By learning how to diversify and add value to their product ranges, companies in four Central American countries that are participating in a new CBI agro-food programme could soon be expanding their markets to include 500 million potential customers in Europe.
An ambitious CBI programme that’s helping Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Honduras boost their food exports to Europe, is now up and running. In addition to CBI, partial funding for the programme is being provided by Swisscontact and El Salvador’sMinistry of Economic Affairs.
Value chain analysis
Exporting to Europe will make a huge difference to these countries, which now mainly export locally and to the US, says CBI Project Manager Femke de Jong. “They could expand their markets in Europe, where a CBI value chain analysis has identified a significant demand for products such as coffee, cocoa, tropical fruits and processed food.” This new agro-food programme, she continues, is showing companies how to diversify and add value to their product range by including niche products.
It will enable them to command higher prices and make them less dependent on their current markets and products. And because Europe is such a demanding market it will also enhance their professionalism as exporters.
During trainings earlier this year, exporting companies were divided into fresh food and vegetables and processed food sectors. “Focusing on separate sectors made it possible to tailor the content, we even gave special workshops for product groups such as honey and juice production,” says De Jong.
The workshops focus on Market Access Requirements to help participating companies do the groundwork for their eventual push into Europe. They were followed up by further trainings focusing on formulating an Export Marketing Plan.
According to De Jong, the programme is showing early potential. A Guatemalan producer, she explains, has already obtained an order for limes from a Dutch importer. “Some companies show more promise than others. It’s vital that exporters are well prepared to enter the market, but we want to bring importers in as soon as possible too.”
Femke de Jong sees this new CBI programme as a win-win situation. “I’m convinced it will make Central American entrepreneurs more effective exporters to Europe and make them an attractive proposition for European importers.”