export or perish

Export or Perish: Lebanon Finds Glimpse of Hope in Agri-food 

export or perish

Rethinking agriculture is critical in building a sustainable economic model that reduces geographical inequalities and ensures food security. In Lebanon, local and regional socio-economic and political dynamics have constantly influenced agricultural expansion. Today, the financial crisis and the collapse of the Lebanese pound have put Lebanese food security at risk.

The Central Administration of Statistics (CAS) mentions that the consumer price index increased by 240 percent between October 2019 and October 2020, while food prices increased by 367 percent during the same period, bearing in mind that between March 2019 and July 2021, the cost of a liter of milk increased by seven times from LBP 3,000 to LBP 22,000.

With all these circumstances emerging, having the highest percentage of cultivable land per capita, in the Arab world, according to USAID, opens a glimpse of hope.

"Approximately 60 percent of citizens outside greater Beirut rely on agriculture—directly or indirectly" (USAID, 2021).

Import Replacement & Growth of Lebanese Export

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that financial shocks lead to acute food insecurity. Yet, Mr. Said Gedoen, Deputy Director at the Chamber of Commerce Industry and Agriculture of Zahle and Bekaa, notes that the financial crisis encouraged the Lebanese food manufacturers to quickly provide local products as a substitute for imports. Gedeon insists that the Lebanese agri-food industry produces high-end brands that wouldn't exclusively replace international products but can challenge those brands. The production of local ketchup, chips, and cheese, either yellow as in kashkaval or white mozzarella, are considered by Gedeon as perfect models whenever mentioning local food products.

According to the current economic situation, import replacement has become crucial, as it encourages supermarkets to invest in local brands. Import replacement is an economic mechanism created to complement exporting to provide a more balanced and integrated approach to local economic growth and sustainability. A community focused on import replacement would aim to produce goods and services that are being imported to keep money circulating in the region. Developing local production would boost its ability to meet the people's economic, social, and cultural demands within the area, which the Centre for Local Prosperity observes as a process of self-determination rather than a spirit of isolationism. Gedeon considers the timing to be perfect to consider this economic tool as a solution for the agri-food industry since it permits the purchase of raw material and also boosts job creation in the land of origin while making better use of industrial and agricultural lands.

According to Gedeon, the Lebanese diaspora has a worldwide footprint in establishing business relations outside their home country. This diaspora encourages local manufacturers to work in the agriculture, agri-business, and agro-tourism areas, which leads to developing and exchanging knowledge and opening doors for small agricultural businesses to reach new countries and receive foreign currency. Exports bring fresh dollars into the country, which improves the exporting nation's GDP, and once a state exports its goods, new customers are targeted. Gedeon considers this process to be an adequate definition of growth. Besides that, the agri-food sector is an influential patron of the Lebanese economy, and the Investment Development Authority of Lebanon declares that in 2018, the agri-food sector was the most significant contributor to the industrial sector.

Clusters bring together SMEs and existing companies in Lebanon's agri-food sector, creating a synergistic environment that fosters innovation, collaboration, prosperity, and growth, and that is what QOOT does.

Supporting Lebanese Agri-food Production

Agri-food firms in Lebanon have access to various Business Support Organizations that provide high-quality advisory services to help them develop and innovate. For that to keep on happening, Lebanon has to maintain the bilateral and multilateral agreements signed, such as the EU-Lebanon Association agreement, where Lebanese industrial and most agricultural products used to benefit from a free pass to the EU market. Due to the significant role of international funding and programs including the Embassy of the Netherlands, USAID, UNDP, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development EBRD, which have unique programs for the agri-food sector and deliver targeted consultancy help, the agri-food sector in the country is believed to remain safe, while a lot of different sectors are tumbling. These treaties have positively influenced Lebanese exports, particularly to European markets, and clusters had an essential role in guiding Lebanon to sign such agreements. Clusters bring together SMEs and existing companies in Lebanon's agri-food sector, creating a synergistic environment that fosters innovation, collaboration, prosperity, and growth, and that is what QOOT, Lebanon’s Agri-food Innovation Cluster, does. The last is considered a leading innovation cluster that encourages collaboration, reinforces linkages, and increases Lebanon's food sector opportunities.

