Even in a rapidly changing world agribusiness remains as relevant as ever in providing societies with the basic necessities of life. The huge choice of products the sector can deliver in advanced markets has benefited consumers whose spending drives 60 per cent of global GDP.
At conference in Belgrade this week under the title “Consumer Rules Summit” participants agreed that intensive cooperation among all actors along the value chain is indispensable for the sector to successfully address the future. Speakers identified changes in consumer demand, digital transformation, climate change and global strategic interests as the main challenges ahead.
The more than 150 representatives from companies active in agribusiness, retail, Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) and distribution from the EU, south eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Turkey also agreed on the key importance of a stable business environment with predictable policies and access to finance.
The two-day summit is organized by the EBRD, a leading institutional investor in its countries of operations. To date, the EBRD has invested almost EUR 3 billion in over 160 agribusiness projects in south eastern Europe, and in the last decade investments in the sector reached around EUR 100-150 million every year.
For the region to become more competitive, it is necessary to adopt new business models allowing for the transformation of production, distribution and consumption systems, as Aleksandar Kosti, Vice President of MK Group (Serbia), Andrej Jovanović, President of Moji brendovi (Serbia), Emil Tedeschi, President of Atlantic Group (Croatia) and Svetozar Janevski, President of Tikves (North Macedonia), agreed.
– We are here to promote new foreign direct investment and to support agribusinesses, including export-oriented small businesses, to enter high-end new markets such as the EU by producing high-quality products. We see integration, within the region and the rest of Europe, as a powerful instrument for expanding trade in goods and services, but also encouraging the exchange of new ideas and innovation – said Natalya Zhukova, EBRD Director, Agribusiness.
– Globally, the sector is going through unprecedented changes caused by different factors: demographic, instability of trade regimes, digitalization, climate change and increased consumer demand. Many businesses around the world understand today that sustainability and innovation is a must for their operations and within their supply chains. We at the EBRD are ready to support this – with financing, technical expertise and policy reforms – added Miljan Ždrale, Head of EBRD Agribusiness for Central and Eastern Europe.
The EBRD is a leading institutional investor in Serbia. The Bank has invested more than EUR 5 billion across 250 projects in the country to date. The EBRD is supporting private-sector development and the transition towards a green economy, as well as investing in infrastructure to boost connectivity in the Western Balkans region.