sábado, 5 de dezembro de 2009
By Marcelo Sicoli*
Over the past several months, observing some market research companies at work and some of them quite large, one immediately notices the banalization of market research in Brazil.
The need for cutting costs within the market research segment, has resulted from a desire to maintain profit margins, while maintain pricing structures at a level at which the contracting parties abroad were accustomed (willing) to pay at the time of a strong dollar. However, particularly in the well known area of cash incentives for research participation, I see the market working at unrealistic and less-than-professional levels.
Such an example is depicted by the studies requested by the pharmaceutical industry, well known to invest a sizeable portion of its revenues in market research and clinical trials. As the industry views the Brazilian market, the world’s eighth largest in pharmaceutical sales in 2008, it frequently wants to collect data about physicians, particularly in those specialties such as oncology, where drug therapies and treatments typically come at a high cost. Considering that these professionals (physicians) enjoy the highest average salaries within the Brazilian labor market -- "O Retorno da Educação no Mercado de Trabalho" - Fundação Getúlio Vargas, 2009 ["The Financial Return on Education in the Job Market" - Fundação Getúlio Vargas, 2009] – by charging anywhere from R$150 (US$88) to R$800 (US$470) per visit, each of which lasts about 20 minutes, it is an absurd to see interviewers offer those same professionals R$30 (US$18) - R$50 (US$29,5) for a 30-minute interview by phone, or an 1-hour in-depth personal interview. As one knows, this precious information will feed the development of new drugs by the labs that generate billions.
In developed countries, the manufacturer’s representative pays for a visit to show their products and does not do so aggressively between one visit and another, as is the case in Brazil. The honoraria paid by the drug companies to physicians, that are considerably lower than the market average for the same professional’s fee structure, coupled with an invariable sequence of boring questions, stand to create a very strong resistance of these professionals to participate in any type of research. It is akin to the antibiotic that gives rise to disease resistance, when used inappropriately.
One day a Mexican company called me at 2:30 a.m. on my cell phone. They was desperately seeking a partner in Brazil to take part in a research project it had been awarded, which it had quoted at unrealistically low levels. On the following day, I politely declined the invitation and ironically informed the colleague that the Brazilian time zone is near the Mexican one and not similar to those of the other partners of "BRIC", India and China, which are eight hours ahead.
By comparison, some professionals who charge about R$50 per visit include computer technicians, personal trainers, female escorts, tarot card readers, masseurs and hair stylists. Without taking into account their value, based on the complexity and responsibility of their work, the time of a professional who takes on average 10 years to reach the job market should be more highly valued.
To analyze the market, I registered with various market research companies some years ago to participate in projects. Recently, as a secret interviewer, I was requested to memorize a long script, take my car and go downtown (Brasilia) during business hours, question the employees of a tire store about dozens of items, evaluate several variables, fill in various forms, scan the invoices, all of which was conducted for the price of a free tire balancing (R$30). There is a lot of qualification involved in this activity. This is not an undertaking for every person. Then I thought: “Would I spend a whole afternoon to conducting a consult for a multinational company for about R$7,5 per hour?”. I really wouldn’t. I requested that I be removed from the list of participants.
Foreign clients typically request projects of significant depth and detail. With Brazilian Real strengthening against the U.S. Dollar, project prices have risen , compounded by high taxes, benefits and labor costs, which on average are 30% more expensive than those in Mexico, for example. Conducting research in Brazil will be always more expensive than in other Latin-American countries – this should be very clear. The exchange rate was US$1/R$2,35 in January 2009; in December, it was about US$1/R$1,70, a loss about 28%. The appreciation of the Brazilian currency has been a problem widely discussed in media, due to the difficulty faced by Brazilian exporters of a variety of products and services.
Within the medical area in particular, we take the risk that predatory pricing within the industry will lead to the extinction of research activity subsequent to a resolution by the CFM (Federal Medicine Council) or CRMs (Regional Medicine Councils) which imposes limits or even ethical prohibitions on market research activity. A case in point is the prohibition on the performance of telemarketing companies in the State of Sao Paulo. Brazilian – and foreign – companies and sector associations ABEP, ASBMP, ESOMAR etc. have to deeply and immediately reflect on the subject. The competition and insatiable search for efficiency gains are leading to the banalization of research activity and to the exploitation of some professional groups.
