Robbie Hogervorst conducted a series of regional conferences in South Africa for CBIs natural ingredients project to follow-up on earlier strategic conferences held in December 2014. The first conferences focused on export development: coming to a product suitable for exports to the European market. Outcomes included key actions at company and sector level to organize natural ingredients value chains, meet legislative and buyer requirements in terms of quality, documentation and certification and setting up the human and financial capacities to support such processes.
The second series of conferences took these outcomes one step further by looking at export promotion: developing the right product for the right market, supported by the right promotion and marketing mix. Of course, research is vital to these efforts. As such, the conferences not only brought together companies and public sector officials from key departments at local and national level, but also brought in researchers from universities and research institutes with research programmes that are relevant to the national ingredients sector.
Together the groups identified product development, marketing and research capacities in the country, both at company and sector level. With this, they determined the gaps that need to be closed for the sector to improve its access to the EU market. These outcomes, together with the results of the earlier conferences, were used to come to a regional export strategy. A later conference, provisionally planned for September this year, will bring regional outcomes together to come to a national export strategy for the sector.
In addition, two round tables brought together companies in the CBI programme to discuss how to get organised. The expectations and solutions presented by the companies were discussed with government departments to set out a first road map to come to a platform to organise the exporters in the sector.