Upbeat Latin market

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THE time has never been better for OP manufacturers and resellers to explore and develop new opportunities in Latin America.
Over the last few years, the office products markets in several Latin American economies have shown steady growth, the falling dollar and growing prosperity in Latin economies are boosting imports, and some of Latin America’s largest economies are importing record levels of consumer goods and capital equipment. Recently concluded bilateral treaties are also accelerating more trade.
But, despite the opportunities for foreign OP companies in Latin America, information enabling them to make fact-based decisions on entering the market has been limited.
It was with this in mind that Thomas Schinkel – of TSA Associates and a premier consultant to the international OP industry – published The Western Hemisphere Report, Office Products Industry – Focus: Latin America.
The new 62-page report, available through SHOPA, identifies market drivers; compares OP market sizes to that of the US; estimates annual spend on office products in different countries; provides estimates of growth projections; and identifies and explores channel of distribution dynamics of the different regions.
In short, it identifies areas and rationale for manufacturers and resellers to adapt their North American, Asian and European business models to the unique circumstances of Latin America.
Market size and growth rates are included on a number of different poduct categories. These include commercial envelopes; books and pads; cut office paper; writing instruments; filing supplies; office and desk accessories; and presentation and planning products.
SHOPA identifies the following as key highlights within the market:
• A number of Latin American countries show a growth rate in their demand for office products that exceeds the US growth rate in the same or similar categories. The report identifies above average growth rates through 2010 for specific countries in the region.
• Interestingly, the Brazilian market for office products at manufacturer’s selling price is projected to be 20-30 percent larger than the market for the same products in Mexico.
• In end-user prices, the Brazilian market for office products is estimated to be worth $2.7 billion.
• The traditional system of wholesalers working together with large numbers of "very small" papelerias is still very much in vogue in many countries of Latin America. Papelerias are small kiosks selling paper, soda, chewing gum, and an assortment of office supplies, including writing instruments and filing supplies. An estimated 25,000 papelerias can be found in Brazil alone.
• Mass merchandisers such as Price Costco, Sam’s Club, and MAKRO have a growing presence in several Latin American countries, but their assortment in office supplies is surprisingly limited. US big boxes Staples, Office Depot and OfficeMax have a growing presence in several of the Latin American markets.
When comparing compounded growth rates for exports to and imports from Latin America in a number of different product categories, to trade figures to and from other countries, Latin America scores favourably from a US-based manufacturer’s perspective.