ITC's Enhancing Arab Capacity for Trade Programme (EnACT) supported 28 companies from Algeria, Jordan and Morocco as they made their first food connections targeting the North American market at the Salon International de l’Alimentation (SIAL) food show. The SIAL is the largest network of trade fairs in the food sector. The event, held in Montréal, Canada, linked up the 28 EnACT partners with buyers from the retail sector as well as restaurant chains, and allowed them to discover the latest food trends as well as collect information on the food and agricultural market whilst also networking.
EnACT focuses on developing market opportunities for companies in the processed foods sector. "The Sector creates jobs for the youth in manufacturing and logistics in the cities but also since the products themselves are coming from the regions outside the cities, this creates employment opportunities in the Regions" said Torek Farhadi, ITC's EnACT programme Coordinator. "Through the backwards linkages these exports engender tremendous value creation opportunities in transport, packaging and freight forwarding in exporting countries."
Last year, SIAL Canada recieved over 12,500 visitors from Canada, The United States and more than 60 other countries. SIAL events, which have become a must to attend in the food industry, are an occasion to develop many new contacts, establishing lasting business ties and sharing a passion for the food industry.
EnACT's food export experts have been helping the 28 partner companies prepare their participation in SIAL for the last four months in-country. Preparation included the selection of products which had the most chance of being sold in the North American markets, adapting product size and packaging for export and coaching the marketing personel of the companies in taking advantage of the event in terms of sales connections. In Montréal, during the event, EnACT's consultants worked hand in hand with the companies to attract the most number of qualified visitors to their exhibition stands and make the right presentation for each type of buyer.
At times, pricing discussions could become challenging because on food products where margins are already slim, accepting the wrong terms of delivery and logistics could eat up all the profit an exporting firm intends to make. With this, also, EnACT experts helped companies negotiate better terms with their buyers. "By helping companies from EnACT countries make the best of their participation at SIAL, EnACT is helping them perfect their overall competitiveness, as the market in North America is very demanding in terms of quality, packaging and sanitary norms", said Farhadi.