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Market Orientation mission enables Central American coffee companies to get acquainted with the European market

From 3 until 9 June, CBI welcomed 26 coffee companies and Business Support Organisations from Central America for a European Market Orientation mission. 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 one week programme started on Monday at Chamber of Commerce in Amsterdam, with trainings on Export Marketing Plan development and Corporate Social Responsibility. During these interactive sessions, the participants from Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Costa Rica and Panama received practical information focused on the European Market, enabling them to build a strong and healthy business model. Among the topics discussed were transparency in the coffee chain, social awareness and sustainable marketing. The day finished with a network event opened by CBI director Mr. Hans Obdeijn and the Ambassador of El Salvador Mr. Agustín Vásquez Gómez. Several Dutch coffee importers were present and ready to meet the entrepreneurs.

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Increasing exports to Europe and improving service, quality and profitability are key objectives for each company. Hence, the participants were looking forward to connecting with new, potential buyers and strengthen the relationship with existing ones during the visit. Taking part in the Market Orientation mission enables the SMEs to independently look for new customers on the European market. This direct way of trading empowers their position within the coffee value chain.

The Market Orientation mission continued with company visits in the Netherlands and Germany, where the exporters learned about trends and requirements of coffee importers, such as quality criteria and certification. "The quality of our coffee is important, but these visits made me realise that buyers are looking for direct relationships with us as producers. We need to invest in building trust", said Roberto Salaverría (Corporación Salaverría, El Salvador).

The mission ended with a two-day visit to the World of Coffee in Berlin, the largest coffee trade show in Europe. The coffee exporters made connections with potential buyers, and cupping sessions were organised with coffee of participating exporters. Besides, they attended presentations about the costs of production in Latin America, and the current low coffee prices for producers.  "I know the logistics at origin, and I know how to cup coffee, but I didn't know much about the logistics at the destination of our coffees. This mission provided me insight in this part of the supply chain" - said Roel Henriquez (CAFESCOR, Honduras).

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The next step for the project participants is to develop their Export Marketing Plans, coached by CBI’s coffee experts. The Market Orientation mission is an important component of CBI’s Connnecting 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.