As the world’s leading exporter of granite to the U.S., Brazil has been greatly affected by the economic struggles of the past few years. As American demand for granite declined, the Brazilian stone industry was among those hit hardest by the recession. However, if the 2010 edition of the Vitória Stone Fair is a barometer of the Brazilian stone industry as a whole, it appears that better times are ahead for the nation’s stone sector.
The event, which took place from February 23 to 26 at the Carapina Expo Center in Vitória, saw increases in the number of exhibitors as well as attendees and international visitors. For several years now, the Vitória Stone Fair has attracted the international stone industry to not only attend the trade show, but also to visit with the many stone-producing firms in the Vitória area and across the granite-rich state of Espírito Santo.
Also of note, new show hours were designated for the fair this year. The exhibition hall was open from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. each day, rather than the usual morning-to-evening shift. This gave attendees the opportunity to visit with stoneworking firms prior to the opening of the show.
Attendance at the 2010 Vitória Stone Fair totaled 24,124, which is an increase over last year’s total. Of these attendees, a total of 2,214 visitors came from abroad - also an increase over 2010. Among foreign visitors, 44.6% came from North America (30% from the U.S., 6.8% from Canada and 5.2% from Mexico). A total of 9% of foreign visitors came from Italy, and 5.4% came from Spain.
Perhaps more important than the attendance figures, the people who traveled to the Vitória Stone Fair clearly did so to do business. A number of prominent U.S. importer/distributors were present in the exhibition halls, and purchases of containers were made directly on the show floor.
In general, it appears that many major Brazilian suppliers are seeing an uptick in business, and there was a positive feeling for the duration of the Vitória Stone Fair. “We are doing better,” said Heliene Zucchi of Zucchi Granite. “We had some very good pre-visits [before the show]. We feel people are more interested in new materials.”