THE participation of Zimbabwean exporters at the Macfrut 2021 in Italy is expected to unlock export opportunities for horticultural produces into the European country.
Running from Tuesday to yesterday, Macfrut 2021 is the largest fresh produce trade fair in Italy and three Zimbabwean exhibitors attended the event, with more producers sending samples and other promotional materials through ZimTrade, the country trade development and promotion agency.
ZimTrade chief executive, Mr Allan Majuru, said the focus on Italy will augment re-engagement efforts being spearheaded by President Mnangagwa’s Second Republic in line with the market diversification drive outlined in the National Export Strategy.
“The focus on non-traditional markets such as Italy will go a long way in meeting the objective of market diversification stipulated under the National Export Strategy, launched by President Mnangagwa in 2019,” he said.
“With the current interest to import fresh produce from Zimbabwe generated at Macfrut 2021, we are confident of the positive outcome from the Government’s economic diplomacy drive.”
According to Mr Majuru, participating local companies, which included women and youth led enterprises in horticultural production, value addition as well as agri-technology, engaged buyers from Italy and the rest of Europe who have expressed interest to source from Zimbabwe.
“There is an increasing appreciation across the world that Zimbabwe-grown horticultural produces are some of the leading in terms of quality when compared to other markets in Africa,” said Mr Majuru.
“What is now important going forward is that we encourage local producers to increase their production so that they meet rising global demand from Zimbabwean produce.”
Hazel Masvanhise, director of Farmbay — one of the companies that is participating at Macfrut 2021 — said the positive feedback being received from buyers who are visiting Zimbabwe’s pavilion is indicative of huge potential for the country to export more to Italy and the rest of Europe.
“Buyers we met were happy with our offerings and we are looking forward to establishing new links into non-traditional markets around Europe,” she said.
Zimbabwe’s horticultural exports into Europe have been growing over the years but exporters are yet to take full advantage of opportunities in the Italian market.
Despite the huge import bill of horticultural produce in Italy, Zimbabwe exported fresh produce worth only US$1,2 million to the country in 2020, which comprise mainly of citrus fruits, according to Trade Map.
Italian market for horticultural products was worth US$7,7 billion in 2020 with most of its suppliers coming from Europe and South America, according to Trade Map.
Their main import products include citrus, berries, leguminous vegetables and avocados, products that Zimbabwe has capacity to supply.
To tap into the lucrative horticulture market in Italy, ZimTrade encouraged local exporters to take advantage of the interim Economic Partnership Agreement that gives duty and quota free access into the European Union Market.