São Paulo – A regular dish at dinner tables throughout Brazil, pamonha, a savory or sweet corn tamale-like paste wrapped in corn husks, has been gaining markets worldwide with the exports by Pamonha Gourmet, located in Jambeiro, 124 km from São Paulo.
Today, pamonhas from São Paulo are sold in England, Spain, Portugal, France, Ireland and Belgium. “We sell to a distributor in London that supplies ethnic markets focused on Brazilian expats. Foreigners also buy them, but the majority [of consumers] are Brazilians”, says Humberto Azenha, the company’s founding partner.
Azenha founded Pamonha Gourmet on August 2015 after eight years working in the exports department of a fruit and fruit pulp company. In the beginning, the company went through an adjustment process with the product, the recipes and production, until sales started in January of this year.
It took only a month for the businessman to land a partnership in England’s capital after going through the contact list he had built throughout his career. “We have this partnership in London and through him we are able to reach other countries”, he says.
England is the largest external market of the company, which produces 20,000 pamonhas a month. With only seven employees, the company is able to produce 150 pamonhas per hour. From the total output, 30% is sent abroad. The English market accounts for 25% of foreign sales.
Pamonha Gourmet’s product line includes sweet, savory and light pamonhas. According to Azenha, the sweet pamonha is the most successful abroad. Each package comes with two frozen pamonhas and has a shelf life of one year. Abroad, each package is sold for USD 3.
The Middle East is on the radar of the company from São Paulo. Azenha says that he’s looking for a partner in the region to distribute his products. “We have been in contact with importing companies, but we haven’t signed anything yet”, he says.
He says he made these contacts at the fair Gulfood, in a year in which he visited it as a guest. Gulfood is the largest foodstuff and beverage fair in the Midde East and is held annually in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
According to the businessman, he’s been negotiating with importers from Dubai. Besides the UAE, he says that he is also focusing on Saudi Arabia’s market. In these countries, Azenha doesn’t want to focus only on Brazilians, but also wants Arabs to start buying his pamonhas. So, Azenha wants to place the products in supermarkets, hotels, cafeterias and restaurants.
“I think that the product fits their day-to-day. It’s a healthy option for dessert, 100% natural, without preservatives, I think it can reach the foreigners. The great deal [of exports] is when the local public starts to consume the product”, he points out. When time comes to start selling to Arabs, the businessman plans to seek help from the Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce. “I will use the services offered by the Arab Chamber to translate the packaging”, he says. Pamonha Gourmet is still negotiating with Canada and United States.
According to Azenha, the company aims to double its production until August 2017. Along with this goal, he expects to increase the percentage of exports. “The ideal situation is to direct 50% to domestic market and 50% to exports”, he concludes.
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*Translated by Sérgio Kakitani