Automating the footwear supply chain has been highlighted as one of the biggest opportunities for Brazilian footwear companies to reduce costs and increase their international competitiveness.

A working party supported by the Brazilian Association of Footwear Industries and the Brazilian automation industry has found that a number of suppliers - including Grendene, Azalia and Beira Rio - are already using barcodes and EDI to exchange information electronically.

The sector's management skills and production capacity are ready to support this latest push. They have helped boost production and exports this year, and total revenues in 2001 are expected to be 15-20 per cent more than last year's US$1.5 billion.