TIF-Helexpo is both an organizer of exhibitions and other events, as well as a consultant to the Greek government regarding exhibitions at the local and international level. The company aims to help Greek businesses with expanding abroad and further internationalization. To that end, TIF-Helexpo will implement a programme by being present at and participating in major international fruit and vegetable exhibitions, supporting Greek businesses.
According to Nikolaidou, trade fairs like Freskon are important to carve new paths for growers and exporters. “Trade fairs were introduced to the Greek market by TIF-Helexpo, which turned them into a top exhibition product, with wide appeal throughout South East Europe. As expansion abroad is currently the only option for growth, promotion through exhibitions is one of the most effective ways to make contacts, create channels of communication, and open new markets.”
The export value of fruit and vegetables represents 32% of all agricultural exports in Greece, making this sector the main pillar of the Greek economy. For this reason, Freskon is being supported by all relevant bodies and Ministries of the Greek government.
“The main challenge for setting up an event like Freskon is international recognition. We need to connect to the needs of vendors and purchasers. It is crucial to be able to bring production, processing and commerce under one roof, as this achieves most of the goals of all the parties involved and gives rise to new partnerships and agreements. As for Freskon, the greatest challenge is to boost the export of established fresh Greek fruit and vegetables to the world market.”
“Greek agro food production has seen some major innovations,” explains Nikolaidou. “We’ve managed to replace produce sold in bulk with standardised branded products. We’ve also obtained quality certification for fresh fruit and vegetables by applying strict standards with regard to best farming practices, health and safety. We’re also using a full tracking system from seed and field to packaging plant, store shelf and fridge.”
There is a constantly growing demand for organic fruit and vegetables from consumers. Such trends are also seen at exhibition events like Freskon. The most important types of produce for export are currently peaches, apricots, kiwis, oranges, table grapes, cherries and asparagus.
The edition of Freskon in 2017 was attended by representatives from 19 local and international supermarket chains. Purchasers of international chains were present at the “FreshCon Market”, which was a special Freskon event. Freshcon Market was aimed at bringing these purchasers in direct contact with agricultural sector professionals, creating the right conditions for direct deals. Participants in that framework included Tesco, Metro, Carrefour, as well as supermarket chains from Bulgaria, Ukraine, Romania, Serbia and Greece.
International retail and markets in Central Europe are important focal points for TIF-Helexpo. “We believe that there is a lot of room for market penetration for Greek fruit and vegetables in these markets. The fact that there were visitors present from over 35 countries at the last edition of Freskon proves this.”
Freskon is meant to be a meeting point for producers, international retail groups and domestic and international fresh fruit and vegetable transporters. The exhibition is also host to international exhibitors who are active in the sector, and who represent the latest in fresh fruit, vegetables, logistics, packaging machinery and materials.
Nikolaidou has seen significant changes in the past five years of organizing exhibitions. “We develop new ideas and services in the digital world. Nonetheless, trade exhibitions remain important as a place for communication. Personal contact and face-to-face meetings are very interesting factors, and trade exhibitions are important meeting points.
However, it is not enough to merely rent a space; you have to provide further services, such as achieving, through the exhibitions, successful business and trade partnerships, communication and networking, both virtual and physical. We need to provide easier and faster management of potential clients by providing smart services that allow them to participate in an exhibition.”
“Our goal and ambition is to turn FRESKON into a regional exhibition hub for the fruit and vegetable sector, which will address Greece and the Balkans, as well as the whole of SE Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean, attracting the interest of NE African regions.”
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