Although the region is currently experiencing unstable geopolitics, alongside financial difficulties, Gedeon insists on finding resolutions, as that remains the only track to resist this difficult time.

He refers to his twenty-two years of experience in the field, through which history has verified that such difficulties demand time before things drive back to normal. According to Gedeon, the response that might help speed the recovery process extends increasingly toward the Mediterranean, by using the sea as a way to connect Lebanon to the globe.

Yet, the National Agriculture Strategy 2020-2025 (NAS) mentions several flaws and threats when examining agri-food production in Lebanon. Small farms and agribusinesses, expensive production fees, indigent farmer organizations, and weak infrastructure are all challenges that weaken the agri-food sector in the country. In contrast, the strengths and opportunities that the industry has to use are several, noting the promising agroecological requirements, high innovation potential, and the old export potential of the country with its perfect geographical spot in the Mediterranean. Here comes the importance of forming clusters, which Bachar Berro, agriculture technical advisor, considers a must since it permits governance, coordination, and collaboration among different stakeholders while using firms and academia to strengthen the sector. Berro adds that "working alliances and shared goals reduce the cost of raw materials, mainly if a decent government is there, dealing with the foreign state.” To fulfill the role of facilitator of agricultural innovation, QOOT launches a broad spectrum of activities at the local, regional and international levels. Alongside strengthening technical prowess and nurturing a culture of partnership and mutual exchange within the Lebanese agri-food sector, QOOT regularly operates to bring global opportunities to their cluster's innovative businesses.

Untapped Export Potential

"Based on the ITC methodology to assess a country's export potential, the untapped agri-food export potential in Lebanon amounts to USD 900 million, almost half (47.7%) of which is from fruit and vegetable production and another fourth of it (23.8%) made by food products (prepared or preserved)." (NAS, 2020)

In such a complex context, the agri-food sector can recreate a pivotal function in absorbing the crisis-induced monetary shocks and donating to the rehab of the Lebanese economy, eventually contributing to positioning the economy on a sustainable development track. Lebanon's primary objective should be based on increasing its domestic market share and exports to foreign markets. The country ought to reduce its cost structure and formulate a high-end fruit and vegetable market to achieve this goal.

About the Author

Karem Monzer is a journalist, filmmaker, and artistic activist. He holds a BA in Communication Arts and MA in migration, using his degrees for documentary production and cinematography, scriptwriting, editing, and content creation.

Le Liban Si Bon, Si Innovant!

The Embassy of Lebanon in Paris, France organized a culinary initiative under the title of "Mouné Libanaise: Artisanat Gastronomique" to promote Lebanese Agri-Food products, highlight the high quality of the ‘Made in Lebanon’, introduce new brands to the French market and initiate B2B Networking between all key players in the French market and Lebanese brands.

Within QOOT Cluster’s mission to support the Lebanese agrifood sector in its internationalization, and emphasis on the potential of the Lebanese product globally, our cluster’s priority today is to support the productive sectors in Lebanon, help them sustain, grow, create jobs and slowly but surely transform our economy from a rentier to a productive one.

QOOT Cluster was present to highlight the opportunity for new and innovative products in entering the French market, emphasized under “Le Liban: Si Bon, Si Innovant”. More than 50 Lebanese brands where present out of which 37 brands are new to the French market from the QOOT Cluster. Fifteen QOOT members got the chance to be showcased in this tasting event, and gained the attraction of the French stakeholders:

  1. Zejd
  2. Zeit Boulos
  3. Darmmess
  4. The Good Thymes
  5. Eshmoon
  6. Soler’s
  7. Le Pré
  8. TAQA
  9. Grapeful
  10. Bites of delight
  11. Delta group
  12. Biomass
  13. Ayadina
  14. Smart gourmet
  15. Cidra

The brands had the chance to promote their products offering a tasting to more than 150 French buyers, retailers, wholesalers and agents. Representatives from la Chambre de Commerce de Paris Ile de France CCEIP, journalists, influencers and five Hypermarkets: Carrefour, Monoprix, Bon Marché, Lafayette Gourmet and BHV were blown by the potential of the Lebanese products. More than 25 Epiceries Fines, 12 Importers and distributors, 50+ restaurants and hotels representatives attended the event. Although the tasting event was in Paris, it attracted businessman from different regions of France: Normandie, Nice, Strasbourg, Valence and Lille.

