Brazil in a Bottle

The cachaça body’s chairman, Vicente Bastos Ribeiro, says exports last year stood at just over a million cases, a measily 1% of production. But with the world’s eyes firmly fixed on Brazil for the next two and a half years, we will never get a better indication as to the exportabliity of its spirit. 

“Cachaça is Brazil in a bottle,” says Ribeiro. “The spirit trade can take advantage of the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016 – cachaça has the potential to assume an expressive share of the international spirit market.” 

Germany is currently cachaça’s top export market but, according to Ribeiro, this is set to change. “The market for cachaça in the US has been growing at a faster pace than anywhere else, making it possible that it will overtake Germany as the largest export market in 2014.” 

Joining the party

Especially, one would think, if the Americans contract World Cup fever – and go on to create an association between football and cachaça – which now, of course, is a legal term. Churlish as it might sound, the link between Brazilian football and the old moniker, Brazilian rum, might have been an easier sell – certainly in linguistic terms. But on the other hand, what better time to establish cachaça in the hearts and minds of the world’s biggest premium spirits market?

“Without question, Americans will be joining the party,” says Leblon’s Luttmann. “World Cup popularity has grown considerably in the US – the last World Cup in 2010 drew 112 million American viewers, with the final game drawing 24 million viewers in the US – 70% higher than the 14 million viewers for the baseball World Series, and 37% higher than the 18 million viewers from this past June’s NBA Finals Game 7 Heat vs Spurs.”  

Compelling stuff, but Luttmann’s not finished: “Expectations for the 2014 World Cup are even higher. The event will be held just one hour ahead of the US Eastern time zone, so games will be shown live during the afternoon and evenings, boosting viewership immensely versus 2010. Viewers from around the country will be tuning in to watch the World Cup like they watched the London Olympics in 2012. And the net result will be an enormous interest in Brazil.”

Having won the Legalise Cachaça debate in the US, Leblon must be thinking anything’s possible. “We’ve seen 15% growth overall since the legalisation,” says Luttmann. “It’s been a helpful catalyst in the education front, especially with bartenders, and provides a nice foundation and momentum to the run-up to the World Cup. It’s really given the category the credibility and respect it deserves. We have a significant new advertising campaign launching in key markets in the US. The main media will be outdoor, combined with digital and in-store, bar promotions.”

According to IBRAC, the other three of the top four export markets are Germany, Portugal and Spain – coincidently these are also football-mad countries represented at this year’s World Cup. Cachaça has had some success in the UK too – and if the British like anything, it’s themed drinking and football. Then there are the category’s South American strongholds of Paraguay, Bolivia, Argentina and Chile, which will have more than an eye on their continental cousins. All in all, for the 1,500 registered cachaça producers, there is plenty of work to be done.