*International market professor and Executive-Manager of Enterbrazil Consultancy
For additional articles by the author go to: http://enterbrazilconsult.blogspot.com/
quarta-feira, 2 de dezembro de 2009
Nos últimos meses, vendo certas empresas de pesquisa de mercado trabalhar, algumas de grande porte ai incluídas, é imediato perceber a banalização da atividade no Brasil.
A necessidade de corte de custos, se fez presente no segmento, para manter os patamares que os contratantes no exterior estavam acostumados (dispostos) a pagar em tempos de dólar forte. Porém, especialmente no que toca aos famosos incentivos por participação, vejo que o mercado esta trabalhando em patamares desrespeitosos e irreais.
Tome por exemplo, os estudos encomendados pela Indústria Farmacêutica, famosa investidora de parte de seu faturamento em pesquisas clínicas e de mercado. De olho no mercado brasileiro, 8° maior do mundo em 2008, ela com freqüência deseja coletar informações junto a médicos ,especialmente nas especialidades onde existem medicamentos e tratamentos de alto custo como os oncologistas. Considerando que estes profissionais (médicos) gozam das maiores médias salariais do mercado de trabalho brasileiro -- “O Retorno da Educação no Mercado de Trabalho”-Fundação Getúlio Vargas,2009)-- cobrando entre R$150 a R$800 por uma consulta de em média 20 minutos, é absurdo ver entrevistadores oferecendo R$30-R$50 por 30 minutos de entrevista telefônica ou pessoal em profundidade de uma hora. Como sabido, estas preciosas informações irão alimentar o desenvolvimento de novos remédios pelos bilionários laboratórios.
Em países desenvolvidos, diga-se de passagem, o propagandista de laboratórios paga por uma consulta para mostrar seus produtos, não o faz de forma forçada entre uma consulta e outra como no Brasil. Valores muito abaixo do mercado, e a invariável seqüência de perguntas enfadonhas, irão criar uma resistência muito grande destes profissionais em participar de qualquer tipo de pesquisa. Será como o antibiótico que usado inadequadamente, torna a doença ainda mais forte.
Empresa mexicana dia desses me ligou às 2:30 da manha no celular, buscando desesperadamente um parceiro no Brasil para fazer parte de projeto ganho cotado em patamares irresponsáveis. No dia seguinte, recusei gentilmente o convite e informei ironicamente ao colega, que o fuso horário brasileiro é próximo ao Mexicano, e não similar aos dos outros parceiros do “BRIC”, Índia e China, oito horas à frente.
Para efeito de comparação alguns profissionais que cobram em torno de R$50 por consulta incluem: técnicos em informática, Personal Trainers, garotas de programa, tarólogos , massagistas e cabeleireiros. Sem medir o mérito de um ou outro, pela complexidade e responsabilidade, o tempo de um profissional que leva em média 10 anos para chegar ao mercado de trabalho deve ser mais valorizado.
Visando analisar o mercado, me cadastrei há alguns anos, junto a diversas empresas de pesquisa para participar de projetos. Recentemente, fui solicitado como entrevistador secreto, a decorar um longo script, pegar meu carro e ir ao centro da cidade (Brasília) em horário comercial, inquirir os funcionários de uma loja de pneus sobre uma dezena de itens, avaliar diversas variáveis, preencher vários formulários, scannear as notas fiscais, tudo para ganhar um balanceamento grátis (R$30). Há muita qualificação envolvida nesta atividade. Não é para qualquer um. Ai penso comigo: “vou perder uma tarde inteira fazendo consultoria para uma empresa multinacional por digamos ai, R$7,5 por hora?” Realmente não. Pedi para ser removido da lista.
