Jeremy Knops, COLEACP:
“We support the SMEs to meet the requirements of the market”

COLEACP is a non-profit association which supports sustainable and inclusive trade of fruit and vegetables between African, Caribbean and Pacific countries (ACP) and the European Union but also on local markets throughout ACP-countries. Jeremy Knops, Director of Operations: “During the years 2000, we witnessed quite a lot of changes in the EU-regulations with regard to the whole food safety package. COLEACP foresaw that those changes could potentially have a negative impact on trade of fruit and vegetables from ACP-countries. Together with the ACP-secretariat in Brussels, we set up a technical assistance programme to support producers and exporters to comply with EU-regulations and market standards.” 

“We are active in ACP-countries, mostly in Sub Saharan Africa. In Kenya for instance we have been working a lot on water and soil management for the avocado and fine vegetables value chains. In West-Africa we work constantly on the mango value chain, mainly on plant health issues with the fruit fly. Besides mango and avocado, our main products are litchi, pineapple and fine vegetables like beans, peas and chillies.”
“Our belief is that today ACP-countries need to have a complete and varied economic fabric in terms of horticultural industries. For the sake of African countries, these companies need to be maintained throughout the value chain to ensure that local operators are able to supply the local markets. During the last five years we have observed an evolution in terms of market targeting. The EU remains an important market, but local and regional markets and the Middle and far East are gaining importance too. Within the EU the most important export markets are the UK, France, the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany.”
“We evolved from really focusing on food safety to focusing on all market requirements. When we work with companies today, the first central point is to enforce their competitiveness. On the road we also focus on market compliance, but it goes well beyond. The main idea behind this is to have better functioning companies. When we work on environmental dimensions, we work on cost reductions. When we work on social compliance, we work on topics linked to HR management within a company and so on. The support, which is provided to all types of structures involved in the fruit and veg value chain, is provided through our network of local service providers. It’s mainly capacity building for human resources.” 

COLEACP was created in 1973. The members of the association are producers and exporters of fruits and vegetables from ACP-countries and EU-importers of fruits and vegetables.
For more information:
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Publication date: 2/28/2018
Author: Elselien Treure

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