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As part of the Eastern Partnership: Ready to Trade EU4Business Initiative, 15 Armenia-based companies regularly participated in SIAL Paris – the leading trade fair for processed food, Biofach organic food trade show in Nuremberg and ANUGA trade fair for food and beverages in Cologne.

The challenges of 2020 – the outbreak of COVID-19 followed by the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh – further stressed the need for local and international promotion of Armenian products.

International trade shows remain one of the most effective platforms for businesses looking to establish their market position, explore new trends, connect with new partners and buyers and increase sales. Since 2018, dozens of Armenian companies have participated in the leading European trade shows as part of the Eastern Partnership: Ready to Trade EU4Business initiative. The project is being implemented by the International Trade Centre (ITC) and supported by the European Union under its EU4Business initiative.

As a number of major fairs got suspended due to the spread of COVID-19, some opted for online platforms. In the summer of 2020, a number of Armenian producers participated in the United Fresh online international trade show as part of the Ready to Trade project.

Key factors that ensure success at trade shows are adequate production volume, competitive branding, as well as packaging and communication materials. It is also essential to make sure that the target market meets the company’s needs and requirements.

“In order to gain new buyers and partners at international trade shows, companies should adopt a proper pricing strategy,” notes Markus Azadian, the event and export expert who facilitated the participation of Armenia-based companies in different fairs.

“Forming an adequate cost price would be the first step. Other key challenges for local businesses are ensuring the required volume and standards, language proficiency, communication and sales skills,” adds Markus.

“It’s very easy to lose or discard business cards,” a project beneficiary, Director of Lukashin Agricultural Association Vardges Davtyan says.

“As an alternative to business cards, we decided to distribute product samples, which proved to be quite effective in connecting us with the new buyers. Participation in international trade shows as part of the project has allowed us to gain new partners in France and export organic and conventional dried fruits and vegetables,” Vardges adds.

Another beneficiary of the project, Bizon-1 LLC also gained new partners in the international markets, such as Russia, the US and Taiwan.

As part of the project, 15 local companies regularly participated in SIAL Paris – the leading trade fair for processed food, Biofach organic food trade show in Nuremberg, and ANUGA trade fair for food and beverages in Cologne.

“We have a long way to go in promoting the Armenian brand worldwide, and here international fairs help us a lot. They allow Armenian companies to be included in international databases and contacted by different businesses,” notes a project beneficiary, Business Development Manager at Edna LLC Ruzanna Kartashyan.

In view of the challenges of 2020, Markus recommends that local companies strengthen the existing partnerships, invest their time in creating new products in competitive packaging and pitching them to partners. The expert is confident that effective partnership between the Government, development projects and businesses, as well as an effective strategy will contribute to the proper use of resources. This, in turn, will make Armenian products more recognisable and facilitate export growth.

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