Parte significativa dos trabalhos são encomendados por clientes no exterior. O fortalecimento do Real frente ao Dólar, certamente encareceu os projetos no Brasil, que por seus elevados custos trabalhistas e tributários tendem a ser em média 30% mais caros que no México por exemplo. Fazer pesquisa no Brasil sempre será mais caro que em outros países latino-americanos, isto deve ficar bem claro. Em janeiro de 2009 a paridade era de US$1/R$2,35, em dezembro em torno de US$1/R$1,70, uma perda de cerca de 28%. O Real valorizado foi um problema amplamente discutido na mídia, pela dificuldade enfrentada pelos exportadores brasileiros dos mais diversos produtos e também serviços.
Especialmente no que tange a área médica corremos o risco que esta pesca predatória simplesmente leve a atividade de pesquisa a extinção, após resolução do CFM (Conselho Federal de Medicina) ou CRMs (Conselhos Regionais de Medicina) implementarem limites ou mesmo proibições éticas a atividade. Vide proibição à atuação de empresas de telemarketing no Estado de São Paulo. Cabe as empresas brasileiras - e estrangeiras- e também as associações setoriais ABEP, ASBMP, ESOMAR etc, reflexão profunda e imediata sobre o assunto. A competição e busca insaciável por ganhos de eficiência está levando a banalização da atividade e exploração de determinados grupos profissionais.
*Professor de Marketing internacional e Gerente-executivo da Enterbrazil Consultoria.
Para ler mais artigos do autor visite: http://enterbrazilconsult.blogspot.com
terça-feira, 1 de dezembro de 2009
Designated as a "pharmerging market," Brazil is revamping its pricing models.
Sep 2, 2009
By: Marcelo Sicoli
Volume 33, Issue 9, pp. 18-22
Brazil is the eighth largest pharmaceutical market in the world with 2008 sales estimated at $19.5 billion and the number of units sold in 2008 estimated at 1.8 billion (1). By 2011, Brazil and the other "pharmerging" markets (Russia, India, China, Mexico, South Korea, and Turkey) are expected to contribute approximately 27% of the overall global pharmaceutical growth and 16% of the global market (2). Keen to take advantage of this growth, the Brazilian government has been proactive on the regulatory and entrepreneurship fronts.
One issue at center-stage in the Brazilian pharmaceutical market is its pricing models. The government is known to purchase medical products through public biddings to get the lowest possible prices.
Now, pharmaceutical companies that participate in the bidding process will have to be qualified by Anvisa, Brazil's National Health Surveillance Agency, in a measure to ensure quality and to compensate for the large tax-load that Brazilian pharmaceutical companies have to pay in comparison with other regional markets. (The measure is expected to be passed by the end of 2009.)
In Brazil, for example, companies include taxes (about 35%) in the final price of their products, which are ultimately paid for by the consumer, according to Febrafarma, the country's pharmaceutical industry association. As a result, the consumer does not know how much of what they are paying is tax-based and how much is for the actual product. To compare, the pharmaceutical tax rate is zero in Venezuela and Mexico and approximately 21% in Argentina.
"Such a change will bring benefits to patients, who will have access to medicines of better quality, since low prices won't be the most important criteria for government's acquisitions," says Mario Caetano, director of pharmaceutical consulting at Visanco (Brasilia), a third-party pharmaceutical quality service provider. "Additionally, public companies will benefit from the change in official purchase procedures, aimed at ensuring broader guarantees for prequalified companies, working under strict quality controls."
Another pharmaceutical-product pricing issue is pending in the country's Supreme Court. The court is deciding whether guidelines should be set to allow public financing of high-cost medicines. The country's constitution states that, "Health is a right of all and a duty of the State and shall be guaranteed by means of social and economic policies aimed at reducing the risk of illness and other hazards and at the universal and equal access to actions and services for its promotion, protection and recovery" (4). Many citizens have been using this clause to sue the Ministry of Health to be granted access to medications they cannot get in public hospitals. Currently, both over-the-counter and prescription drugs are provided free of charge in public hospitals, but the type and amount of items available is more limited than what may be available in a private drugstore, where consumers must pay for the products. The government, however, claims that patients can get medications of equivalent efficacy (i.e., lower-priced generic drugs) from their doctors.
