As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 19th of February, 2020, it has been over a month since the European Commission (EC) launched a tender for the promotion and marketing of EU agricultural and food products entitled “Enjoy, decided from Europe” for 2020, worth a massive 200.9 million euros. Croatian producers are, for now, avoidant.
The money is not distributed according to the size of the members, but according to the programmes which will be chosen by the EC in the autumn, which would increase the competitiveness and consumption of EU products worldwide. But hardly any projects from Croatia will come to the EC table this year, until the April 16th, to be exact, as Croatian producers appear skeptical in the agri-food sector, writes Vecernji list.
“We’re discussing and clarifying the situation, but there is no concrete agreement yet as to whether or not we’ll respond to the tender,” says Ante Madir, president of the Croatian Prosciutto Cluster, which houses sixteen producers of Krk, Dalmatian, Drnis and Istrian prosciutto.
They are not satisfied, as he says, about what the project carries the products, but not the producers, who need to invest their own money, between 15 and 35 percent, depending on whether they would appear on the EU market, in third countries or in the so-called multiprogrammes of at least two national organisations from at least two member states or European organisations.
However, because of the EU protection, Croatian prosciutto is already in demand on domestic, EU and non-EU regional markets, leading to some Croatian producers believing that they wouldn’t currently benefit from the tender anyway. The cluster holds 90 percent of total prosciutto production in the Republic of Croatia, around 400,000 pieces per year.
Croatian Producers of protected Neretva mandarins are worried about the already low purchase price, unsettled lease agreements, and the failure to replace forty-year-old plantations with new ones. “You can’t run for something if you don’t know if you’re going to be producing it tomorrow,” says Neven Mataga, one of many Croatian producers.
In the Croatian Chamber of Agriculture (HPK), which called on producer organisations and economic interest associations to get involved and offered their help, they hope that someone, in the seventh year of Croatia’s EU membership, will finally use the money the European Commission is readily offering. But so far, there has been no response.
This is also because all the winners of the tender must first invest their own money so that in 1.5 to three years, only after the project is completed, the EU will return 65 to 85 percent of the invested money, as was explained by HPK leader Mladen Jakopovic.
Zvjezdana Blazic, a ”Smarter” consultant for the agri-food sector, says there have been some attempts so far, but they have all failed.
”Basically, Croatian producers are interested in this project, which was strengthened after the Russian embargo was introduced, but we don’t have the capacity to see a strong promotional campaign through until the end,” stated Blazic.
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