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Although the International Marble and Granite Fair has only been taking place in the city of Vitória since 2002 (where it has been dubbed the “Vitória Stone Fair”), it is actually the 25th edition of the event, since a second stone fair has also taken place in the stoneworking center of Cachoeiro de Itapemirim since the mid-1990s, and continues to be held there annually today.
Since the second event was established in Vitória, however, it has truly become an international event, as Brazil’s standing in the world stone sector has continued to rise by leaps and bounds - particularly for the American market. The most recent edition took place from February 19 to 22 at the Carapina Expo Center in Serra - just on the outskirts of Vitória and where many major stoneworking plants are present.
For the past several years, Brazil has been the leading exporter of granite to the U.S. Last year, the U.S. brought in a projected total of just under $540 million worth of Brazilian granite, far more than any other nation. And with this in mind, Brazilian stone suppliers eagerly await U.S. importers at the Vitória Stone Fair, using the event as a platform to introduce new materials to the marketplace.
The state of Espírito Santo is responsible for almost 48% of Brazil’s stone production, and it represents 60% of block production.
Setting recordsAccording to Milanez & Milaneze, the organizer of the event, the 2008 Vitória Stone Fair had a record number of exhibitors, as the total of over 400 was a 15% increase over 2007. It also attracted over 2,400 foreign visitors from more than 60 nations around the world - also a record. Overall attendance at the 2008 Vitória Stone Fair totaled 33,374, which was comparable to 2007’s record total of 35,797.
Given the downturn in the American marketplace, this edition was a bit more diverse in its international attendance. Entrepreneurs from Eastern Europe, Latin America, Asia and the Persian Gulf carried a presence at the event.
Many of the exhibitors at the event were from the Espírito Santo State of Brazil, including firms from both the Cachoeiro de Itapemirim area and the Vitória area, which is home to a growing number of major international stoneworking plants as well as the port facilities. Additionally, Brazilian exhibitors came from the states of Bahia, Minas Gerais, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Pará, Paraná, Paraíba, Pernambuco, Ceará, Piauí, Roraima, Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina. There were also some stone exhibitors from nations such as Turkey, Egypt, Peru and other nations.
Although there is no estimate on how much business was done at the fair, Áureo Mameri of Sindirochas expects a 20% increase in Brazilian stone exports for 2008.
Besides the exotic and classic stones, new technologies also gained the attention of entrepreneurs - including large-scale machinery introductions from Italy.
“This edition was grand and beautiful, and it had more professional visitors,” said Cecilia Milanez of Milanez & Milaneze. “It is years of hard work that has made the Vitoria Stone Fair an event with dignity. It is among the leading events in the world - not only in numbers, but also in quality. We strive for excellence, and our commitment is to always offer the best.”
Another highlight of the fair was the launch of the official “Marble and Granite Route” by the State Secretary of Tourism (Setur), with a map that shows the distance and location of the main quarries in Espírito Santo. Once it is launched, the route will be shared among the main travel agents in Brazil and abroad - simplifying business travel for international visitors.
In addition to being organized by Milanez & Milaneze the International Marble and Granite Fair is promoted by the Cetemag and Sindirochas trade organizations, and it is supported by various entities of the Brazilian stone sector.
The next editions of the event are the Cachoeiro Stone Fair 2008, which will take place from August 26 to 29 in the city of Cachoeiro de Itapemirim, Espírito Santo, and the Vitória Stone Fair 2009, which is set for February 10 to 13, 2009, again at the Carapina Expo Center in Serra, Espírito Santo.
(Editor’s Note: A full review of the fair, including new stone introductions and conference summaries, will appear in the June 2008 edition of Stone World as part of our annual “Report from Brazil”.)