Three culinary chefs attended the event to animate the tasting segment and make use of the displayed innovative and new Lebanese products. Chef Jean Haidar who came from Nice to animate the tasting as well as the talented young Chef Rouba Assaf and the super Chef Karim Haidar who all together made out of this event a great tasting experience for Lebanon.

This event proved to be a great success showing the potential of Lebanese products. The QOOT cluster thanks the Lebanese French Embassy that has made a huge impact giving our producers the access to the international markets and working on creating the right linkages to have concrete results, and a special thank you to Min Baladeh and The Net for their extreme support in the logistics.

QOOT Becomes A Registered NGO 

Within the multiple activities of the Agri-Food Innovation Days 2022, Nadine Khoury, President of the QOOT cluster took the stage to announce the cluster’s official registration as a non-governmental organization.

Berytech, with the support and co-funding from The Kingdom of The Netherlands, helped setup QOOT, the first agri-food innovation cluster in Lebanon under the ACT Smart Innovation Hub.

Three Years of Growth

“We are a community of entrepreneurs and pioneers, SMEs, multinational companies, knowledge providers, support institutions, and funding companies. We want to make Lebanon’s flag fly higher on the World Food Innovation & Trade map,” says Nadine to the crowd gathered to hear QOOT’s announcement during AFID2022.

“When we started QOOT three years ago, we were 20 members. Today we are 90 members and counting working in 19 different subsectors, from agri-input companies to food production, wineries, breweries, distilleries, poultry, compost and the list goes on.

We have signed 12 collaborations and partnerships with academia and the Chambers of Commerce and we just signed today a 13th partnership with the Notre Dame University NDU. In 2020, despite the crisis and pandemic, we organized 11 activities for our members and in 2021, we organized 26 activities between workshops, webinars, international trade meetings, collaborations and networking sessions.”

“We joined the QOOT cluster two years ago and it’s been a good experience because of the positive environment the cluster has created. The business opportunities that members receive are priceless whether in export, networking and opportunities in new markets,” reveals Chadi Tannous, CPO of The Three Brothers Gin.

An Independent NGO

QOOT is now an independent NGO registered under the number 1477. This ensures the cluster’s sustainability, allowing it to grow on its own led by its own members while opening doors for fundraising and new opportunities.

“Moving forward, we have big plans and goals. We just created an export excellence center, we have a business and product innovation hub where members can meet all our innovators, we also have an export booster center. Members can also benefit from a new service we are working on in innovation for readiness, innovation for competitiveness and innovation for internationalization.

Valerie Zakka, Member of the QOOT board joined Nadine on stage to share her experience: “QOOT has been an amazing community for me and for all the members, it’s not only a place to network it’s also a place where you belong. If you like this industry then QOOT is where you must be. We have created an amazing environment for people to feel comfortable sharing their challenges and innovations and a safe environment where people who are competitors can share information relevant to their industry. We have also created a unique environment in Lebanon of innovation and development.”

“If you believe in reviving the Lebanese economy, if you want to become visible on the national, regional and global scale and most importantly, if you are creative and passionate, then join us.”

Women turning crises into opportunities: Foodsight!

Womenpreneur Initiative and SANAD Entrepreneurship Academy (Finance in Motion) launched the Womenpreneur Tour Book entitled “Women Turning Crises into Opportunities”.

In this book, they aim to celebrate MENA women leaders who are already at the forefront of innovation, technology, entrepreneurship, and to encourage others with the knowledge that it is possible to take up space and take on stereotypes.

“Today, in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic’s overwhelming impacts on life as we know it, we are sharing stories from that inspirational journey. These stories showcase the incredible strength and resilience of female entrepreneurs who face tremendous odds with resilience, tenacity, hope, and humor.”

FoodSight, a graduate startup from Agrytech Batch 3, a program by Berytech, and a member of the QOOT innovation cluster, participated with its founders in this interview.

The founders Fidele and Nathalie shared their stories for their entrepreneurial journey in times of crisis.

To read the full stories, you can view the book (for free) here: https://lnkd.in/g7HfN6tz

The Book Tour will continue its interviews with the Lebanese female founders in 2022, and we can’t wait for this to happen!

