it is necessary have a food registration in the Ministry of Health regarding a food registration. The food products are divided into two groups by Anvisa: foods that needs a prior registration to be commercialized and food exempt from mandatory registration.

This registry is only necessary in some specific cases, such as: food for children, new types of food or new ingredients, and others that are listed in Anvisa's web page in the section Registro de Alimentos. These lists are available in Portuguese.

How to Get the Anvisa License to Import Food?

Needing the food registry or not, the company must present the following documentation to the sanitary inspection of food that will be held by Anvisa, before the customs clearance of the product:

  • Petition for Sanitary Inspection and Release of Imported Goods – Anvisa
  • Guia de Recolhimento, also known as Collection Form, from Anvisa / Health Ministry
  • Operating License (Permit) issued by the State, County or Federal District health authority
  • ANIMAT Certificate, also known as Administración Nacional de Medicamentos, Alimentos y Tecnología (only for products from Argentina)
  • Access authorization for physical inspection
  • Number of Import License or Simplified Import License
  • Waybill of cargo shipped
  • Commercial Invoice
  • Certificate of Quality Control
  • Term of Custody and Responsibility of the goods in external storage to the customs warehouse

After that, the Company must sent the request for authorization to SISCOMEX, which is responsible for the taxation of importing foreign products. This registry, prior approval by Anvisa and the tax payment, such as the Collection Form and other taxes charged over the import, declares that the company is authorized or not to engage in food importing activity. Then the company can finally import and sell their product.

Food Packaging: Regulated by Anvisa

Anvisa also regulates, controls and supervises the products and services that involve risk to public health, among them food packaging.

The regulations related to packaging include packaging materials that come into direct contact with food and are intended to contain them. The health legislation packaging is organized by type of material, if it is plastic, cellulose, metal, glass, textile and elastomeric. In addition, some standards establish general principles for materials in contact with food and specific requirements that apply to certain materials.

Manufacturers of packaging for direct contact with food must be properly licensed by the local national health surveillance department and should observe the compliance with local regulations.

The packages are generally exempted from registration in Anvisa, which do not take out the responsibility of meeting the requirements defined in the technical regulations in force. Packages obtained by new technologies, such as packaging made by recycled PET that gets into food contact, need a prior mandatory registration to be commercialized.

The regulations on packaging can be found online on the portal of Anvisa in the sector of Embalagens.