Japan, South Korea and Taiwan are not only exotic tourist destinations but also new Lithuanian food markets, the paths to which have been paved by the activity and innovation of companies, the high quality of the products they supply and EU investments.

The joint contribution of the Lithuanian Business Support Agency (LBSA) [Lithuanian LVPA − Lietuvos Verslo Paramos Agentūra] and the Lithuanian Food Exporters Association (LitMEA) [Lithuanian Lietuvos maisto eksportuotojų asociacija] unites 20 companies innovation and export by Lithuanian food producers. This has resulted in five projects funded by EU investments, of which three projects are related to the cluster SmartFood established by LitMEA.

According to Giedrius Bagušinskas, Executive Director of LitMEA and coordinator of the SmartFood cluster, the association’s companies export products to 60 countries for almost EUR 350 million annually.

The geography covers most continents of the world − Lithuanian products can be found in New Zealand and South Africa, India and Peru, Iran and Nigeria, Chile and Algeria, and of course throughout Europe.

Knowledge plus money

‘To get a foothold in a country’s market you need to be aware of the changing habits of its consumers, which means following trends and keeping up with progress. Manufacturers who develop innovative products and actively digitalise are the ones who come out ahead’, emphasises Bagušinskas, and adds ‘our competitive strength is our ability to supply products even in small quantities, as requested by the customer.’

According to him, there are two ingredients in the formula for successful exports: money and innovation. Leaders are able to combine the two while for young and innovative businesses, a lack of money usually is the obstacle to move to a higher level.

‘EU-funded projects also help our association members to overcome this shortcoming. They give us more opportunities to make use of international niches more widely by joining international networks and finding partners, and by introducing products or services of Lithuanian origin to foreign markets’, says Bagušinskas.

Dozens of companies benefit from EU investment

The recently implemented project of the SmartFood cluster to promote the export of a basket of Lithuanian products for HoReCa (hotels, restaurants, cafes) and to search for new markets has given such an opportunity to companies UAB Liūtukas ir Ko, UAB Danvita, UAB Rūta, UAB Acorus calamus, UAB Dora, UAB Viktorija ir partneriai, UAB Cerera foods and others.

Twenty-seven Lithuanian businesses were the final beneficiaries of the completed project ‘New Business Opportunities for Market Exploration and Development’ which encouraged micro, small and medium-sized enterprises to explore new foreign markets and expand existing ones. These included Autogrotas, Augija, Ekofrisa, Papilio kibirkštis, Ratutela, Choco group, Švenčionių vaistažolės and Grainmore.

Almost EUR 0.5 million of EU investment has been allocated to implemented or ongoing projects by LitMEA and its cluster SmartFood in cooperation with the LBSA under the New Opportunities LT measure, over EUR 0.5 million under the Business Cluster LT measure and EUR 0.06 million under the Inoklaster LT measure. Almost EUR 0.5 million of EU investment has been allocated to LitMEA implemented or ongoing projects and its cluster SmartFood together with the LBSA under the New Opportunities LT measure, more than EUR 0.5 million under the Business Cluster LT measure and another EUR 0.06 million under the Inoklaster LT measure.

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