Despite Brazil’s fluctuating currency and political upheaval, tile manufacturers have continued their forward march in the battle for market share. Several factors have made this possible, including increased product quality, modernized production methods and a dedicated organization known as Anfacer—the Brazilian Association of Ceramic Tile Manufacturers.
Capacity utilization remained at 88.1%; however, the product mix expanded with new applications, and the quality of the product also showed marked improvement. In 1998, 24 of Anfacer’s 41 member companies were regularly audited and certified for conformity to NBR 13.818 and ISO 13.006, two of Brazil’s main quality standards.
According to Anfacer, Brazil is the largest market in the Western Hemisphere for ceramic tiles. Brazilians purchased 358.7 million square meters (3.9 billion square feet) of domestically produced tile in 1998, as well as 3 million square meters (32 million square feet) of imported tile.
Exports also grew, jumping 6.2% over the previous year to 34.6 million square meters (372 million square feet). Mercosul, North America and Latin America were the largest export markets, at 33.5%, 32.1% and 19.9%, respectively.
In an effort to improve customer satisfaction, most of Anfacer’s member companies have expanded their customer service departments over the last several years to provide answers to technical questions, as well as to provide support during the development stages of architectural projects to ensure correct installation.
Anfacer also produced two specialized trade publications—“Cerâmica Informação,” directed toward promoting technological growth in the industry, and “Cerâmica Técnica e Arte,” directed toward architects, engineers and builders to try to further expand the use of ceramic tiles.
Additionally, Anfacer has been active in promoting exports among its producers by supporting their participation at tradeshows. As a result, the number of Brazilian participants at Coverings ’98 has been steadily increasing. In 1997, 10 Brazilian producers participated; 1998 saw 15 companies exhibit, and in 1999, 17 companies participated.
Anfacer aims to continue shifting Brazil’s position in the market in the hopes that Brazil will become the third largest ceramic tile producer worldwide by 2002. To reach this goal, the association will continue promoting Brazilian products at tradeshows and in world markets, particularly in Brazil and the U.S., and will also continue pushing its members to increase the quality levels of their products.