quarta-feira, 19 de junho de 2013

EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Eric Rosenberg - Brewers Association

A group of representatives from the US' Brewers Association will be at Brasil Brau – the main beer business event in Latin America next week. They have an agenda, of course. A fair one, as we see it: to sell more US craft beers to the public here.

Here in Brasil, we don't have many of them, actually – shame on us. The reasons are many; to sum it up: high taxes, bad logistics and a lot of bureaucracy. The retail price for a 12 oz. bottle of Sam Adams Boston Lager (just to name a very common craft brand) in Brazil is R$ 15 (US$ 7,50).

Anyway, the american breweries have noticed that brazilians won't shy away from getting thein spite of the high prices. In this exclusive interview, we approached BA's head of the exports program (EDP), Eric Rosenberg with all this jazz. Check it out !


How many craft breweries from the USA are currently exporting to Brasil? Do you have an actual figure on the volume of exports for 2013 and years before, so i can measure the evolution?

We believe there are 10 US craft breweries now exporting to Brazil. We rely on a voluntary industry export survey for our data and there are certainly breweries that do not reply to that survey. So there could be some other breweries exporting small amounts to Brazil. But there are 10 breweries we are aware of and these would represent the vast majority of U.S. craft beer exports to Brazil.
Exports to Brazil in 2012 were estimated at about 4,600 bbls roughly equal to about $ 1.2 million. The previous year (2011), US craft beer exports to Brazil were estimated at 1,832 bbls. Exports increased by about 150% in the last year.

Do you see the interest in trading with Brazil growing among USA craft brewers?

We see interest growing among US craft breweries in exporting in general. Many breweries have invested in brewery expansion that has enabled them to increase production. This allows them to explore new markets for their products and the development of new sales channels is important. Some breweries are having success with exports to Brazil and this is attracting the attention of other U.S. breweries. So yes, I think interest in trade with Brazil will continue to grow.

A report written for BA in 2009 points to taxes and logistics as the main difficulties for companies trying to export to Brasil. That reality hasn't changed, internally, yet we've seen more USA craft breweries bringing their products to our country in the last couple of years. Why? Are they doing something special to deal with these issues? Have the incentives from the USA Department of Agriculture changed somehow?

The reality in terms of taxes has not changed. But some important changes have taken place in terms of logistics. Brazilian customs requires a health certificate for imported beer but only from approved laboratories in the US. Years ago there were few approved laboratories and most were affiliated with one of the big brewing companies. Now there are more laboratories approved to do the analysis for Brazil, making it easier for breweries to get this done. Also, when we first visited Brazil beer importers there were not set up to keep the beer under refrigerated conditions. This is important to most US craft breweries. There are now importers in Brazil capable of meeting this demand. So, the logistical situation has improved. The other reason you are seeing more US breweries expt to Brazil is simply that there is proven demand and the products are selling even though they are at a high price. As other breweries see that it is possible to have success in Brazil they become interested.

On a more "cultural" level, the american brews are generally known for their high hop content. Is that trend still on in the USA craft brew scene, or do you sense some change?

The American IPA beer style (which has a high hop content) remains very popular in the United States and is a focal point for many U.S. craft breweries. However, it is one of many different beer styles produced by American craft breweries. Most American craft breweries produce a wide range of products that vary in alcohol strength, malt flavors, and hop content. Sour beers were very popular in recent years. Seasonal offerings are among the best sellers. U.S. breweries are known for their innovation and U.S. consumers are generally eager to try new products though the American IPA style remains strong.

Last year, we've had the presence of two renowned USA brewers - Garrett Oliver from Brooklyn and Greg Koch from Stone - collaborating with brazilian companies (Wäls and Bodebrown, respectively). Do you believe we'll see more of that happening? Are USA craft brewers more interested in what brazilians are brewing?

Yes, I think there will be more visits from American brewers and collaboration with Brazilian companies. U.S. brewers are interested in the craft beer movement in countries around the world and many are eager to share and learn from their colleagues in the industry.

Last year, according to data I've gathered from the brazilian Ministry of Agriculture, the country had a record of new breweries in 2012 (31 registered, versUSA only 2 in 1992). You've had 409 last year (according to data from BA until March, 18th). Brasil is similar to the USA in population, though not in legislation and purchase power, etc, so the comparison is not 100% accurate, but... do you think we'll ever reach this level?

This is a difficult question to answer. The economy, political environment, and business environment are very important to the development of this industry. I do not know about Brazil’s laws and how easy it is for entrepreneurs to start a brewery/business. I don’t know how easy it is for them to access equipment or ingredients. I believe the craft beer industry will continue to grow in Brazil because consumers will continue to gain an appreciation for these products. As demand increases, there will be an incentive for new breweries to enter the market.

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