SA fruit industry to press ahead with key export trade fairs -

SA fruit industry to press ahead with key export trade fairs

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SA fruit industry to press ahead with key export trade fairs

South African fruit producers are trying to set up a meeting with Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) officials to see if they can regain funding for participating in overseas trade fairs.

The Fresh Produce Exporters' Forum (FPEF) is hoping it can convince the government that taking part in such events is crucial for the fruit industry.

FPEF chief executive Anton Kruger, however, cautioned that it would be unwise to rely solely on government financial support.

"I think we should develop a more sustainable funding model from the industry itself. We can get funding from the DTI but we cannot rely on them."

He said any state funding his trade organization managed to secure would then be used to reimburse the industry.

There are a number of key events this year which South African exporters are determined to attend such as Asia Fruit Logistica, Sept. 5-7, the World Food Moscow exhibition, Sept. 17-20 and Eurofruit Congress Middle East, Nov. 17-18.

Hortgro product manager Jacques du Preez, said it was essential to have a business presence at these events in order to be considered as a serious fruit player.

"We see Asia and the Far East as very important markets for us and also markets for the future. It's important to have a presence and show them we are serious about the market and committed to it."

Exporters were suprised in February when the DTI withdrew funding for FPEF to exhibit at Berlin's Fruit Logistica, Feb. 6-8, widely regarded as one of the most import trade events in the calendar.

DTI director-general Lionel October, was quoted in the media at the time as saying FPEF lost funding because they failed to secure enough entrepreneurs and small businesses.

"We are trying  to strike a balance between preserving what we have, which is valuable, and encouraging new entrants, involving sectors that have potential to contribute to the future economic growth of the country," he was quoted as saying in Business Day at the time.

Despite the lack of funding, the sector still managed to have a presence at the event in Berlin.

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