To mention that FoodSight founders have already been awarded Lebanese Agripreneur of the year 2020-2021 by the Future Agro Challenge, and recently awarded “Best Women-lead FoodTech business in the Middle East” by MEA Business Awards 2021.

Cheers to Women turning Crisis into Opportunities!


Source: https://food-sight.com/women-turning-crises-into-opportunities/


QOOT Cluster us event

QOOT Cluster members in Washington DC

QOOT Cluster us event us event

Increasing export only contributes to higher economic growth, sustainability, job creation and is incredibly important to a country facing economic crisis such as Lebanon. Therefore, QOOT Cluster has as a mission to assist agri-food businesses in accessing new markets, featuring them in international trade shows, supporting them as they expand globally, and facilitating collaboration with international stakeholders.

On December 2nd, 2021, eight QOOT Cluster members (Cedar's Premium, Darmmess, Eshmoon, Grapeful, Raw bites, The good thymes, The three brothers and Zejd) showcased their products in a three-day event at the Lebanese Embassy in Washington DC, titled ‘Taste of Lebanon’, in collaboration with Fair Trade Lebanon, BIEEL, ALI, IDAL and supported by UNIDO, PSDP.

The members have participated in this ‘Meet the buyer’ along with 31 other Lebanese companies and around 80 invitees. Several US food agents and brokers were brought on board to provide future consultancy and ensure a smooth market entry

According to Amira El Mourad, Berytech’s Director of Programs for SMEs “QOOT Cluster is working along with its partners to follow up with these brokers and the Lebanese companies until concrete deals are signed and consequently opening the international markets one after the other.”

The first day of the event focused on introducing the members to all attendees. The Companies’ representatives worked on building business linkages with the event attendees and on highlighting the importance of opening new markets for the Lebanese products.

One-on-one B2B virtual meetings followed during the next two days and business connections were built and compliance regulations and procedures as well were explained.

The keynote speakers were the Ministers of Economy and Industry, Mr. Amine Salam and Mr. Georges Bochkian respectively as well as the Charge de Mission Mr. Wael Hachem, US Middel East (MEPI) representative Mrs. Ariel Vaagen, Department of State – Foreign Affair Office Mrs. Natasha Carter and the Economic Attache at the Lebanese Embassy in the US Mr. Abdallah Naserdine.

us eventThrough the meetings, Lebanon’s culinary heritage and potential was prominent and felt by the agents and brokers, however many recommendations for fruitful future activities were given to the participants in order to optimize their added value in the US market, such as trade shows participation, importers and distributors engagement and publicity and marketing. Additionally, several on-going efforts from the Lebanese government and the agencies supporting these activities were encouraged.

Mr. Bahaa Kadamani, Owner and Founder of Grapeful, commented “I believe this will be the trigger for some nice success stories in the future!”. Furthermore, Mrs. Nour Bazzaz, Co-founder of Raw Bites, added “We were there to prove that Lebanese industries can reach, and we can have Lebanese products on US shelves.  Proudly coming from this small country with all the obstacles and challenges we face on daily basis we are competing to enter the US market as long as we have all the right standards and certifications.  It was a great opportunity & initiative lead by the NGOS that was well prepared and planned in such short notice to help businesses expand, As Raw Bites its always worth investing in such opportunities if you are export oriented, we are looking forward to fruitful results to prosper from this initiative”

This US F&B exhibition proved to be needed, and successful, thanks to its focus on B2B meetings and continuous follow up with the brokers and distributors. It will surely take some time to close deals, but as the participants already noticed, there is a big potential. Accessing new markets is a work in progress that should start from Lebanon by making the companies ready to export and connecting them with distributors and buyers in different promising markets.

This mission was made possible by our partners BIEEL and donors UNDP Lebanon, UNIDO, Embassy of Lebanon in Washington DC, Embassy of the Netherlands in Lebanon, and The U.S.-Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI).

Sea Sky Services 1200 x 628

Sea Sky Services Interview: Strategies set in times of crisis

Sea Sky Services 1200 x 628

Rima Azar is the General Manager at SEASKY SERVICES, a Lebanese freight forwarding company that has been her family’s business since 1929, and a member of QOOT Cluster. Rima attended the ‘Helping SMEs Build Resilience' training sessions launched by Berytech following COVID19 and the consecutive crisis that hit Lebanon, heavily impacting businesses including SEASKY SERVICES.

