Recently, the interprofessional organization INTER-BIO through the project “Integrated export services for Romanian SMEs – Swiss-Romanian Cooperation Program, aimed at reducing the economic and social disparities within the enlarged European Union 2017-2019” helped the organic producers participate at Asia’s largest bio-agriculture fair, Biofach Shanghai 2019, fair that was attended by 30 local producers with various products: bee products, wines, cheese, fish, cold pressed oils, teas, fruits and seeds.
After efforts to enter the Romanian retail networks, our organic producers also understood through this participation that in order to sell they have to approach the foreign markets. The presence of the Romanian offers of products on the Chinese market comes at a time when China is registering the highest growth rate of consumption of organic products in the world, being currently the 4th largest market after the USA, Germany and France. In addition, the new generation of organic consumers have more trust and are in search of European organic products, appreciating them for their taste and high quality standard.
“After comparing, the requirements of foreign markets in general and of China, through this event, we got to the conclusion that the demand for organic products in Romania is low, and the domestic market does not offer great possibilities for producers and processors. Unfortunately, the existing distribution networks in the country are not friendly and stimulating enough for the Romanian producers, and don’t allow them to develop businesses on a large scale, nationally and then internationally. Domestic production is insufficiently stimulated. On its own, reducing VAT does not help much, as an incentive for producers and processors. Even exports alone, especially those focused on low-processed primary products such as cereals or fruit, do not develop their businesses in a sustainable and profitable way. The Swiss-Romanian Cooperation Program aimed at reducing economic and social disparities within the enlarged European Union 2017-2019, was the school that gave the passport for export for small companies with great ambitions in processing and branding, in this way they gained courage to try on foreign markets. The platform created by the program, the export centers developed as pilot projects in Ploiești and Bacău can close, and what has been accumulated as experience can be lost without more support in the future. We have on our side this courageous spirit of some companies of which the previous support programs knew little. INTER-BIO thinks that a solution is organizing organic product chains, although previously this solution was tried and failed, the idea of doing this was reborn from within them. ”said Assoc.Prof. dr. Costin Lianu, General Manager of USH Pro Business, President of INTER-BIO Association.
“There are many examples, in many states, of government policies for the development of the organic sector through information, awareness and education campaigns for the population, prioritization in public procurement of organic food, with direct effects on market development. Governments should be more inspired by these states. China, for example, supports the creation of sales hubs both at home and abroad. In all countries, such centers or clusters are present, and INTER-BIO, born through a movement that is willing to raise awareness among producers through the “Swiss-Romanian Cooperation Program aimed at reducing economic and social disparities within the enlarged European Union 2017-2019”, but it will request support both for the continuation of the work of the regional centers in the country and for the organization of such permanent centers abroad, in which organic producers and exporters from Romania to expose “said Madalina Giurescu, President of the Agricultural Cooperative Bio Cătina, and representative of the Organic Land Association – member organization of INTER-BIO.
Romania still has a long way to go to exceed the modest 2% of the agricultural area certified as organic. Although welcomed and appreciated by the whole sector, the government’s recent decision to reduce VAT to 5% should not remain unique, as the state has to pay more attention to the beneficial impact of organic products on public health and to facilitate the access to such products.
“Bio Carpathia is following the same development steps that agricultural cooperatives in Europe took more than 250 years ago. We organized the production of raw materials and then processing of goods, not some easy things to do in Romania, after the trauma of communism. Unfortunately, although we benefit from fiscal bankruptcies offered by law and we can further develop the production of cheese, Bio Carpathia brand, the lack of access to retail in Romania has determined us to focus on foreign markets. We all know that unsold products kill the manufacturer. We enjoyed the appreciation of the specific taste of Romanian cheese (cheese, telemea, matured cheese, etc.), but the large volumes required for export make it impossible to meet this challenge, requiring large investments in the development of logistics and storage infrastructure. The Chinese market is huge (1.3 billion inhabitants) and it must be approached strategically, collectively, not individually. We want the success in Shanghai to be continued through the national export financing program, ”said Aurel Blaj, President of the Romanian Association of Ecological Processors (APER), organization member of INTER-BIO.
“International competition is much tougher than the one on the domestic market because Romania does not have a country brand, a landmark for any consumer in the world. Now is the time, to creat the country brand of Romania, with organic products. Romania has great advantages, it has an amazing soil quality and uniqueness of the pedoclimatic conditions, which, exploited in organic regime, enhance these strengths. The Chinese market is following the global trend of accelerated growth in the consumption of organic products, but to penetrate it, you must invest not only in your image as a company, but to benefit from the advantages of an intense and continuously promoted country brand regardless of government. Lucian Neacșu, President of the Association of Producers of Wines and Wine Products – Însurăței, Brăila, member organization of INTER-BIO. “I voluntarily withdrew myself from the chains, because there were unacceptable conditions imposed by the big retailers that monopolize the Romanian consumer market. As an example, France does not have a shelf tax at any retailer,” he said.