Although Brazil’s granite exports to the U.S. saw a decline for the second half of 2007, the Vitória Stone Fair still saw steady traffic on the show floor for the most recent edition, which took place from February 19 to 22, 2008, at the Carapina Expo Center in Serra - just on the outskirts of Vitória and where many major stoneworking plants are present. The 2008 Vitória Stone Fair had a record number of exhibitors, as the total of over 400 was a 15% increase over 2007. Moreover, attendees at the event were able to see a broad range of materials - many of which are being targeted specifically at the U.S. market.
According to event organizer Milanez & Milaneze, attendance at the 2008 Vitória Stone Fair totaled 33,374, which was comparable to 2007’s record total of 35,797.
This attendance total included over 2,400 foreign visitors from more than 60 nations around the world - also a record. In addition to Americans, the event was attended by professionals from Eastern Europe, Latin America, Asia and the Persian Gulf.
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, as well as 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 countries.
Besides the exotic and classic stones, new technology also gained the attention of entrepreneurs - including large-scale machinery from Italy.
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.
Speaking on the U.S. marketAs usual, the Vitória Stone Fair included a range of professional seminars and reports for show attendees. One timely conference addressed the current state of the industry - in Brazil and abroad. This session included a panel that represented three trade associations: Sergio Azeredo, President of Abirochas; Alessandro Teixeira, President of Apex-Brazil; and Áureo Mameri of Sindirochas.
First and foremost, the panelists reiterated that despite a slowdown of stone exports to the U.S., it is still the most important target for Brazilian stone suppliers. With this in mind, the panel reported that the astute Brazilian stone suppliers will not lose too much focus on the U.S. market while pursuing exports to other regions - such as Eastern Europe or the Middle East. “It’s not just a matter of adding other markets. If you abandon one market or run and hide during a crisis, maybe your place won’t be there when you decide to come back,” Teixeira said. “On a national level, it is important for companies to remain aggressive in their promotion, so as not to lose our market share.”
The panelists added that while the U.S. marketplace has seen a decline - although not a major decline, according to export statistics - some regions remain stable. Areas of the U.S. that were cited as “steady” included the Northeast, the South (particularly Texas) and the Northwest. However, California and Florida were universally reported to be difficult markets at this time.
In other sessions, a range of speakers addressed industry topics at the 2008 Vitória Stone Fair. Among these speakers was American industry member Kevin Padden - who has spoken at Coverings and StonExpo as well as Stone World Workshops and MIA seminars.
In addition to being organized by Milanez & Milaneze, the Vitória Stone Fair is promoted by the Cetemag and Sindirochas trade organizations, and it is supported by various entities of the Brazilian stone sector.
Vitória Stone Fair 2009 is set for February 10 to 13, 2009, again at the Carapina Expo Center in Serra, Espírito Santo.