Brazil is synonymous with football. Pele, the majestic Maracana, that goal by John Barnes and, of course, the World Cup, which is heading to the spiritual home of the beautiful game this summer for the first time since 1950. It’s fantastic news for the South American country, especially if they win it (and, at an ungenerous 11/4, the bookies think they will) because the so-called Brazilian Miracle has hit the buffers (see feature, p46).

Five thousand miles away, UK retailers and suppliers are hoping for their very own Brazilian miracle. New product launches and promotional activity has already begun as they work themselves up to fever pitch before the golden four weeks kick off on 12 June, leading up to the final on 13 July.

Even an early exit for England won’t dampen sales. When the team capitulated to Germany in 2010, sales of beer were still up 13.2% on the previous year. Official World Cup sponsor Budweiser “enjoyed its share” of this growth, says UK marketing manager Jennifer Anton, and it’s gunning for more. I, it’s The World Cup is The only beer allowed to carry the official branding, Budweiser is launching 11 million branded packs, made up of a mix of SKUs, including World Cup branded gold aluminium cans and an 18 can multipack with a nifty new handle to make it easy to carry with one hand. “We call it the suitcase pack,” laughs Anton.

Budweiser is also working with retailers to maximise sales by aligning cans next to chilled food. “We want beer next to ready meals. Beer gets a massive uplift when watching football. We need to play to that, especially in the chilled areas. People are going to be leaving work early and running home and using the mults like a c-store, so we need to make sure it’s cold and next to the pizza,” says Anton.

But you don’t have to be an official sponsor to cash in on World Cup fever, says David Forde, MD Heineken UK. “Having the right to the logo does not give you the right to the story,” he insists.

“We will be visible and available on the promo space and on the gondola ends. A lot of beer and cider will be consumed at home during the games and I want more than my fair share. The World Cup is an important opportunity and for your own dignity you want to be punching hard.”

And it’s not just an opportunity for brewery behemoths. World Beers has teamed up with Brazilian craft brewery, Cervejaria Amazonia, which brews beers made with exotic fruits hand-picked from the banks of the Amazon and surrounding rainforest. It’s released ‘Forest Pilsen’ and ‘Forest Bacuri’ in the UK .

Also on the booze side, Taittinger has released a special limited edition World Cup souvenir bottle to celebrate being ‘chosen’ by FIFA as the official Champagne to be served to guests in its VIP areas, an “immense honour” according to export director Clovis Taittinger.

Soft drinks

On the soft drinks front, many suppliers have introduced ‘Brazilian’-flavoured beverages (either as limited edition drinks, or simply to reflect consumer trends towards exotic fruit), but all eyes will be on Coca-Cola, an official World Cup sponsor since 1978.

“It’s a proud and long partnership and we see good sales uplifts - up to 6.2%,” says VP for sales and marketing at CCE, Nick Canney. “These are really important campaigns and it’s a critical time. The buzz begins around two years before kick-off. We don’t even know which home nations have qualified when we start.”

In 2014, Coca-Cola is planning to “inspire people to move more, so we are giving away a million footballs in the run up to 12 June,” says Canney. “And with every entry we are going to give 10p for grass roots sport programmes. It’s fun and it promotes healthy living. And ultimately it gets consumption where we need it to be.”

“The key is to make it easy for shoppers to replenish quickly”

Philippe Rondepierre, Spar UK

From a commercial perspective Canney says it also doesn’t really matter if England crash out after the qualifying rounds because the “main time of the tournament is the qualifying stage, which runs for two weeks”.

The negligible time differential between the UK and Brazil also means more socialising with friends. Coke research suggests 80% of consumers plan to gather together and watch games at home. “Which is enormous,” says Canney. “The most important thing is the kick off times. It’s just great not to be in the middle of the night, frankly.”

