On April 16th 2019, within the framework of the Private Sector Development Program (PSD-P) funded by the European Union and implemented by Expertise France in Lebanon, the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture of Zahle and the Bekaa (CCIAZ), in coordination with ICON-INSTITUT GmbH, organized an event to present a ‘’National marketing strategy for Lebanese cherries and table grapes’’ at the Grand Kadri Hotel in Zahle.
In the presence of CCIAZ board members, Mr Said Lakkis, Mr Camil Hobeika, Mr Tony Tohme and General Manager Mr Youssef Geha, Eng. Said Gedeon, Deputy General Manager, Head of Services and Agricultural Development Department at the CCIAZ & Mr Bassem Hanna, Deputy Team Leader from Expertise France kicked off the event by highlighting how the strategy has been developed and how it will serve the farmers and traders access the markets at a national and international levels.
Mrs Liliane Daou and Mrs Zeina Sawaya, researchers from IPSOS, presented the main findings of the qualitative and quantitative studies conducted at a national level to understand the consumers’ behaviors and habits in purchasing fruits and vegetables, more specifically cherries and table grapes.
The Technical Assistance Team from ICON-INSTITUT GmbH emphasized the importance that farmers and traders acquire assurance programme certification (ICM, IPM, GlobalGAP…), access and analyse information on markets, trends and stakeholders in order to identify new channels of distribution, expand their market positioning, facilitate market access and increase their sales.
Based on the analysis of the studies’ findings (conducted throughout the programme at national and international levels), a marketing strategy and its respective action plan were then presented with a series of practical short/long-terms recommendations focusing on the importance of product branding and quality specifications as an opportunity for farmers to raise their revenue. The strategy highlighted best practices for farmers/traders to implement/adopt at the production, harvest, post-harvest, logistics, promotion and packaging levels. The event was the opportunity to present the new brand ‘’Merula’’ and respective packaging that have been developed by the programme for use exclusively by cherry and table grapes farmers that have been ICM certified throughout the programme.
The IT expert from ICON-INSTITUT GmbH presented the observatory that has been developed. The observatory is an online tool (Web) and mobile application, delivered in Arabic and English. Its functionalities help make farming business more efficient and improves business linkages by providing access to information, markets, stakeholders, and good agricultural practices. The observatory will be launched in May 2019.
The event gathered more than 100 participants mainly producers, cherry and table grapes farmers, exporters, retailers, PHU owners, local and international NGOs who had the opportunity to discuss the strategy over lunch.
Following the event, the Technical Assistance Team will be implementing all activities in the next following months providing the PHUs with one-on-one advisory services on ISO certification, online visibility, branding and labelling, and linking them with farmers to potentially strengthen sales and profits.