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First berry business forum in Serbia takes place

The first Berry Business Forum, held on October 6, was a place to be for all berry growers in Serbia. The first Berry Business Forum was held in Serbia on October 6 and the conference covered all topics of interest for growers: market trends, breeder’s rights, climate change, and finance opportunities. It was a knowledge-sharing event and a networking opportunity for all participants.

Serbia is famous for its raspberry production but other berries are also gaining importance. Blueberry orchards recorded increases in the last five years since blueberries are easier in post-harvest manipulation and have a longer shelf life. Serbian farmers are skillful growers but circumstances for berry farming are changing due to global climate change, new market demands, changing consumers preferences, etc. Therefore, the transfer of knowledge and continuous education has been identified as necessary by the growers themselves.

Mr. Milos Milutinovic, Category Manager for F&V in Ahold Delhaize Serbia, explained that meeting demanding requirements and standards set by retail chains is beneficial for growers. If the local market cannot consume produced quantities, the export of surplus produce would not be a problem since they are of high quality. He also praised the initiative of local growers to join forces and aggregate in a cooperative or collaborate with bigger producers that can deliver to the retail chain. Big systems such as Ahold Delhaize cannot deal with numerous individual farmers, thus they should find a formula to cooperate with each other.

Representatives of the biggest berry producers in Serbia, Agrobel, and Berry4u commended the efforts of the Serbian Ministry for Agriculture in negotiating new trade agreements and opening new markets for Serbian produce.

Thanks to the joint efforts of Serbian officials and growers, Serbian berries made it to the markets in Malesia, Hong Kong, and the Gulf countries for the first time this year. It was noted that far-away markets are important but the most important ones are regional and European markets and they should stay in the focus of Serbian berry exporters.

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