Promoting partnerships and investment
Also in front-page Brazilian pharmaceutical industry news are a torrent of new deals. In 2008, the country's commercial deficit was nearly $3.5 billion, and yet, pharmaceutical-based imports totaled $4.5 billion, or about 80% of domestic demand. Exports in 2008, meanwhile, totaled $1 billion (3). In April 2009, the government initiated nine public–private partnerships between government-run labs and private companies. The initiative aims to save $80 million per year in governmental drug purchases. Seven state-owned pharmaceutical companies will partner with 10 private firms, including Brazil's Globe and India's Lupin Pharmaceuticals, to produce 21 medicines offered by the public health system. The contracts aim to transfer the technology of and develop 24 pharmaceuticals that have reached patent expiry. They include treatments for diseases such as HIV, tuberculosis, and asthma as well as conditions related to hemophilia and cholesterol. The government's direct purchase of these medicines currently accounts for $400 million per year.
On the research and development (R&D) side, private and public companies currently invest around $14 billion per year into new products and treatment—that's less than 1% of the world's total R&D investment, according to ANPEI, the country's National Association for Research and Development of Innovative Companies. But investment is expected to increase. "Brazilians just need one opportunity to take off," said Brazilian neuroscientist Miguel Nicolelis, a leading researcher at Duke University in North Carolina, during a press event in April 2009 in Saõ Paulo.
In the past, developing countries were restricted to manufacturing products developed by the headquarters of multinational companies based in developed economies. Now, the search for lower costs has promoted a cultural change toward decentralization among multinationals. A 2008 Febrafarma poll showed that R&D investments by Brazilian companies went up 68% and by multinational firms, 11%. Between January and April 2009, foreign direct investment in Brazil's domestic market reached $366 million, as compared with $73 million during the same period in 2008, according to Febrafarma. Novartis, for example, is investing $200 million to build a new facility in the state of Pernambuco.
In addition, Cristalia, a Saõ Paulo-based laboratory, is beginning R&D activities in biotechnology. A facility under construction will consume around $25 million in investments to start production of human growth hormone and interferon in 2012. The Brazilian government spends $60 million every year to buy these drugs and until 2007, the company had 12 patents registered in Brazil and nearly 60 filed abroad.
Following this path, Pfizer (New York) plans to increase by 20% the number of researchers it employees (currently 50) in Brazil during the next two years, according to a company release.
With more investments being poured into private–public partnerships to manufacture pharmaceuticals locally and pending legislation set to improve the cost and quality of domestically manufactured products, Brazil's pharma market is indeed emerging. Overall, prospects are good for Brazilian and international companies willing to partner with the government or local research institutions to develop pharmaceutical products not only directed to Brazilian consumers but also to the global market.
Marcelo Sicoli is a consultant with Enterbrazil Consultancy in Brasilia, Brazil.
1. "Brasil e India Precisam Fortalecer Parcerias," Gazeta Mercantil, May 19, 2009.
2. IMS Health Market Prognosis, March 2008.
3. Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Trade, http://www.desenvolvimento.gov.br/.
4. Article 196, Brazilian Constitution, 1988.
Many analysts argue that the future for Brazil, which has been called for decades “the country of the future,” has finally arrived. With inflation under control and economic growth above the world average (5.4% and 5.3% in 2007 and 2008, respectively) its considerable population of almost 200 million presents very attractive prospects for pharmaceutical companies all over the world.
The health sector as a whole represents 8% of the Brazilian GDP, around US$80 billion per year. Government purchases represent 50% of the market for medical equipments, and more than 90% of the vaccines and 25% of all drugs (Brazilian Ministry of Health).
In 2008, the Brazilian pharmaceutical market was estimated to reach US$ 14.9 billion, 34% of Latin America, jumping 23% from 2007 (IMS Health). Twenty percent of that is made up of generic drugs, which cost on average 35% less than reference drugs (Progenericos). Brazilian companies have a market share of around 20% only.
