Impact International / May 15, 1996
By Larry Luxner
The Brazilian government has approved a strict new regulation, to take effect June 22, establishing procedures for registering foreign wineries with the Ministry of Agriculture as a condition for exporting to Brazil.
Under Directive 255, published in Brazil's official gazette Apr. 23, potential wine exporters must complete a questionnaire, provide a description of the winery's installations and equipment, identify its local representative and show proof of official recognition -- in the country of origin -- of the winery's legal existence.
The directive calls for an on-site review of the winery to verify that sanitary, technical and documentary conditions are in order, with the site review taking place within six months of the Agriculture Ministry's registration of the winery. According to gov-ernment sources, some well-known wineries will be exempt from this detailed registration procedure; these will be identified by a commission made up jointly of wine industry representatives and Agriculture Ministry officials.
"There is a similar site review requirement for foreign meat, dairy and seafood establishments wishing to export products to Brazil, with the travel costs of the Brazilian officials conducting the review generally paid by the exporter or the importer," reports the U.S. Embassy in Brasília. "Such trips can be of such a high cost that smaller wineries may be dissuaded from seeking registration, unless the on-site review costs can be shared with other wineries and several of them be included in the same trip."
At the moment, foreign wines have a negligible share of Brazil's total wine market, estimated at 350 million liters. In first place is Cooperativa Vitinicola Aurora Ltda. (makers of Marcus James) with an 18% share, followed by Seagram's (Mesón Forestier and Almaden) and Cooperativa Garibaldi. Per-capita wine consumption in Brazil is only 1.9 liters -- far less than that of either beer or cachaça, the national drink made from sugar cane.