Navigating Latin America: Superfoods, Sustainability and Sourcing

21 July 2023

Safety, sustainability and regulation are three of the biggest challenges facing the food & beverage ingredient industry in Latin America, according to exhibition organiser, Informa. We caught up with Diane Coelho, Business Manager, Food ingredients South America to find out how this year’s show will help companies looking to do business in the region to negotiate this complex market.

Like its geography, Latin America’s food ingredients landscape is vast and diverse: the region accounts for 16% of global food and agriculture exports - from coffee, bananas and beef to commodities such as soy and trending ‘superfoods’ like acai berries, chia seeds and maca root.

The region’s abundant larder makes it a magnet for companies looking to source ingredients, and Fi South America, which takes place from 8-10 August in São Paulo, is the ideal forum for accessing this market. At the same time, food and beverage manufacturers should be aware of the complexities of the Latin American market, cautions Informa.

“Food manufacturers must be aware of local concerns, regulations, sustainability issues and potential costs – in addition to the many benefits of sourcing ingredients from Latin America. As the organiser of Fi South America, our mission is to accelerate innovation and inspire food business in the region. Delivering on this mandate involves creating a multi-dimensional platform that offers opportunities for businesses to not only build new relationships and discover new ingredients, but also equip themselves to cope with the challenges they may encounter,” says Diane Coelho, Business Manager, Food ingredients South America.

Safety and sustainability

According to ABIA (Brazilian Association of Food Industries), 94% of the 38,000 companies that make up Brazil’s food and beverage industry are micro or small businesses. These same companies are responsible for exporting 83% of Brazil’s trade surplus to 190 countries. Ensuring the safety and sustainability of these ingredients is a major challenge, says Informa.

“One of this critical sector’s biggest challenges is ensuring food safety regulations progress at the same pace as innovation. This will contribute to the ability of the global food and beverage industry to work with the sector on developing new products that are safe, sustainable and approved by the relevant regulatory bodies,” says Coelho.

Given the region’s stewardship of the Amazon rainforest, sustainability concerns around deforestation and the destruction of habitats are always a major consideration for companies sourcing ingredients from Latin America. This is a discussion that is continually evolving, and, as the world looks for solutions for feeding a growing global population, the narrative is increasingly focused on the sustainable development of Brazil’s bioeconomy.

At Fi South America, the Future of Nutrition Summit will explore themes such as how the food sector can accelerate the development of the bioeconomy and the relationship between the conservation of native vegetation in the Amazon and innovation in functional foods.

“Brazil’s biomes are the country’s greatest treasure, and leveraging native raw materials is the key to the future growth of Latin America’s food industry. As plant-based foods and ‘superfoods’ continue to gain traction in global markets, it is becoming more important than ever for the ingredients industry to balance innovation with sustainable sourcing,” says Coelho.

At Fi South America, there will be several new features geared towards promoting sustainable sourcing. The new Green Lounge will promote various initiatives to encourage sustainability in the industry, and the Women’s Networking Breakfast will be an exclusive gathering for women in the industry to discuss sustainability-related issues. Then there is the Azelis Vogler Space, which offers content, tastings and exhibitions of ingredients and solutions from companies prioritising sustainability.

Navigating the regulatory landscape

Food manufacturers will inevitably face regulatory hurdles when they source ingredients from Latin America, from customs duties and tariffs to food safety approvals. The regulatory climate is constantly changing, and the Future of Nutrition Summit offers an opportunity for companies to get up to speed on legislative updates, through presentations such as Nutritional Labeling: impacts in Chile and other Latin American countries, and Changes in supplement legislation: effects and compliance challenges, among others.

New ingredients have to be approved by Anvisa (the Brazilian Health Regulatory Agency) to be placed onto the market. Informa provides content throughout the year to assist the industry with obtaining approvals, and at Fi South America, will use the Regulatory Hub to explain the regulatory framework for new foods and ingredients.

Now in its 27th year, Fi South America is the ideal venue for getting to the nub of the latest trends and developments in the Latin American food and beverage ingredients industry. Over 700 companies are exhibiting and more than 10,000 visitors are expected to attend the 2023 edition.

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