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Harvesting Brazil's Beauty

The weighing room at Belém’s Ver-o-Peso (“see the weight”) open air market.

By: Jeff Falk
Posted: December 3, 2008, from the December 2008 issue of GCI Magazine.

Three hours spent in Santa Luzia de Tomé-Açu, a community of approximately 22 families in Brazil’s northern state of Pará, and it’s painfully clear how difficult it’s going to be to deliver a neat little package labeled “the Brazilian market.” Brazil, as exemplified in this small community and painted clearly on the faces of its citizens, is a nation of immense diversity. However, there does seem to be a unifying factor. If one pays attention to the underlying currents of life in Brazil, those on which this story will rely—a discernible connection to the soil and its yields can be found. The connection is as clear as it is unspoken, and evidenced in Belém’s Ver-o-Peso (“see the weight”) open air market, while visiting farms in the Amazon forest, in the comments of young São Paulo urbanites, and in the production practices of beauty marketers and suppliers. It’s also clear in simple statements that express both the ups and downs of the country. “There are very poor people [in Pará],” Daniel Sabará, chief executive, health and personal care division, Beraca Ingredients, said before a trip into the Amazon forest. “But no one goes hungry.” The land provides, and the people accept.

Therefore, it’s more than a collective interest—it’s part of life. For a visitor, one of the best expressions is found in the Ver-o-Peso market, where there seems to be no distinction between food, medicine and beauty products. It’s not either to be eaten or to be applied; it is what it is and does what it does. There’s also a clear recognition of the country’s treasures, even as some are being lost.

All this probably shouldn’t be that surprising once one fully grasps the enormity of both the country and its most famous and evident natural resource—the Amazon region—an area so vast it could hold all of Europe. And this giant’s beauty industry is leveraging its resources and coming to life.

Thanks to the Image Project, hosted by ABIHPEC (Brazilian Association of the Cosmetic, Toiletry & Fragrance Industry) in partnership with APEX-Brasil, GCI magazine had a first-hand look at the Brazilian beauty industry and market and the environmental and social projects undertaken by suppliers and marketers.

Brazil’s Beauty Business