Brazilian chewing gum producer bets export future on local, energy fruits

Brazilian confectionery Peccin is betting that the combination of local energetic fruits guarana and acai in chewing candy will greatly increase the company exports that already reach 70 countries, company export manager Alain Wehbe told Latin Business Daily in a recent interview.

The company is trying to adapt to a changing market in which consumers demand healthier products. As a result, Peccin started to produce and export candy with natural flavors known worldwide like strawberry, orange and peach. It is now embarking on a new step which is to sell chewing candy with fruits from Brazil.

Before the line of natural flavor chewing gum Pura started, the company only had four markets abroad, but in the past four years it expanded to 70 countries.

“After this success, we started this year with a new item, a totally Brazilian product," Wehbe said. "So we produced under the same concept a natural flavor chewing candy, filled with liquid inside but using these fruits which are energetic and have antioxidants.”

While different from energetic drinks, guarana and acai can offer to consumers something similar to what they could get with an energy drink, Wehbe said.

“They can put the gum in their pocket. It is different than a drink that is not so easy to handle,” Wehbe said.

The testing for the product and the first introduction was carried out earlier this year in Germany. Now there are plans to export to all of the country´s markets abroad in Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

“Today the exports for Peccin represent 20 percent of the company," Wehbe said. "For the next 5 years the plan is to reach 35 percent of the internal market.”

The export market now represents about 600 to 700 tons of sales, Wehbe said. The export market catalog includes some 70 items from bulk candy to a more expensive line of chocolates that include cocoa butter that needs to travel all along the chain refrigerated.

Peccin started operations 60 years ago and exports began 24 years ago taking advantage of its proximity to Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina as the company is located in the Brazilian state Rio Grande do Sul, only about 100 miles from the Argentina border in the city of Erechim.

The company is facing competition for the world export markets by trying to focus on making what larger companies abroad cannot.

“Normally the biggest competitors are American companies but today we are producing chewing candy totally different from what these competitors are doing,” Wehbe said.

The company also competes with American companies in the U.S. turf.

“New York is a huge market for us because we produce kosher goods," Wehbe said. "In Brazil we are the biggest kosher producer for candies. We ship every single month kosher products also to the United States, France and Israel.”