Like Coke, poultry giant Moy Park is also an official sponsor of the tournament, courtesy of Brazilian parent company Marfrig’s deal for the 2010 and 2014 World Cups. This gives Moy Park “exposure on an unprecedented scale,” says director of brand marketing Andrew Nethercott. “We will sit alongside global brands and it comes at a time when we are looking at expanding into new markets”.

As well as running competitions, Moy Park has launched four football inspired chicken products which are “breaded, so perfect for snacking during the game” and partnered with “some of our customers to run joint promotions” on own label chicken products. “We’ve learned how to really maximise the sponsorship this time round,” adds Nethercott.

Football fans will have plenty of other food options to snack on during the tournament. Mars is spending £4m and giving away half a million replica shirts courtesy of its sponsorship of the England team.

The pizza category is also gearing up for a big one. Dr Oetker says the event is “win-win” and has launched a BBQ Sizzler World Cup pizza. “We know the World Cup can help drive incremental sales in the pizza category of at least £3m and we have seen an increase in premium frozen pizza sales of over 50%.”

The Brazilian restaurant brands pulling in the punters


Cabana: An award-winning BBQ restaurant with five sites across London. It plans to open a further branch in London and its first outside the capital in Leeds this year. In addition to BBQ it also serves up street food, cassava chips and cocktails. Co-founder David Ponte (of Sake no Hana and Momo fame) says “we have long predicted Brazilian cuisine’s ‘moment’ in the UK food scene. The World Cup can only help to focus all eyes on Brazil and Cabana will provide an exciting experience of all that is Brazil in the UK.”

Rodizio Rico: A traditional Brazilian Churrascaria, with restaurants in the O2, Fulham, Islington, Notting Hill and Birmingham. The company has grown organically since its launch in 1997. The Fulham branch is the first Lebanese Churrascaria outside Sao Paulo. Owner Mike Nayla says “the World Cup will have a massive impact on all things Brazilian - far surpassing cuisine and drinks. It will (hopefully) mean an influx of people dining Brazil style”.

Las Iguanas: A chain of 34 ‘casual dining’ restaurants and bars across the UK serving up South American food with the emphasis on fresh. The company was founded in the UK in 1991 and is planning a further eight openings this year. Lucy Harwood, head of brand at Las Iguanas says “guests have become more adventurous and willing to experiment with Brazilian food over the past few years and for the World Cup year we will be very much focusing on Brazilian food and drink”.

A pizza the action

Fierce rival Goodfella’s is also going for a hefty slice, re-launching the Goodfella’s Takeaway range and launching the “Nacho Fella with the World Cup audience in mind, as it combines pizza and nachos as well as spicy sausage and jalapenos. It’s our latest sociable and shareable food.”

On the ambient meat snacking side, Mattessons has added a Brazilian Chargrilled flavour to its Fridge Raiders range. Even Pot Noodle has been given a Brazilian makeover, courtesy of a £2m investment by Unilever. “Brazilian food means two things to our Pot Noodle lads - steak and BBQ,” says marketing manager Monique Rossi. And the Peperami ‘Fanimal’ will return, with Unilever hoping the 175% uplifts it saw when it can be replicated.

All these snacks are just for starters, however. At least that’s how retailers are viewing the World Cup, w”Brazilian-style BBQ meats will be hugely popular,” says a Waitrose spokesman. Sainsbury’s has also “tried hard to be creative” and is praying the weather is good so “BBQs will come out”.

“It’s big. It’s massive. The World Cup is one of our biggest activations”

Jennifer Anton, Budweiser UK

Asda’s own label summer range is full of Brazilian inspired food including Brazilian steak pizza, sizzle steaks and lime & chilli chicken. It’s also releasing ‘Brazilian bikinis and England onesies’.

And Tesco, which launched a 50-strong range of Brazilian brands in 2012 and watched them grow 40% this year believes interest will rocket by as much as 100% as the World Cup progresses. “We have trebled the number of stores carrying the range,” says Tesco’s Brazil buyer Bogdan Baldovin.

