The June edition of Expo Riva Schuh & Gardabags confirmed, once again, the international vocation of the event which, over the years, has opened up from Europe to the entire world. This was confirmed by delegations from overseas countries such as Argentina and Uruguay.
‘This is the first time I have personally visited the fair,’ says Alejandro Biasiolli, Càmara de la Industria del Calzado Uruguay (CICU), ‘and I was pleasantly impressed, starting with the number of exhibitors and their variety. I made contact with exhibitors from Spain, Portugal, India, China, Serbia and, of course, Italy, which may be of great interest for future business development’.
Horacio Moschetto, Cámara de la Industria del Calzado Argentina (CIC) – for the third time at Expo Riva Schuh – is of the same opinion: ‘What I appreciate most about this event is the variety on offer, with manufacturers from all over the world and international buyers. There is the East, but also Turkey and Europe, with countries with a long manufacturing tradition such as Italy, Spain and Portugal, as well as Eastern Europe. I discovered productions that I did not think existed in certain countries. I would say that today Expo Riva Schuh is the international fair where there is more heterogeneity in terms of product, quality and price. Which makes it possible, for example, to evaluate the same product/model with different offers in terms of quality, price and manufacturer country.”
Horacio Moschetto has chosen Expo Riva Schuh as an international showcase to expand Argentinean shoe exports to the European market. “Last year more than 130 million pairs were produced in Argentina, with a small export share. Yet Argentina is today a market with great potential, with around 1,500 companies employing over 70,000 people. We produce leather footwear of excellent quality and with a very favourable price/quality ratio, both for men and women, and in particular leather boots. We specialise in niche footwear such as riding boots and textile espadrilles, areas in which we are very competitive, because they are products that are part of our tradition.” Today, the main market for Argentine footwear is Mercosur and, inside it, Uruguay and Chile, to which Argentina exports duty-free. Outside Mercosur, the reference markets are the United States and, to a lesser extent, Europe, which has high added value, but still low volumes. “In order to increase exports,” Moschetto continues, “it is essential that our country is reliable in terms of compliance with international regulations, punctuality of delivery and quality of exported products, and the lack of long-term government plans in this regard is still a major limitation.”
Much smaller, on the other hand, is Uruguay’s footwear production, which Alejandro Biasiolli talks about: ‘In Uruguay there is a shoe production mostly aimed at the domestic market, while the export quota concerns mainly niche products, such as tango shoes. Production for the domestic market is mainly based on comfortable and casual leather shoes. Very important, however, is the import of footwear from the Orient – from China and Vietnam – but also from Spain, Portugal and to some extent Italy, all countries to which Uruguay has deep ties in terms of taste and culture. Many Uruguayans, in fact, are children of Spanish, Portuguese and Italian immigrants. In numerical terms, imports in 2022 grew a lot, reaching around 10 million pairs, of which around 70% came from China and the Orient in general. We then register 10% from Brazil and a mix from Argentina, Mexico and Europe, but in smaller quantities and at a higher price.”
‘Online shopping has also grown in Uruguay in recent years,’ Biasiolli continues, ‘although to a lesser extent than in other countries. The problem is that in Uruguay there is no standardisation of sizes. For example, we do not have the standards of the United States and this makes shopping on international platforms more difficult.”
Speaking, on the other hand, of a highly topical issue such as sustainability, Horacio Moschetto says that Argentina is working hard on this front: “Implementing sustainable development is today essential, at least in two respects. Because it is necessary to protect the planet we live on and to offer future generations a healthier and cleaner world. The second fundamental aspect is that investing in sustainable production is now an essential condition for any company that wants to compete on the global market, particularly in Europe and the United States. These are, in fact, the new rules of the game: you will have to prove that you are sustainable with traceable processes and products.”
“Argentina,” Moschetto continues, “is working on sustainable development with a national project involving both footwear manufacturers and raw material suppliers. But the situation is far from easy, especially because it is very complex to trace the entire supply chain and many raw materials are imported.”
For its part, Uruguay has only started actively addressing sustainability in recent years. ‘An issue that we did not give much importance to until recently,’ says Alejandro Biasiolli, ‘and which today, however, is becoming a priority and vital. In Uruguay, in particular, we have a serious water shortage problem, and in the last three years we have witnessed an increasing water deficit. The population is becoming increasingly aware that it is necessary to avoid waste, recycle, reuse, have a more conscientious consumption and respect the planet’s resources. The new generations are increasingly aware that there is not only the price factor, but there are also other aspects to consider when buying a product: quality, durability and sustainability, to name but a few’.