The Atlantic Food Export Virtual Expo is a unique response to global lockdown which brings together food producers, importers, agencies and policy makers for a 3 day online event in late November. The agenda combines short conference sessions with B2B meetings in which artisan food and drink producers can talk directly to importers and distributors. A key focus for the agenda is to look at how smaller, quality-focused food and drinks producers can achieve results through collaborative export models. The event runs from November 18-20 and participation is free for producers, buyers and agencies.
Atlantic Food Export (AFE) was launched in 2017 to help small food producers cooperate to overcome the barriers that they face in selling to other parts of Europe. The project is co-funded by the EU under the Atlantic Area Interreg programme and partners from 7 European regions. In its first two years AFE brought food producers together to learn about selling into each other’s home markets (France, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Wales and Northern Ireland). The companies got to know one another and formed cooperation groups to plan trade fairs and trade missions.
Since the March the project has turned its focus to online engagements. As one trade fair after another was cancelled and trade missions were no longer possible due to Covid-19, the project team started to plan alternative ways of helping their local food companies develop new export markets.
“There has been no fall off in buying by consumers, in fact many are looking for new ways to treat themselves at home,” says Ivan McCutcheon of LEO Cork City, “But it is difficult for new products to get listed at the moment. Many buyers are only thinking about their current supply chains and are slow to try something new. By combining their offers our producers can attract more attention from buyers and leverage coordinated inputs from their respective support agencies”. The project team have delivered training in e-commerce, zoom sales pitching and choosing the right web platform. The export groups have journeyed through cyberspace for virtual missions to London, Denmark and Sweden with online campaigns and meetings.
The Virtual Expo will feature conference sessions each morning that bring together the learnings from the project and share insights into the changed landscape of selling food in Europe. How can we take advantage of new e-commerce marketplace platforms? And how do we trade without travel? The afternoons are reserved for 1-1 meetings between producers and buyers. Registration link on the home page soon, for now save the date and email info@ atlanticfoodexport.eu for more.