More than five years ago, Brazilian confection maker Docile started efforts to ship sweets and candy to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) initially targeting only Oman; however, it has since expanded to other countries in the Persian Gulf.
“As of today, we do have sales and operations in several countries in the GCC region,” Cristian Ahlert, export coordinator of Docile, recently told the Gulf News Journal by telephone from Brazil.
Earlier this year, the family owned company expanded to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia with the aim of eventually placing candy in big retail chains, such as Carrefour and others.
Some products in Docile's product line, which include gelatin candy known as “Gelatine," corn starch candy or “Docigoma," and marshmallows or “Maxmallows," have had a longer presence in other countries in the broader Middle East area, including Kuwait, Oman, Jordan and Israel as well as adjacent Palestinian territories.
Unlike Dubai, where Docile's products will be sold in large chain stores, in other areas in the region sales are done through wholesalers and smaller neighborhood stores as in Brazil.
So far this year, Docile's work in the Emirates has involved more contact with supermarkets and hypermarkets; however, in countries, such as Oman and Jordan, larger selling venues are not as popular as in the Emirates, Ahlert said.
Sales in Saudi Arabia have only involved one product: compressed sweets known as “Minty." The company is seeking distributors in Qatar and Bahrain as well.
In the first three years that Docile sold its products in Oman, sales goals were reached, leading to a second stage where company displays were placed at points of sale inside stores.
Docile is hoping to advance talks in Oman so that its products will finally be sold at LuLu hypermarket next year.
The products sold in the GCC region are similar to those sold in Brazil. The only changes are the packaging, which include information in Arabic. In some cases, there is a need to use different ingredients for color due to health regulations.
For other products, including Gelatine, a Halal certification is required. Docile obtained the certification for its products in recent years, which is of key importance since many of its competitors have not been able to obtain the same.
While most of Docile's sales activity hits a high point around Christmas time in Brazil, in the GCC, sales peak around the end of Ramadan.
The GCC region currently accounts for approximately 15 percent of all of the company's exports or about 3 percent of the company´s total sales.
“We have plans looking to 2018 that aim to develop our exports and increase sales in this region so that they will be bigger than 20 percent of total exports,” Ahlert said.
The GCC region is the second most-important export market for Docile, falling right behind South America, Ahlert said.
Docile's big competitors in the GCC are companies that export from Turkey and Europe, particularly from Spain and Germany.