On the foreign trade side, Brazilian products totaled more than US$961 million in exports in 2008, a 29% increase from 2007. The main export markets are Venezuela (14%), Argentina (13%) and the USA (12%). On the other hand, imports amounted to US$ 4.28 billion, an increase of 21% year over year, coming mainly from the USA (19%), Germany and Switzerland (13% each). For example, all 450 tons of amoxicillin (antibiotics) consumed per year are imported.
Estimates point out that 30% of the drugs sold in Brazil are not registered. According to the Brazilian Federal Police, 500 thousand units (130 tons) of non-registered and counterfeit medications were seized in 2008, mainly amphetamines, steroids, contraceptives and drugs for erectile dysfunction. New legislation (to be implemented gradually during the next three years) was passed in January of 2009 by the Senate to enforce monitoring of medical products via electronic bar code systems on the production, commercialization, distribution, and medical prescription of drugs.
Federal regulatory bodies
The National Health Surveillance Agency (ANVISA), created in 1999, is the equivalent of the American FDA. ANVISA is an independently managed, financially-autonomous regulatory agency, with security of tenure for its directors during the period of their mandates. ANVISA is managed by a board of directors, comprised of five members. Within the structure of Federal Public Administration, the Agency is linked to the Ministry of Health, under a Management Contract.
The agency incorporates additional mandates: coordination of the National Sanitary Surveillance System (SNVS), the National Program of Blood and Blood Products and the National Program of Prevention and Control of Hospital Infections; monitoring of drug prices and prices of medical devices; attributions pertaining to regulation, control and inspection of smoking products; technical support in granting of patents by the National Institute of Industrial Property. ANVISA is headquartered in the capital of Brazil, Brasilia, presently the fourth-largest city in the country.
In addition, ANVISA exercises control over ports, airports and borders and also liaises with the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and foreign institutions over matters concerning international aspects of sanitary surveillance. More information, as well as many relevant laws in English can be obtained from the agency’s website. 
US Pharmacopeia recognized the value of the Brazilian market by opening its fourth overseas location (after Switzerland, India and China) in Sao Paulo last August. “Brazil has one of the fastest-growing pharmaceutical industries in the world, [and] is increasingly adhering to international quality standards,” said Dr Flavio Vormittag, MD, MS, VP, international, for USP.
Key trade associations include Febrafarma, the Brazilian Pharmaceutical Industry Federation, Interfarma, the Brazilian Researched-based Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Assn., and ProGenericos, the Brazilian Assn. of Generic Drugs Industry (see box). Interfarma is the representative organization to the U.S.’s Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Assn. (PhRMA).
Intellectual property rights
In Brazil, no health-related product can be produced, imported, exposed for sale, or delivered for consumption before a registration is obtained from ANVISA. Before that, a company has to be first registered with the state level health authority and then in the Federal level (done by ANVISA). If a company does not want to start formal operations in the Brazilian territory and only export products to the country, there is the possibility of hiring a company or finding a distributor already legalized to become an exclusive distributor of the foreign products in Brazil.
The registration of a drug is valid for 5 years, and the costs vary according to the size of the company requesting it. A large company (revenue above US$25 million) for example, would spend R$8,000 (US$4,000) for licensing a new product, while the registration of a “family” of products (same drug with different sizes and presentations) would cost R$ 12,000 (US$6,000). Just to receive a visit from an ANVISA technician to obtain a “Certificate of Good Manufacturing Practices,” a company will have to spend US$18,500, regardless of its size.
One point of concern for foreign companies is the observance of intellectual property rights. At least in comparison with Russia, India and China, Brazil is best positioned in regards to the TRIPS (Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) norms. Nonetheless, in emergency situations, national legislation allows the cancellation of patents (or “compulsory licensing” as it is called), as seen in May 2007, with the anti-AIDS drug Efavirenz, produced by Merck Sharp & Dohme, even after an offer was made by the company to lower the price by 30%.
A major criticism of the legislation (which provides that the Agency has 90 days to assess the processes filed with it) is that it does not mention a deadline for the evaluation of technical requirements, which causes some petitions to take more than a year to be finalized, since they enter a waiting list with no regulation.
