The First Berry Business Forum Serbia

The first Berry Business Forum, held on October 6, was a place to be for all berry growers in Serbia.

Close-up of ripe raspberries.
Beeld: ©ejaugsburg

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.

Mrs. Julka Toskic, from the organization Serbia does Fruits presented the latest berry export figures covering first eight months of 2021 (See table below).

Graph with figures
Beeld: ©Customs Service of Serbia

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 longer shelf life. Serbian farmers are skillful growers but circumstances for berry farming are changing due to global climate change, and to the new market demands, changing consumers preferences, etc. Therefore, the transfer of knowledge and continuous education has been identified as necessary by the growers themselves.

It was noted at the conference that assistance from the USAID competitive economy project and from the Netherlands Embassy in knowledge transfer supported the improvement of berry fruit production in Serbia. The quality of fruits improved and the number of farmers willing to engage in a cooperative increased.

Mr. Milos Milutinovic, Category Manager for F&V in Ahold Delhaize Serbia, explained that meeting demanding requirements and standards set by retail chains is beneficiary 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 retail chain. Big systems such as Ahold Delhaize cannot deal with numerous individual farmers, thus they should find a formula to cooperate among 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 joint efforts of Serbian officials and growers, Serbian berries made it to the markets in Malesia, Hong Kong and the Golf 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.

Mr. Edgar Krieger, Secretary General of CIOPORA highlighted the importance of good planting materials and breeder’s rights. Combating climate change by implementing new production technologies were underlined by Gondy Heijerman from the DELPHY Institute and Pfor Jasminka Milivojevic from the Faculty of Agriculture Belgrade. The owner of Intersad engaged in strawberry production shared with the group that fifteen years ago they used to have frost only once a year. Nowadays, they count up to 15-17 cold snaps in a single year. Open field production is nearing its end and producers will definitely turn to covered production.

A lot of information was shared during the conference day of the first Berry Business Forum. The second day was reserved for field visits to Agrobel and the Horti Center.

In other news,

The Budapest-Belgrade team brings you curated newsflashes every Friday afternoon. These are quick, digestible, to-the-point briefings about all the latest developments in the Serbian and Hungarian agro sectors.
Today we bring you:

Green apples.
Beeld: ©Dan Gold

In last week’s Hungary Newsflash, you can read about pig sector subsidies, a nutrient regulation change, struggling fertilizer producers and apple orchard plantation grants.

A nice pork chop
Beeld: ©Edson Saldaña

In the latest Serbia Newsflash, you can find out more about EU-Serbia trade developments, chicken and pig sector news, new companies entering Serbia's market and the success and expansion of the Green Corridors.