We caught up with Rima to talk about the impact of the economic collapse, the Beirut Blast and the pandemic on her business, what were the strategies she put in place to face these challenges and how the training sessions helped guide her decision-making process and implementation.

Q: What is the solution that Sea Sky Services offers?

A: SEASKY SERVICES SARL is a freight forwarding company that has provided shipping solutions and services by air and sea since 1995, from everywhere to anywhere in the world. SEASKY SERVICES has branched out from a customs-clearing family business that started in 1929. The in-house customs clearing enables us to offer a door-to-door service for all imports and export shipments to/from Beirut port and airport. SEASKY SERVICES is a member of the biggest network of independent freight forwarders in the world, WCA, with more than 8000 partners around the globe.

I started working in this industry totally by chance, just after graduating from AUB, and it was love at first sight. I was lucky to start my career with international companies, so my mentors at one of the oldest shipping companies in Europe, LLOYD TRIESTINO & Adriatica helped shape my managerial skills at an early age. This, in addition to my continuous thrive to learn more through other university degrees, certificates, workshops, and conferences transformed me from a manager to a leader.

Everyone who imports or exports can benefit from our services, especially B2B. In shipping, every day is a challenge and it’s a continuous learning process, that is why it's important for the client to choose someone with experience and has access to global info and networks.

Q: How did the economic crisis, Covid-19, and Beirut blast impact your work, your progress, your vision, and your company’s mission?

A: During the past 2 years all Lebanese people, and especially the private sector has and is still facing many challenges. The first hit we faced was in October 2019 when the banks we work with stopped the transfers to our agents abroad. We had many unpaid statements of accounts that were due at the end of October and the beginning of November and so we had to deposit fresh dollars in the banks to avoid losing our international connections and agents

The 4th of August blast was a more drastic hit since our offices are near the port area and our offices were seriously damaged but thank God no one from our team was injured. We repaired all the damage, and our office was operating after one week without any external support.
Covid-19 presented a significant challenge for us as well since the shipping industry was severely affected globally especially when all countries started extending the lockdown periods which resulted in the accumulation of full containers at the ports, and this resulted in the scarcity of empty containers worldwide. The freight rates have increased by more than 200% in 2021 globally.

This, coupled with the Lebanese economic crisis has resulted in a big drop in the number of imported goods and accordingly decreased our sales turnover tremendously.
Still, as problem solvers, we had to adapt to the challenging situation.

Q: What did you do to keep on going? What were the key measures and strategic decisions that you took to overcome the above situations?

A: We implemented drastic quick changes. Some steps were taken directly at the beginning of each crisis, and some needed planning and had a timeline for implementation.

We had to drop 50% of the clients that didn’t accept to pay us in cash for imported shipments. It was a very hard decision and was faced with lots of resistance from the sales team, but “cash flow” was and still is an essence for our survival.

The important step we took was to focus on increasing the volume of exports, in order to help the economy. Therefore, we opened a new department called the EMC department (Export Management Consultancy). It is the first logistics consultancy department in Lebanon that helps exporters in being export compliant, in product conformity, and in finding global strategic partners by penetrating new markets.

The 4th of August blast had a severe impact on our mental health and so we as a team had to channel our anger and frustration in a positive productive way. So exactly on the 6th of August and after a zoom meeting with the team, we decided to dedicate 25% of our work time to get and ship donations.

We reached out to all our agents around the world, and I used all my personal international connections, and we were able to generate and ship for free more than 100 tons of food, clothing, diapers, shoes, quilts bed coverings, laptops, and electrical appliances in donations.

Concerning Covid-19, social distancing required remote work which we directly implemented with the assistance of our IT partners, and work was going smoothly among departments, and with the customers, agents and suppliers. Slack was a great advantage during this crisis, we’ve been using it since 2018, so the pipeline was not interrupted. Even though our software is not a cloud, we were still able to access the server through VPN, and the mail through webmail and Microsoft 365.

What we realized was that all the companies and SMEs shifted their business models and went into the digitalization transformation caused by Covid-19. We had to completely shift the company’s overall strategy and go digital.