Doing business in Brazil
Many positive aspects of the Brazilian pharmaceutical market draw the attention of foreigners. Most senior officials in the Ministries and Regulatory Agencies do not speak English. However, some junior officials can be found with good knowledge of the language. Although the country is still placed in intermediary positions of world corruption rankings, the fact that the Brazilian Federal Government pays employees salaries sometimes 3 to 4 times higher than those found in the private sector on an entry level acts as an important disincentive. With qualified professionals from top universities competing for a public job, private companies in some industries have a hard time to find qualified professionals.
Brazilians, culturally speaking, are always very open and receptive to foreigners in informal social environments as well as in the corporate realm. One thing to be highlighted, however, is that companies need to establish a public perception of generating jobs and promoting public health, and not of putting profitability first.
One of the most complex and highest tax burden in the world also poses serious challenges for companies operating or planning to start activities in the Brazilian territory. According to a report by the World Bank, a company can spend up to 72% of its profits on taxes and take 2,600 hours per year to fulfill bureaucratic obligations, compared to 430.5 hours in other Latin American Countries and 202.9 in the developed world.
Recebemos de uma empresa polonesa tarefa supostamente simples: encontrar um exportador de bananas no Brasil. “Yes, nós temos bananas, banana para dar e vender”, dizia a música dos anos 30. Em um país tão grande, com água disponível e clima propício, banana parece algo fácil de comprar. Mas aí começa a grande surpresa. Com os números crescentes de exportação divulgados pelo Governo e a aparente eficiência e maturidade das estruturas de comércio exterior brasileiro, parece ser o caso de apenas acessar um dos sites de promoção comercial do País, como o Brazil4export da CNI (Confederação Nacional da Indústria) ou o “Exportadores Brasileiros” mantido pelo Ministério do Desenvolvimento, fazer algumas ligações e a missão estaria cumprida. Conclusão errada.
Juntamente com o Braziltradenet do Itamaraty, o Brazil4export e o “Exportadores Brasileiros” são considerados os mais importantes diretórios de exportadores brasileiros. No entanto, chama atenção como as informações lá presentes estão desatualizadas e incapazes de gerar resultados concretos. No caso específico das bananas, o site da CNI apresenta 36 empresas cadastradas como exportadoras do produto. Dentre elas, a maior construtora do Brasil, a Odebrecht, que também está cadastrada como exportadora de ovos, minério de ferro, entre outros produtos. Contatando todas as empresas listadas, com exceção da citada, descobre-se que apenas uma das empresas tem capacidade de exportação, contudo não para a Europa. Essa empresa, de Santa Catarina, exporta apenas por via terrestre para o Mercosul. Exportar para o Velho Continente poderia ser possível, mas com custo elevado e demandando muito trabalho e tempo até que se atenda as exigências e detalhes envolvidos em uma exportação marítima de produto tão perecível.
E pasmem: 75% das empresas listadas não trabalham com o produto, seus telefones não funcionam, seus e-mails não existem ou sequer são respondidos. Muito aquém de ser um número aceitável. Descrentes com os resultados obtidos, fizemos contatos adicionais atingindo 60 empresas. Dessas, apenas uma localizada no Rio Grande do Norte tinha o produto disponível, preços competitivos, conhecimento e estrutura para o negócio pretendido.
O site “Exportadores Brasileiros”, acessível em 4 idiomas, tem para a banana e outros produtos, empresas cadastradas sem qualquer informação de contato. Trata-se de um problema básico que precisa ser urgentemente corrigido.
É de suma importância que estes sites passem por uma profunda renovação e mudança de metodologias. Nossos concorrentes no cenário internacional estão ávidos para conquistar cada vez mais mercados. A China e o Brasil ocupavam em 1983, cerca de 1,2% das exportações mundiais cada, de acordo com dados da OMC. Já em 2005, a participação do Brasil continuava nos mesmos 1,2% enquanto que a chinesa saltou para 7,5%, fazendo do gigante asiático o terceiro maior exportador do mundo. Analisando os países projetados como as maiores economias do mundo no ano de 2050, vê-se o Brasil no último lugar no quesito crescimento de exportações. No período de 2001-2005, enquanto avançamos respeitáveis 99,5% nos valores das vendas externas, a Índia cresceu 133,4%, a China 186,3% e a Rússia 139,7%. E os competidores não estão limitados a esses três países.
