He adds that, even though there is plenty of room for adding value to our industry, there are excellent foundations for such an endeavor:
– When it comes to food processing, Serbia is 10% larger than Bulgaria, 15% larger than Croatia, but also 28 times smaller than France and 21 times smaller than Italy.Serbian market is slow, but follows trends
The USAID Competitive Economy Project also stimulates innovations in the segment of the industry of high-value products. As Aleksandar Pavlovic says, there's been a change in the motivation for purchase, which is no longer based on the ingredients, the packaging or the brand, but on the added benefits of the product, increasingly so: organic, vegan, out-of-season, geographic origin, sugar-free, health food etc.
– A higher value product relies on a motivated consumer, who is ready to pay a higher price if the expectations and the quality are met. The taste, the look, the safety, the nutritional value, the quickness of preparation are some of the important criteria for consumers. Our market, though slow, obviously follows trends. The trends are home delivery, organic and snacking, plastic free, natural – he adds.
The project supports this through the Premium Food Design hubs, such as Desing Taste Center or BIPS
, as a partner through the dm incubator and through the Belgrade Food Show.Knowledge and connections as key elements
Pavlovic believes that education is probably the most important element for Serbian companies, which then also covers access to finance.
– This sector is filled with micro and small enterprises, all of which fight for their piece of the market. Knowledge and connections are key elements of survival in such a market. Access to markets, especially the EU, is something that requires special attention and support to companies. Then there's also managing the business itself, the professionalization of companies and management models. That is the winning combination which also makes access to finance much easier – he says.