Q: Why did you attend the ‘Helping SMEs Build Resilience’ Training? What were you hoping to get out of it?

A: Even though I have worked in this profession for a very long time, there is always something to learn and discover. These training sessions were very beneficial, especially the ones related to digitalization. Lots of insights, tips, and practical advice were given during the sessions and the interactive workshops presented many solutions.

Q: What were the challenges that you were facing that you hoped to tackle through what you learned in the training?

A: The biggest challenge while adapting to the circumstances mentioned previously was to adopt the right steps for our digitalization. This training helped us overcome the concerns and difficulties, for example, we had many questions about which CRM to implement and how to coordinate the workflow among departments.

Moreover, many workshops managed to shift our mindset to find opportunities in the crisis.
I was impressed by how I learned that “being ready to keep up with shifting customer demand means treating planning and budgeting as a collaborative daily exercise”, and that “the key to a strong working relationship lies in shared language and success metrics”.

Q: How did the training impact your decisions? What have you been able to achieve because of it?

A: The sessions provided me with a fresh perspective, introduced me to new trends, and allowed me to consider new decisions for the future.

Social media and their analytics workshops were the catalysts for me to recruit lead generation employees and hire two new ladies in the marketing department.

We are now rebranding Sea Sky services and we are more active on social media to increase awareness of our brand.

Q: What are the opportunities that you are looking at for your business, and what do you need to get to them?

A: The opportunities are to increase exports from Lebanon, and to find global strategic partners that can help Lebanese products access new markets. In order to do that, Sea Sky Services has opened an office in the United Kingdom, since the UK market is a huge market interested in importing from new markets after Brexit.

After Covid-19, the supply chain has shifted from a linear one to a circular one. The European Green deal will affect a lot the flow of products among countries and so our focus right now in the EMC department is to increase the awareness of the Lebanese exporter and how to change the local mentality to ride this wave.

We have to offer sustainable, recyclable, organic products and packages in order to penetrate the EUROPEAN markets.

The recent political incidents proved that we must find markets outside the Mena region, we must implement an export strategy and we must work all in clusters and in teams and not as individuals

Q: How do you see the future of your business?

A: We are a growing business and despite all the challenges we will always find ways to improve our services and increase our global presence. Two weeks ago, we became a member of a global logistics network, All World Shipping Corp. (AWS) which will be an added value for our exports to the USA.

I believe that our EMC department will also help many SMEs in their export journey and will have a huge social impact.

Abou the program

The ‘Helping SMEs Build Resilience Program’ was launched by Berytech under The Rapid Response and Recovery Programme, led by Youth Business International (YBI) and funded by Google.org, to support underserved micro, small and medium businesses to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. Learn more about the program: https://berytech.org/programs/helping-smes-build-resilience-program/


Source: Berytech

Foodsight Tips: Make Food Safety a Holiday Tradition!

We gathered in this article some of the most important points to consider for handling food this holiday.

For producers

Foodborne illness cases declined globally with the COVID-19 pandemic. A German study report mentions that there was a large reduction of around 80% in some gastrointestinal diseases compared to before the COVID-19 pandemic. This reduction is mainly linked to an actual decline in infectious diseases and to multiple factors related to coronavirus measures taken worldwide such as reduced travel and increased hygiene measures.

This shed light more and more on the importance of adopting hygiene and safety measures, especially for food handlers and producers, at all levels and stages in their production of the food products, to avoid contamination and health diseases.

For retailers & distributors

On the other hand, and after the Covid-19 pandemic, home delivery raised and ordering food, either as meals or as finished products, has become a new trend globally.

But this trend also raised some contaminations cases.

Food producers are the main ones responsible for making sure the products they launch in the market fulfill are food safety & hygiene requirements, followed by retailers, distributors, and delivery agents.

At home this holiday, it’s important for consumers to trust the top quality local brands when they order their food products, to keep their family and friends safe and in good health.

Here are some food safety tips at Christmas time

For Consumers

  • When shopping: buy from reliable suppliers, check quality marks on the packaging and label, and/or overall quality aspect of the product.
  • Storage: set Fridge between 1-5 C. Avoid overload & rotate stock on a first in-first out (FIFO) basis.
  • