Minimal joy for meat traders during Rio Olympic Games

By Kakie Roubaud

- Last updated on GMT

Brazilian butchers are disappointed not to have profited from the Olympic Games
Brazilian butchers are disappointed not to have profited from the Olympic Games

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Meat retailers in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, have expressed disappointment that the Olympic and Paralympic Games in August had a weak impact on sales, although a selected band of suppliers did benefit.

There were indeed many visitors: the city government of Rio announced 1.17 million tourists visited Rio during the games, 410,000 of them were foreigners, with big meat consumers the USA, Argentina and Germany sending more than any other country. Overall they spent at least $130 per day, said the city. But Rio retailers speaking to GlobalMeatNews​ said they had not benefited.

Valdecir dos Santos, a traditional butcher on the main Copacabana street market, said games-time business was better in poorer areas such as Jacarepaguá, as consumers fired up celebratory barbecues, than in Zona Sul, the upper-class district: “The poor are more greedy!​” he joked.

Nearby. at the Mundial supermarket, one of 19 of this popular chain in Rio, the butcher said even the Official Sponsorship Rio2016 logo mark on Sadia’s frozen chicken had not boosted sales, with Brazil’s ongoing recession making consumers focus on the bottom line: “Two years ago, people were buying according to the brand. Now, they buy the cheapest option,​” he explained.

Brazil is ‘broke’

In Flamengo, another upper-class district, the owner of the local Meat and Fish Market said: “We’ve sold 20% less than last year. Most of our clients are local state government officers and they have not been paid because the State of Rio de Janeiro – not the city, the state – is broke.​”

Indeed, Brazil’s political instability​ has made consumers less likely to spend money on meat, and the games did not boost consumer confidence: “President Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment had a stronger impact on consumption than the Games,​” she told GlobalMeatNews​.

There were winners, however. A skewered kebab distributor named Espetaria, based in Cachambi, a northern suburb of Rio de Janeiro, was one. Owner André Paraiso Freitag said Olympic visitors caused his business to sell two tonnes of skewers during the 16 days of the main summer Olympic Games, 30% more than the same period last year. His firm specialises in ready-made frozen meat skewers for barbecues with chicken, hearts, tenderloin, kofta, rump, and more – drawn from 30 kinds of meat.

Most were sold to restaurants and food trucks working around the Olympics and Paralympics arenas in Barra and Maracanã, selling grilled skewers near stadiums and beaches popular with Games visitors.

Official Games food suppliers​ Food Team and Dica do Chef also did well. A note from Dica do Chef said 100,000 Olympic visitors ate their double cheeseburgers, hot dogs, chicken or sausage sandwiches or an ‘Escondidinho de carne’, traditional Brazilian mashed potato with pigmeat. Dica do Chef is owned by the DCC Foods group, which owns three manufacturing plants in São Paulo.

That said, there was criticism at the start of the summer games that food was in short supply: in the four Olympic Games areas – Barra, Deodoro, Copacabana and Maracana – there were long queues for sandwiches. Organiser Comitê Rio 2016 had to call in 25 food trucks to boost catering capacity.

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