Brazilian peanut giant sets eyes on Latin America

Brazil´s Santa Helena Industria Alimentos, the country´s biggest maker of peanut products, is determined to  spread throughout the Latin American market beginning with the Mercosur trade bloc. 

Unlike exports by other Brazilian companies, which can be intermittent based on demand, Santa Helena has been working since 2013 to build consistent markets in Latin America that can support large levels of sustained production.

“We have always exported, but were concentrated on our two main brands, and this for the Brazilian communities in the U.S., Japan and Europe,” Mirella Figueiredo, the company´s export manager, recently told Latin Business Daily.

The company's current export efforts include its full line of products, not just peanut-based sweets. Products in the line include peanut-based goods for athletes.

In Latin America, the products go by truck from the company's industrial production site, approximately 188 miles away from Sao Paulo, to destinations as far away as Chile. 

The decision to concentrate on Latin America, as opposed to bigger markets such as the U.S., has much to do with geographic proximity as well as the Mercosur trade incentives. Also, Figueiredo said, the exports are based on demand.  

“Other South American countries have a bigger per capita peanut consumption,” she said. 

Peru, for example, is one of the biggest peanut importers from Brazil.

In some countries, multiple types of sweets, as well as dishes such as  “peanut soups” are popular. 

Markets such as the U.S. also may have stricter regulatory requirements, Figueiredo said. Santa Helena, however,  is already meeting strict requirements in countries such as Japan, where it has been exporting products directed at the Brazilian community for 15 years. 

The company, which processes one-fourth of Brazil's peanut production, has 1,489 employees, not including farmers trained and financed by the company to produce peanuts in the Riberao Preto area where the company is located.

That area is used for intense sugar cane production, and peanut cultivation is used to help rotate crops and enrich the land. As a result, the soil is rich in sucralose, which helps produce a sweeter peanut that is different from that in other countries, Figueiredo said.

The company started out with a girl selling artisanal sweets nearly 75 years ago. It produces 48,000 tons of products annually, but only 3 percent are exports. Santa Helena has three plants and a distribution fleet of 450 trucks in Brazil.

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Santa Helena Industria Alimentos

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