Dev. export for Alsatian food products by organising collective stands at fairs; target countries are defined yearly in a common strategy adopted by companies.
The programme is aimed at Alsatian food companies in order to increase their sales by gaining new foreign markets.
To develop food export, ARIA Alsace created in 2008 an Export and International food fairs committee to set a foreign market strategy and signed an agreement with the Chamber of commerce and industry (CCI) to implement a one-stop-shop and provide a part-time expert advisor specialised in food.
This common export programme contains:
1) creation of a committee gathering companies interested in export;
2) definition of a common strategy/selection of common market targets;
3) selection of corresponding international fairs;
4) common participation to international events, organised by ARIA Alsace, with financial support from the Regional Council for the shared stand, and from the CCI to individual companies, and with communication support from ARIA Alsace;
5) development of export for individual companies with the help of advice provided by the CCI.
6) revision of the strategy and implementation plan, depending on the results of the preceding year.
Creation of a common vision (at the beginning): ARIA Alsace 0,2 FTE during some months.
Export support: CCI 0,2 FTE yearly.
The organisation of common participation to fairs: ARIA Alsace 0,2 FTE yearly.
Financial involvement from CCI, Reg. council and participating companies: depends on the fairs
Evidence of success
Today 80 companies are taking part in the Alsatian Food Export Committee.
61% of Alsatian food companies export to foreign markets to sell their products. The food industry represents 9% of the total volume of the region's exports, the national average being 7%.
Regarding the fairs themselves, satisfaction questionnaires are sent out after the event to the participating companies, if the result is not good (contacts, sells, etc.), the export committee decides to target another market.
French regulations are tougher than others, therefore French companies are generally less competitive on the global market. Moreover, it is sometimes tricky to organise joint stands and joint communication at fairs because the stands are sometimes organised at national or greater regional levels.
Potential for learning or transfer
Firstly, the local food companies need to be convinced that hunting in a pack is more efficient on the international level than going alone. When they are gathered together, they must collectively decide on an international strategy, in order to focus on some markets and not to waste energy, time and money on too many targets, as going into a new country/market needs time. Finally, for the ongoing implementation itself, the help of export specialists provided by the CCI, as well as the participation of already exporting companies, who can share experiences with newcomers, and some financial support for the shared stands, are key elements.