Top-quality products on show at prestigious forum

Minsk hosts 19th International Prodexpo-2013, with tasty samples on hand
By Yuri Chernyakevich

More than 200 companies from around the world took part in the prestigious international forum this year, with stands full of bakery and confectionery, meat and dairy products, as well as production and shop equipment for the food industry. Visitors could evaluate quality not only by eye but through organised tastings.

Among the meat pavilions was Vitebsk Meat Packing Plant’s stand, manned by Lyudmila Ivolgina. She explains that most of their output is sold in Minsk but that various suburbs have quite different tastes, with some preferring smoked products and others summer sausage. “Participation in the exhibition is very useful for us, as we learn about demand and can seek out new partners,” she admits.

The meat section was well-represented, with each participant trying to surprise visitors. Minsk Meat Packing Plant featured a violin made of sausage while Bobruisk Meat Processing Plant featured a ‘sausage armchair’.

Belarusian dairy stands attracted huge numbers of visitors, including those from Moscow. The latter commented enthusiastically on the quality of Belarusian milk, sour cream and cottage cheese. I’m confident that the produce under the ‘made in Belarus’ brand also seems to be warmly accepted across other Russian regions, thanks to high-quality products gaining a good reputation. Our niche on the Russian market appears to be permanent.

Slutsk Cheese Factory, about to launch new labelling and packaging, is one of the country’s major players in the food industry. An aggressive marketing policy is also in the pipeline, explains marketing specialist Irina Samusevich. She tells us, “We plan to update our range of cheeses, which currently includes ‘Parmesan Gold’ and ‘Tyzengauz’ — the most expensive. We’ve been producing mozzarella for pizza for a long time and are working on blue cheeses now, as well as those made from goats’ milk (a niche yet to be explored in Belarus). From spring, we plan to be selling goat’s cheese and goat’s yoghurt in shops: all very healthy!” she declares.

Following your nose brought you to the chocolate stands of OJSC ‘Kommunarka’ and ‘Spartak’, where the selection was huge. It was hard to know where to look first! With attractive new packaging and dozens of tasty novelties for New Year and the World Ice Hockey Championship, the stands were a dazzling sight. I particularly liked the ‘3D book’ from ‘Spartak’: a children’s gift box.

Prodexpo-2013, hosted by the Football Manege in Minsk, gathered thousands of visitors: all eager to evaluate the quality of the goods on show. Of course, the trade fair’s main objective was not promotion for its own sake, but to sign profitable contracts for 2014. At last year’s forum, about 20,000 contracts for delivery were signed; this year may have seen even more.
 
According to Vasily Pavlovsky, Deputy Minister for Agriculture and Food, Belarus aims to increase agro-exports to $7 billion by 2015. These seem ambitious plans, especially as 2012 brought about $5 billion of sales. However, Mr. Pavlovsky emphasises that 2013 should see at least $6 billion in agro-revenue. By building on existing markets and entering into new ones, the target is achievable.
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