December marks the end of the first part of the international tours during which Macfrut was the focus of meetings, official presentations and trade fair events held mainly in Central Asia and Africa. The purpose was to promote the next edition of Macfrut, the international trade fair for the fresh produce industry, organised by Cesena Fiera, which will be held from 5 to 7 May 2020 in Rimini, Italy. This year, it will also host the Spices & Herbs Global Expo, the first exhibition in Europe dedicated to the world of spices and officinal herbs.
The road show kicked off in Central Asia in late September/early October as part of the 37th edition of Macfrut. In this region, the tour, organised in collaboration with USAID – the United States Agency for International Development – covered Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, where Macfrut was officially presented to institutions and stakeholders in the fruit and vegetable sector, with visits to local companies. Uzbekistan, which also participated in last year’s edition, is the leading fruit and vegetable producing country in the region: in fact, it is a major producer of vegetables – mainly tomatoes – and fruits, such as table grapes, apples and cherries, of which it is the world’s fourth largest producer. Tajikistan is also an important country, especially in terms of cotton production. However, due to high water demand, production is shifting towards other products, mainly fruits and vegetables: melons, watermelons, onions, tomatoes, table grapes, apricots and nectarines.
In November, presentations were held in the Caucasus region, with visits to Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan. This is how Renzo Piraccini, President of Macfrut, describes the mission in these countries: ‘The Caucasus region and Central Asia will be the international focus of Macfrut 2020, Marco Polo’s Route. There was great interest in these presentations and meetings and many companies from these countries will be exhibiting at the next edition of the trade fair. Caucasian producers are seeking buyers for their products and are showing a strong interest in technologies and packaging with a view to improving quality: Macfrut is the supply chain trade fair that perfectly meets their needs.’
Africa is of central importance for Macfrut, since this continent needs and wants the fruit and vegetable sector to grow: in this regard, European technologies and packaging are attracting major interest. The African mission began in October in Mali, a predominantly desert country that also has fertile cultivated lands. Mango is the main produce, with a production of 750,000 tonnes and exports of 25,000 tonnes mainly to neighbouring countries and Europe (Germany, France, the UK and the Netherlands). This country requires infrastructure in both the pre-harvest sector (irrigation and field technology) and the post-harvest sector (it does not have a cold chain and there are no processing industries, which means that more than half of the produce fails to reach the market and is therefore lost). In November, the tour continued in Morocco, with meetings and visits near Agadir, and then moved on to Ethiopia and Angola. In these two countries, the initiative was organised by AEFI in collaboration with the ICE - Italian Trade Agency and is part of a structured project focusing on Africa, which is aimed at promoting the dissemination of Italian technology to help the agricultural sector grow in both countries. The December mission in Somalia, as part of the Italy-Somalia Business Forum, was promoted by Unido (the United Nations Industrial Development Organization), which supports developing countries – together with AICS (the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation). More than 150 companies took part in the two-day event hosted in Mogadishu, seeking technologies, new markets and training courses to teach cultivation techniques.
The outcome of this first series of promotional tours turned out to be highly satisfying. For the first time, the participation of a group of exhibitors from Central Asia was confirmed, including companies from Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan coordinated by DAI-USAID as part of the “A taste of Central Asia” initiative. As far as the Caucasus region is concerned, there will be collective stands for Georgia and Azerbaijan, whereas Mali and Cameroon will be present in the African Pavilion – which will be hosted for the second consecutive year – along with the 14 countries that took part in last year’s edition.
The numbers of Macfrut
The 2019 edition of Macfrut featured more than 1,000 exhibitors, 20% of them from abroad. It attracted 43,500 visitors in total, 25% of which were foreign visitors from 90 countries.