Monday, April 9, 2012
During a lunch today at the White House, President Obama announced that in response to the tremendous increase in the number of Brazilians visiting the USA the United States planned to open two new consulates in Brazil - in the cities of Belo Horizonte and Porto Alegre. This news was greeted with joy in Brazil, as visa regulations for Brazilians wishing to visit the USA require a personal interview at a US Consulate. In a country as large as Brazil attending an interview can require a large commitment in time and money, with no guarantee of receiving a visa.
Up to the signing of this accord, the USA had required Brazilian cachaça to be labeled as "Brazilian rum." Although both rum and cachaça ultimately come from sugar cane, the two spirits are entirely different, cachaça being made from sugar cane juice and rum from molasses, and having to call their national spirit rum is something that has long irritated Brazilian cachaça exporters. Rum it is not - it's cachaça.
Although by far the largest percentage of the world's USD$1.1bn in annual cachaça sales occur domestically in Brazil, the cachaça export market is growing rapidly. Up to today, the largest market outside Brazil is Germany, but Brazilian cachaça distillers hope that these new regulations will help them capture a part of the American imported-spirits market. The caipirinha cocktail, made with cachaça, is already trendy and becoming more common in the USA. Now Brazilians hope that cachaça itself will catch on with American consumers.