Ocado are “buying in a range of Brazilian products to meet demand for customers looking to experience a taste of Brazil from the comfort of home, launching Ocado own label meat products and reassessing our range of spirits,” adds Ocado brand development buying manager .

Calpirinha, the national cocktail of Brazil - already popular in bars across the UK -may also be a feature of many parties over the summer. But, there is also a burgeoning interest in Brazilian wines. M&S and Waitrose have stocked limited brands for a while, but M&S is stocking four new Brazilian wines, while Tesco and Waitrose are looking to launch special Brazilian wine blends.

How will Brazilian brands fare over here?

There are now more than 40 specialist Brazilian shops in the UK (up from just three 10 years ago) carrying up to 1,000 Brazilian lines, including palm hearts, farofa, jilo (bitter green vegetable) and mate tea, as well as leading brands like Skol and Brahma (beer), Guaraná Antarctica (soft drink, pictured above), Yoki and Hikari (dried products), 51 (cachaça), Maguary (concentrated juices), Garoto (chocolate), Pilao (coffee) and Predilecta (canned fruit pastes), while some butchers offer specialist meat cuts like Picanha and Alcatra.

They’re not just serving the UK’s growing population of Brazilians - estimated at around 200,000 and centered in Bayswater (Brazilwater), Lambeth, Vauxhall (little Portugal) and Willesden (with smaller pockets in Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester).

According to Itamara Dall ’Alba Regis, director of Casa Brasil - the oldest established Brazilian specialist shop in the UK, up to 30% of customers are now non-Latin American.

One of the common issues in importing brands and products from Brazil is price, “The cost can vary rapidly month on month,” says Gabriel Ache Gaya, general manager at Gaya foods, the biggest distributor of Brazilian products in the UK. Gaya is now producing an own label range of Brazilian staples such as Cassava flour and Acai sorbet to help offset this.

So how will the World Cup impact these retailers? And what about suppliers and brands? According to a Mintel 2014 report on consumer trends “the World Cup is going to make us fall in love with all things Brazilian”.

Smaller specialist retailers and suppliers certainly expect to cash in, according to Regis “thanks to visitors to Brazil during the World Cup seeking out specialist ingredients to make authentic dishes like feojoada tasted on their travels.”

And while Brazilian brands are little known outside specialist outlets that too is changing, with Tesco stocking Guarana Antarctica and Brahma amongst its successful Brazilian range launched in 2012 (see opposite).

However, much to the annoyance of Brazilians, AB InBev won’t be promoting its Brahma brand due to its official sponsorship of the World Cup through Budweiser.

Discounters look to score

It’s not just the major multiples going for it, however. Aldi plans to offer “a whole range of products including t-shirts, football themed hot dogs, pizzas and TVs” while rival Lidl will also be stocking an “officially licensed range of products using the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil marks”.

German MD Ronny Gottschlich, a self-confessed Anglophile, admits to having “mixed feelings” about who to support, but is diplomatically hoping for a “Germany vs England” final.

And in convenience, Spar UK head of marketing Philippe Rondepierre says his retailers are “well equipped to capitalise on the rush home to watch games, when shoppers want to grab snacks, evening meals and drinks for games kicking off at 5pm, or to nip out and replenish before the 9pm and 11pm games.”

Rondepierre says he has already started briefing his retailers on the importance of letting customers know that “convenience is there to provide them with their essentials when they need them. They need to know stores will have what they need so Spar will create excitement around the key games, as well as reminding shoppers of the times they take place”.

The retailer is also planning a rash of “link deals between beer and pizzas, or other ready meals. The key is to make it easy for shoppers to replenish quickly”.

Previous tournaments have generated “uplift in footfall and sales” says Euro Garages commercial director Ilyas Munshi, but he is even more excited this time because “more so than in previous World Cups, customers’ habits are leaning towards convenience”.

So although the action on the pitch might be taking place 5,000 miles away, the competition taking place amongst suppliers and retailers back home looks like being equally fierce. Let’s hope there’s more than one winner.