Home to some of the world's fastest-
growing markets for premium
international brands, South America's
Heineken® distributors have developed
and adopted ingenious and innovative
ways of traversing the continent's
vast tropical rainforests, deserts and
World of Heineken 40 - summer 2009
Brazil is a country of superlatives. It has
a population of almost 200 million and
an area of more than 8.5 million square
kilometres. Then again, there are strong
contrasts between mega-cities such as
Sao Paulo and remote jungle outposts.
These factors characterise the diversity
faced by Heineken's distribution network
in Brazil. The company must effectively
serve a country that covers half of the
South American continent.
products, consumption of international
premium beers is growing very fast, with
Heineken® clearly leading this growth," says
Rodrigo. "Indeed, while Heineken® has been
actively sold in the Brazilian market since the
early 1980s, the developments over the last
few years are justifiable cause for optimism.
Year-on-year growth has been in double
digits since 2006 and we have never before
sold as much beer as we did in 2008."
has proved to be one of our main strategic
pillars in Brazil."
In the Amazon basin, for example, beer can
only be transported by truck up to a certain
point, after which it must be transferred
to boats of various sizes, depending on the
depth of the rivers and tributaries they have
to negotiate. By contrast, in the congested
streets of Sao Paolo, motorcycles are used to
service many points of sale.
Brazil's beer market is huge - the fourth
largest by volume and the second-largest
profit pool in the world, says Heineken
Country Manager Rodrigo Motta, where
Heineken has a 17 per cent share in Femsa
Brazil, part of the large South American
beverages company, Femsa. Traditionally,
Brazilians tended to drink mostly mainstream
local beers, as well as a local sugarcane-
based beverage called cachaga. However,
premium products such as international beer
brands, wine and whisky are now enjoying
growth due to the improving local economy.
"While Brazil's market of 110 million
hectolitres still mostly covers mainstream
Rodrigo says that keeping pace with
supplying more than a million points of sale
presents formidable logistical challenges.
These have mostly been met by working with
the existing supply infrastructure developed
by soft drinks maker Coca-Cola.
Rodrigo is proud of Heineken's ability to reach
every point of sale with the right profile,
whether in the Amazon, the Pantanal (the
world's most extensive wetland), the Cerrado
savannah, or huge cities like Sao Paulo, which
has a population bigger than the Netherlands.
"We reach all our outlets using vans, trucks,
and even motorcycles and boats, depending
on the circumstances. Making good use of the
strength of the Coca-Cola distribution system
"Our initial base of Heineken® sales was small,
but between 2006 and 2009 we quadrupled
our volume, which is now 225,000
hectolitres," says Rodrigo. "About 90 per
cent of this is brewed locally under licence by
Femsa. Beer in draught kegs and aluminium
bottles - which are proving very successful
- is imported from the Netherlands. Looking
to the future, it is our ambition to tap into
this market growth, and continue to lead the