Organic food is becoming a food trend in Brazil as more consumers are searching for healthier products and the production of organic food has been growing over the last few years. In this article we will take a look at the organic food market in Brazil.
The organic food market in Brazil experienced a period of remarkable growth between 2007 and 2013. During this five year period, the revenue of these products in Brazil went from BRL 118 million to BRL 700 million, representing over 0,5% of the total revenue of the Brazilian food industry - including food exports.
Thanks to the growth of Brazil’s GDP in the 2000s, the Brazilian middle class has grown in size which boosts the consumption of more expensive items due to the benefits such as organic food. Along with this, major concerns regarding health and wanting healthier food free from pesticides are becoming a trend.
Although there are no official studies available, the director of the Ministry of Agricultural Developmentestimates that the organic food market in Brazil grows an average of 20% a year, fostered by the sales in organic farmers’ markets, where family farmers can sell their products directly to customers that are looking for higher quality food.
As of 2013, Brazil is ranked as one of the biggest producers of organic food in the world, according to a survey by the Research Institute of Organic Culture and the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements. According to the last Brazilian Agricultural Census conducted in 2006 by IBGE, Brazil has almost 5 million hectares of land destined for growing organic products - making Brazil the tenth country where the majority of land is used for organic agriculture - with over 90.000 farmers. Despite this, when compared to the total amount of agricultural land in Brazil, the numbers are less optimistic, as they represent only 0,27%. Over 85% of all organic producers are family farms.
The number of organic producers is rising in Brazil. In 2012, there were circa 5.500 organic producers in Brazil that were duly registered and compliant to the requirements set. In 2013, that number grew to 7.959 organic producers and 10.064 organic production units in Brazil. The Northeastern region of Brazil has the most organic producers, with 2.769 being registered. Despite this, most organic producers in the Northeastern region are family farmers and account for only a small part of the total production of organic food in Brazil. From 2007 to 2012, the production of organic food went from 40.000 tons to 300.000 tons.
The following states concentrate more than 70% of the Brazilian production of organic food:
- São Paulo
- Rio Grande do Sul
- Minas Gerais
- Espírito Santo
Registry at MAPA
Since 2011, all organic food producers need to be registered so they can be duly certified as producers of organic food. The registry is called Cadastro Nacional de Produtores Orgânicos, which is Portuguese for National Register of Organic Producers, and is managed by MAPA, the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply. Certified producers are granted the SisOrg seal, which testifies the regularity of the products. Registration with MAPA can be made via three different methods:
- Certification by audit - the granting of the SisOrg seal is done by a public or private certifying company accredited by MAPA. The conformity assessment body complies with international standards and specific Brazilian technical requirements
- Participating guarantee system - the producer joins a certified group of producers which will counsel them in obtaining the SisOrg seal
- Social control in sales directly to the consumer - whenever an organic producer sells their products directly to the consumer, without the intermediary action of a company, they do not need to have their products certified as organic. But it is still required for them to accredit themselves as a certified group of producers
As of 2014, the “Social control in direct sales to the consumer” method is the most commonly used by organic producers to certify their products, as it does not have any costs involved, since it does not need any kind of certification.
Incentives for the production of organic food
To encourage the production of organic food, the Ministry of Agricultural Development has issued a National Plan of Agroecology and Organic Production. This Plan will give incentives - mostly to family farmers, and will grant credit lines in a less strict way and will therefore make it easier for the organic producers to certify their products. One of the main reasons why family farmers opt for the “Social control in direct sales to the consumer” method is because the other two methods, especially the “certification by audit” are too expensive.
Special export program
Apex-Brasil, the Brazilian Trade and Investment Promotion Agency, is a government agency responsible for promoting Brazilian products and services abroad and attracting foreign investment to strategic sectors of the Brazilian economy. Since 2005, Apex-Brasil maintains a special export program to foster Brazilian exports of organic products. As of 2014, Organics Brasil has gathered more than 70 Brazilian companies and more than 1.000 different products. The program has conducted promotional activities throughout the world, generating business worth an estimated USD 130 million in 2013.