One of the great things about living abroad (I spent 13 great years in the UK) is that you can look at your own country with different eyes. Maybe it’s the economist in me, but I cannot help observing now that I’ve been back in Montevideo four months, how Uruguay has changed in the last 13 years. The businesswoman in me cannot help also to spot opportunities and to try to bridge them with the country I lived so many years in.
- Outdoor clothes and accessories.
I’ve been impressed with the number of outdoor stores opening in Uruguay, many through franchising. Brands like Columbia and North Face are known well here by the middle class that demands them, but also regional brands, mainly from Argentina and Chile.
- Sports clothes and accessories.
Maybe we are starting to see a trend here towards a healthier lifestyle? “Multi brand retail” coexists with single brand shops, and the quality and quantity of both has increased exponentially in the last 10 years. All the global brands are here in Montevideo, and also in premium seaside resort Punta del Este, but also niche brands and niche products. From hockey sticks to rugby balls, from running gear to hugely expensive bikes (yes, Specialized included), we have them all. Mind you, not much cricket gear yet, but watch this space!…
I was reading today that since Uruguay opened the doors to private competition in 1995, insurance has increased five-fold. Considering that a third of cars lack the basic compulsory insurance, I can see how this market will vastly increase in the next few years.
- Postal services.
Protectionist measures from Mercosur and heavy local taxes mean that Uruguayans are getting creative with ecommerce, and there are many companies (legally established) that provide a service by which you can buy in the US and have your items delivered to you in Uruguay. See for example what Urubox are doing. Just shows that when you are looking to trade with Latin America, you have to constantly think laterally and take into account many solutions, and always listen to consumers . From the service viewpoint, the logistics sector is expanding in Uruguay, particularly insured parcels (back to insurance, then!). Now, for British standards, we still use postal services little, 25 deliveries per person per year is the average.
Those are just four observations, there are many more, as you can imagine. Uruguay is a small country for South American standards and has a population of just over 3m. However, it is a great country to do business in, for many reasons…
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There is one trade show that everyone who works in food and drink all over the world knows about, and that is SIAL. This June, the mega show will take in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The organisers estimate that there will be 500 exhibiting brands, 25 international pavilions, and 15,000 professional visitors. We will be there. And so will be UKTI and the Food and Drink Exporters Association (FDEA) providing British businesses with TAP funding. Clearly, it is not a show to miss out.
I have a confession to make. I am actually quite excited about FISPAL, the trade show that runs in parallel to SIAL. FISPAL Tecnologia focuses on packaging, processes and logistics for the food and drink industries. Now, there I see plenty of potential for British companies. Margins are larger and visions are more long-termed, a good combination of cashflow, patience and time, which are essential in Latin America.
On another note, I was disappointed to see that all UKTI TAP funding for Latin America trade shows in 2013 is restricted to Brazil. Yes, Brazil offers plenty of potential and its appeal is unquestionable, but British businesses would be wrong to think this is an easy market. Or the only market.
Brazil is not an easy market. It is well known for its bureaucracy and corruption, for example. Competition is high, margins are low and it can take years to get yourself established here. I wonder if British food and drink SMEs have realistic opportunities about this huge (and potentially very profitable) market. I also wonder what support is there for those companies beyond a trade show, and actually beyond researching a market and appointing a distributor.
And, Brazil is not the only market. Check out other trade shows in the region, such as FITHEP ExpoAlimentaria Mercosur 2013 in Argentina or Espacio Food and Service in Chile. You can watch our video blog “it’s not just about Brazil” HERE.
While you explore trade shows that could help you in Latin America, let me leave you with some useful information:
- You will find some really good tips on the Strong and Herd website about exhibiting at international trade shows. For example, read this article by Dick Brentnall.
- There is a huge number of trade shows in Latin America. We have listed some of them HERE.
- Not quite sure if a trade show is for you or can’t afford the time or cost just now? Our Trade Show Insider service could be for you.
FactsheetsSunny Sky Solutions for your business
Opportunities for Gourmet Products in Latin America
Children's Fashion in Latin America - Overview
Health Foods in Latin America - Overview
The Retail Sector in Latin America
The Energy Sector in Latin America
Food Packaging in Latin America
Nursery and Early Years Sector in Latin America