A lot of interest from fruit and vegetable sector for Reshaping Trade in Fresh Foods conference

How do European retailers and traders maintain access to fruit and vegetables from up and coming countries?

Last week the Reshaping Trade in Fresh Foods conference took place, with its main question: how do European retailers and trader obtain and maintain access to the best and most sustainable fresh products from up and coming countries? Collaboration, communication and sharing knowledge within the value chain are irreplaceable in coming up with solutions. 

Retailers, trader and producers will face important challenges in coming years, which will influence the food and agricultural sector. Developments, among which food scarcity, increasing certification and product demands and shifting relationships in the international value chain will place pressure on the players. "We need to understand each other to go further and to optimise product certification demands. Blaming each other isn't the solution," according to producer Patricia Wachania, owner of HomeFresh Kenia.

During the Reshaping Trade in Fresh Foods conference it became clear how retailer, trader and producer view each other. Speakers Roland Waardenburg, The RockGroup, and Jan‐Willem Grievink, Conception bv, emphasise the shifting relationships in the chain in which the supplier is increasingly powerful; "Preferred supplier is out, preferred buyer is in." The question of whether producers from up and coming markets will still want to supply to the European market with its high demand package in the future unleashes a heated discussion with suitable concern among the European importers. This discussion helped reach the insight and goal of the organiser SharePeople: communication is important in understanding one another. Collaboration is needed to create joint solutions and making the chain sustainable and strong from earth to plate.

This conference is the first step. The day's conclusion is that communication, collaboration and sharing knowledge are of crucial importance with the value chain. Jonne Zweers, director of SharePeople: "Each one of us knows only a part. To find out the whole truth we must put all the parts together." Patricia Wachania: "My wish is that Reshaping Trade in Fresh Foods becomes a reality as soon as possible".

There was a large attendance and many sided interest from the fruit and vegetable sector. There were retailers and trader present, including Frugi Venta, Deli XL, Lidl, Ahold, The Greenery, Special Fruit België, Bakker Barendrecht. Other attendees were IDH, Bop inc., ICCO and Embassy Kenia. Speakers included Rekers, CEO and founder SCOPEinsight and Newforesight, and Dr. Andre Nijhof, Nyenrode Business University.

Reshaping Trade in Fresh Foods is an innovatory initiative by SharePeople and was organised in collaboration with Nyenrode Business University. SharePeople supports European retailers, trader and producers from up and coming economies in realising and optimising the collaboration between them, and finding concrete solutions to challenges in the international value chain. For instance, in 2012 Ahold Europe adjusted its avocado sourcing strategy based on insights from the SharePeople programme. In 2013 the organisations are focussing on strengthening the citrus chain.

For more information about SharePeople or the conference visit: www.sharepeople.nl.

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