Impact International / April 15, 1997
By Larry Luxner
Brazil's National Bank for Economic and Social Development (BNDES) will loan nearly $28 million to the wine industry in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul to finance wine exports.
According to the industry association UVIBRA (União Brasileira de Viticultura), Rio Grande do Sul exports 12 million bottles of fine wine, six million tons of grape-juice concentrates and 15 million liters of ordinary wine per year, reaching annual revenues of around $30 million. The sector is projected to sell 292 million liters during 1997, up from 256 million liters last year.
Some 95% of Brazil's fine wine is exported by Cooperativa Aurora's Marcus James brand, while ordinary wine is trucked mainly to Paraguay and the grape-juice concentrates end up in Europe, Asia and the United States. At the moment, 40% of the fine wine consumed in Brazil is imported. And though Aurora's winery in the town of Bento Gonçalves is one of the biggest in South America, Brazil's wine exports are still far behind those of Argentina and Chile.
Even so, Valter A. Neis, general manager of Aurora, says Brazil's federal bureau-cracy is so clumsy he doesn't think the funds to boost wine exports will ever materialize.
"Politicans from our state convinced the government to help us develop wine exports," said Neis in a phone interview, "but until they approve and deliver that money is a different story."