As exportações brasileiras estão crescendo, mas poderiam crescer a um patamar mais apropriado para o status de 10ª maior economia do planeta. É importante que as associações de exportadores, entidades de classe, empresas e consórcios de exportação reflitam sobre aspectos fundamentais: Nossos clientes estão conseguindo nos encontrar? Quando nos acham, temos profissionais qualificados para prestar informações em um bom Inglês? Caso os contatos se desenvolvam, temos capacidade de produção e qualidade para honrar os compromissos feitos? Temos assessoria adequada para efetivamente embarcar os produtos para o exterior? Realmente esperamos que sim.
*Analista Internacional da EnterBrazil Consultoria (email@example.com)
No, We don’t have BANANAS (by Marcelo Sicoli*)
In 2007, we have received from a Polish company an apparently simple task: Find Brazilian exporters of Bananas. “Yes, we have bananas, bananas to give away and to sell”, said a song in the 30s. In such a big country, with available water and adequate climate, bananas seem to be something easy to find. But that’s where the big surprise beginnings. With the growing exporting numbers released by the Brazilian Government and the supposed efficiency and maturity of the foreign trade structures in Brazil, we may think that it’s only a matter of accessing one of the official websites of commercial promotion of the country, like CNI’s(National Confederation of Industries) Brazil4export or “Brazilian exporters” managed by the Ministry of Foreign Trade, make a few phone calls and mission accomplished. Wrong conclusion.
If one add Braziltradenet, managed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he will have the major directories of Brazilian exporters. However, it calls the attention the number of outdated information, and thus unable to generate concrete results. In the specific case of bananas, CNI’s website has 36 listed companies as bananas exporters. Among them, the largest Brazilian construction company, Odebrecht, who is also presented as an exporter of eggs, iron ore and other products (it doesn’t sell those products of course). Contacting all listed companies, it’s possible to find that only one company is capable of exporting bananas, but not to Europe. This company based in Santa Catarina State, exported only via highways to Mercosur’s countries. Exporting to the “Old Continent” could be possible, but only with elevated costs, and a great deal of time and effort in order to understand and fulfill all requirements and details involved in the shipping of a high perishable item.
To make things worse, believe it or not: 75% of companies listed either doesn’t work with bananas, or their phones and emails don’t exist or are not answered. Well beyond an acceptable figure. One of those websites, available in 4 languages, has companies subscribed as sellers of bananas and other products, without any contact information. This is an extremely basic failure that needs to be urgently corrected. Not believing the obtained results, we have contacted more 60(yes, sixty) companies. To find a single one in Rio Grande do Norte State with available product, competitive prices, knowledge, experience and structure for the deal.
It’s of utmost importance that those websites (and others, important communication tools in the so called globalized world) undergo renovations and changes of methodology. Our competitors in the international scenario are avid to conquer more and more markets. China and Brazil had in 1983, around 1,2% of world’s exports each, according to WTO data. In 2005 however, Brazil’s share was still 1,2% while the Chinese had jumped to 7,5%, making the Asiatic giant the third largest exporter in the globe then. Among the BRICs, Brazil is in the last position in terms of exports growth. For instance, while Brazil has advanced in the period 2001-2005, 99,5% in dollars earned in foreign sales, India grew 133,4%, China 186,3% and Russia 139,7%. And the competitors are not limited to those three.
Brazilian exports are expanding, but still below the level adequate for the 10° biggest economy in the world. It’s important that association of exporters and producers, companies and public entities reflect upon the following fundamental aspects: Our clients are being able to find us? When they find us, do we have qualified personnel to serve them in a good English (or Chinese or Spanish…)? If the negotiations evolve, do we have production capacity and quality to fulfill the commitments made? Do we have the means to effectively ship the goods abroad? I really hope so.
*Executive Manager of EnterBrazil Consultancy (firstname.lastname@example.org)