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Thomas Derstadt, Import Promotion Desk:

"We guarantee good products for specialized importers"

The Import Promotion Desk (IPD) supports importers in establishing contacts with suitable exporters and producers from overseas, focusing on the various differing criteria in order to make the products competitive in Europe.

"Our mandate is to make exporters from developing and emerging countries fit for the market and, above all, to connect them with local importers," says IPD specialist Thomas Derstadt. "Our work is characterized by working strongly with export promotion and grower associations on the ground. We offer various trainings and prepare companies for the market, especially in terms of communication."

Thomas Derstadt. Photo: IPD

Quality standards and fruit range
IPD offers importers neutral and free support in procurement. It arranges contacts with selected producers of fresh fruit and vegetables that meet GLOBAL G.A.P. standards or even the requirements of the EU organic logo. These free referral services are available to all European importers.

Importers can be assured that they will be matched with reliable producers, as companies participating in the IPD program are visited and carefully screened. IPD experts consider not only certification, but also criteria such as product quality, export potential and capacity.

Derstadt: "Adhering to social standards in cultivation is just as important to us as maintaining sensible ecological working practices. Brix values are also queried regularly, of course."

Photo: IPD

The popular fruit range includes mangoes, avocados and passion fruit. Spanish importers, for example, so far mainly requested avocados, strawberries, citrus fruits and grapes, as well as ginger and turmeric. But companies in the IPD program are also producing lesser-known fruits such as pitahayas, mangosteens and granadillas. "In addition, we also want to be able to guarantee good products for specialized importers and wholesalers who supply retailers, for example."

Good networking
The Corona pandemic naturally also influenced IPD's activities. For example, there were various trade show cancellations, which required a shift to virtual environments. "We were able to quickly adapt and offer a virtual program for those interested. Of course, many importers are happy that communication is still guaranteed as a result," Derstadt says.

Looking at the IPD's other strong suits, Derstadt recounts good local networking and informational resources on country-specific market information. "Targeted matchmaking for companies at the trade fairs is important because it achieves both market requirements, a high level of quality and stability in communication and cooperation."

Long-lasting, important processes
Furthermore, Derstadt points out that heterogeneous conditions are found in the various IPD partner countries, making it necessary to adapt to every respective circumstance. Derstadt: "Whether organic goods can be offered or not, can only be clarified after intensive discussions with the producers and farms on site. It is, of course, a process that takes a lot of time and effort, but it ultimately offers satisfactory results for both sides."

During the pandemic, there were initially many unanswered questions in the South American exporting countries, such as how things were going in terms of work in the fields, housing and food for local people. "Over time, these problems have largely been resolved. In the meantime, production is stable again in most countries."

Photo: IPD

Importance of trade shows
"Trade shows are essential to our work. As we want to match companies with each other, these events are an absolute must," Derstadt says regarding IPD's participation in this year's Fruit Attraction. "The Fruit Attraction trade show has grown in importance over time, especially for Latin American countries."

Supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), IPD's exhibits at the trade show this year included fresh fruit from Ecuador, Colombia and Peru.

For more information:
Thomas Derstadt
Import Promotion Desk
c/o sequa gGmbH
Alexanderstraße 10
53111 Bonn
Tel.: +49 (0)228 909 0081 0

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