The new frontier of European agri-food is the East

Fiera Milano, Rho


The new frontier of European agri-food is the East

Among the countries that played a leading role in the latest enlargement of the Union and the forthcoming candidates, the East has confirmed itself as a market of great interest for the Italian and European Food & Beverage sector.

Europe is increasingly looking to the East. While the enlargements of the 2000s already shifted the centre of gravity of the Union towards the East, today it’s the turn of candidate countries, while some of the new members are rapidly achieving standards comparable to those of their Western partners. This is the case of Slovenia: a small country (just over 2 million inhabitants) but with a very lively economy. Suffice it to say that the GDP per capita exceeds $28,000 per year (IMF estimates for 2021), not far from the $30,000 of Spain, that has been a member for many more years. The trade with the Italian neighbours is close to €8.5 billion a year (Foreign Ministry figures), making Italy the second-largest partner after Germany. Italy exports food and drink for €238 million and imports for 176 million.


At TUTTOFOOD 2021, the country will be present with a collective exhibition promoted by SPIRIT Slovenia, the public agency promoting entrepreneurship, internationalisation, foreign investment and technology.


Among the other Eastern Member States standing out for their growing path there’s Czech Republic. The trade with Italy is around €13 billion, which is broadly balanced. Beverages are among the fastest growing sectors, around 8% in the year pre-Covid, and worth over €500 million. Food focuses on products with high added value. For example, this is the case with Semix Pluso, a company producing semi-finished products for the bakery world. "We focus on innovative products such as free-from, organic and short-label”, comments Matěj Král. "In addition to premixes, for example, we also produce healthy snacks and breakfast cereals. Over the last year and a half, it hasn’t been easy to keep innovating, but we continue to support our customers and look forward to returning to events like TUTTOFOOD”.



Bio is also the protagonist of group exhibitions


One of the most likely candidates for accession in the short term is Serbia, which signed a free trade agreement with the EU back in 2008. Today, the Union alone accounts for more than 64% of Serbian commercial trade, which totalled more than €46 billion in 2019. With Italy, the value was around 3 billion in 2020: F&B exports to the Balkan country are around 86 million and imports just over 35.


"Vojvodina is a region in the north of Serbia known for being particularly 'green'. For example, we have the lowest fertiliser use rate in Europe”, explains Olivera Kovačević, Head of Promotion Department, Vojvodina Development Agency. "At TUTTOFOOD 2021 we will be present with six organic and natural food producers who are particularly representative of the sector and we expect to give our stand the opportunity to have our local products tasted by buyers not only from Italy, but also from the rest of Europe and from all over the world".


Markets with strong growth potential requiring an all-round approach to internationalisation, such as the one offered by TUTTOFOOD 2021, Italy's leading international agri-food event, taking place at fieramilano from 22 to 26 October