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Central American fish and seafood companies get familiar with the European market

Conxemar 2019 exhibition

From 30th of September till 4th of October, CBI welcomed 14 fish and seafood companies and 5 Business Support Organisations (BSOs) from Central America for a Market Orientation mission to Europe. The companies are taking part in the Connnecting Central America Initiative that aims to strengthen Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs) and cooperatives from Central America in becoming competitive on the European market. The Connecting Central America Initiative runs until September 2021 and is part of the EU-financed and SIECA-coordinated Central American Regional Economic Integration project (INTEC).

Congress on Social Sustainability and company visits

The one week programme kicked off in two groups. The BSO representatives started the misison with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) International Congress on Social Sustainability which focused on the importance of decent working conditions for all involved in the fishery and aquaculture supply chains.

The representatives of the companies visited the Portuguese company Brasmar. Thanks to the hospitality of this company the participants could get an idea of how a European fish processing company works. After a presentation about products and certification, Mr. Pedro Cunha and Mr. Hélder Gonçalves showed the participants around their state-of-the-art processing plant in Trofa, Portugal. The participants were updated about the European market trends and trade statistics of their products by Jasmijn Venneman from Seafood Trade Intelligence Portal (STIP).

Trade fair experience and first business contacts

The second day started with the visit to the trade fair CONXEMAR in Vigo. The objective of visiting the trade fair was to learn about European business culture, trends and possibilities. Some companies already made first contacts with possible new clients and will hopefully receive their first orders in the next months. CBI sector expert John van Herwijnen presented the next steps of the Export Marketing Plan. The participants will use the impressions and information gathered at the trade fair to finalise their plans in the coming months.

The last two days of the mission the group visited the Port of Vigo, where the participants had the opportunity to see how fresh fish is coming into the market in Europe. The participants were impressed by the variety of fishes seen in the auction hall and the level of organisation and sanitary control by the official authorities. Later the journey continued to Madrid, where the group proceeded their market research by visiting supermarkets representing different segments of the Spanish retail market.

Besides the group visited Mercamadrid and Iberia Cargo to have an understanding of how fresh fish arrives from origins all over the world and its later stage of sales to the wholesale market.

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Broader vision

The intense week of meetings and visits really helped the participants to get acquainted with the European Market: “Through this mission, we now definitely have a broader vision of what the European market demands. We have a clear idea of the opportunities we have as a company and the road ahead. We will work on our Export Marketing Plan, strengthen our processes, work on certifications and above all not get discouraged by the challenges we will have to overcome”- said Zaira Gutierrez (Salva-mar, Panama).

The next step for the project participants is to finish their Export Marketing Plans, coached by the CBI sector expert. The Market Orientation mission is an important component of the Connecting Central America Initiative that aims to support SMEs and cooperatives from Central America active in the coffee, cacao, fresh fruit and vegetables and fish and seafood sectors in becoming (more) competitive on the European market. The objective ​​is to generate for 48 SMEs an additional export volume of € 90 million at the beginning of 2023. The Connecting Central America Initiative is part of the EU-financed and SIECA-coordinated Central American Regional Economic Integration project (INTEC). Follow the Connecting Central America Facebook page to keep updated about this initiative.