“EU4Business: Ready to Trade” project drives new achievements in Armenia’s dried fruits sector

The first half of 2021 saw a 77% increase in the customs value of dried vegetables and fruits export from Armenia against the same period in 2020. Some companies have also reported increase in export volume. Specifically, the export volume of dried fruits at Lukashin agricultural association have grown by 20-30% this year, in particular, over an increase in demand for Armenian dried apricots. In 2020 Armenia exported 500kg of dried apricots to the UK, while in 2021 the company will be filling an order for 2 tons. The surge in demand is due in no small part to “Yerevani” apricot variety’s competitive edge in the European markets. Studies have shown “Yerevani” to contain less sugar, thus making it a more healthy option.  

BIOFACH 2019 leading organic trade fair, where Lukashin Association first networked with its current UK partner, became the starting point for exports of “Yerevan” apricot variety to the UK. The association’s participation in the trade show was made possible through the EU4Business: Ready to Trade project. The project is being implemented by the International Trade Centre and supported by the European Union as part of the EU4Business initiative.  

The project helped a number of dried fruits producers to improve their production quality through access to international standards and technologies. For instance,  several companies implemented a peeling system thus reducing the production cost of some dried fruits. Additionally, several production units significantly improved their fruit- and vegetable-drying methods to ensure a preferred level of moisture for different target markets. Moreover,besides standard dried fruits, Armenian companies are currently producing a wide range of dried fruit products: from dried fruit presses with nuts to fruit lavash made with a new technology. The participation of Armenian companies in international trade shows, a study tour to the dried fruits production leader, South Africa, as well as continuous consultations with international experts have greatly contributed to the introduction of best international practices. 

“The main achievement that I noticed during my visit to Armenia is the introduction of the automated peeling system by some of the producers,” notes Anton Erwee, a leading dried fruits production expert from the South African Republic. For 3 years now,  Mr. Erwee has been providing consultancy to the beneficiaries of the project. 

“In Armenia, fruits are usually peeled manually, which ends up costing much more than it should in view of higher product loss. The automated system significantly reduces the production cost of some types of dried fruits,” adds Mr. Erwee. 

According to the expert, Armenian dried fruits are competitive for exports to the European Union member states as well as any other country in the world.  The expert further cited adherence to the international market standards, in particular, in  terms of ensuring the required moisture level, as a pathway to success. 

“Global dried fruit consumption has increased since the onset of the pandemic, which leads me to believe that this trend will continue. Therefore, finding buyers in a target market, making arrangements and building relationships is essential for international market positioning. You can’t sell a product unless you establish presence in a particular market,” says Anton Erwee. 

As part of the Ready to Trade project a number of Armenian companies participated in the largest trade fair for food and beverages – Anuga 2021 in October 2021. Such leading trade shows are an excellent platform for exploring best international practices and finding new partners.  

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