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‘Brazil poised to become magnet for US exporters’

Agriculture demand is set to soar as Brazil’s 21 million middle-class households become increasingly health-conscious, according to the USDA.

Brazil’s nascent economic recovery, growing middle class and aging demographics could make it an attractive market for US agricultural exports in the years to come, according to a USDA report.

The country has begun to recover from the worst recession in its history, which stretched back over eight quarters ending in Q2 2017, the agency said in a report released this week. As it does, a clearer picture has begun to emerge of how Brazil’s middle class, which expanded by almost 70 percent between 2000 and 2016, is likely to shape demand for agricultural imports.

“Trends show that Brazilians are purchasing less in quantity and focusing more on the quality of products,” Foreign Agricultural Service economist Nina Pham noted in the report. “For this reason, long-term projections for retail food and beverage sales, which had dipped from a high in 2014, now indicate growth recovery.”

Brazil’s agricultural imports have doubled to $10 billion since joining the WTO in 1995, with key products including wheat, fresh and processed fruits and vegetables, dairy products and others. Though only 8 percent of these imports came from the US last year, the resulting $872 million in revenue represented a 231 percent increase on 2000, according to the USDA.

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The country’s aging population is likely to be helpful to US producers, shaping the nature of agricultural imports in a way that benefit them. The percentage of Brazil’s population that is 65 years of age or older is expected to rise from 8 percent last year to 10 percent in 2021.

Like consumers elsewhere, the report says, aging Brazilians are increasingly focused on their health.

“With Brazil’s aging population and shift in consumer trends to healthier food alternatives, US organic food has the potential to prosper,” Pham said. “Introducing higher-value products such as organic prepared food options to the Brazilian market addresses both health and sustainability concerns represented in current consumer trends.”

Other sectors the USDA says stand to benefit from changing consumption patterns include fresh beef, where US producers face stiff competition from neighboring South American nations, and alcoholic beverages, consumption of which is growing at a faster rate than retail food or non-alcoholic beverages.