A group of Ukrainian SMEs from the berry sector took part in the Salon International de l’Agroalimentaire (SIAL), an international food exhibition in Paris, from 21-25 October 2018. The visit was organised as part of the EU-funded project, ‘Eastern Partnership: Ready to Trade – an EU4Business initiative’, implemented by the International Trade Centre (ITC). The selected beneficiaries also had the opportunity to take part in a study tour, including visits to French berry farms, the Rungis wholesale food market and a food processing plant.
SIAL Paris is the largest food innovation exhibition in the world spanning an area of 250,000 square metres. SIAL Paris 2018 attracted 7,200 participants from 119 countries and 160,000 visitors dedicated to the agro-food industry, covering the retail, processing and food service sub-sectors.
The selected beneficiaries of the project represented producers of fresh and frozen berries, semi-processed confectionary, natural jams and sweets, frozen fruits, vegetables and mushrooms. Even though the trade fair was a first-time experience for many of the beneficiaries, they were able to connect with more than 250 contacts for potential future cooperation.
As part of the study tour, beneficiaries visited the Rungis wholesale market, one of the world’s largest fresh produce wholesale markets, giving them an opportunity to learn about the variety of fresh food and to gain knowledge on market performance, as well as quality and quantity requirements.
The visit to the wholesale market was followed by a visit to food retail supermarkets, where participants could overview the varieties of berries, packing and shelf display.
They also visited French berry farms, including Cueillette de Cergy, situated in Puiseux-Pontoise, 30km northeast of Paris, where they observed the infrastructure, technical capacities and production process for different fruits, including strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blackcurrants, plums and apples. The farm follows the business model (unheard of so far in the Ukrainian market), where private customers can harvest products by themselves, directly from the field.
On the same day, beneficiaries visited another farm, Les Deux Ormes, situated in Neron, 70km southwest of Paris. The co-owner of the family-owned enterprise, Guillaume Marie gave a guided tour around the farm, which spans 730 hectares and employs four full-time staff and an additional 30 employees during the harvesting season. The farm also features a specific and unique production system with a high level of automation and mechanization at all stages of the production process.
The group also visited Agrana Fruit France, a processing plant outside Paris, and one of the leading fruit processors for dairy products and desserts in the world. The participants were guided through production, storage and other technological stages and were able to observe the full processing cycle. The unique visit also gave the participants an opportunity to observe the HACCP system operating at the plant.
The Eastern Partnership: Ready to Trade project helps small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to access new markets with a focus on the EU, helping SMEs identify and comply with quality and standards to meet international requirements, linking them with buyers along the value chain, and providing cluster support.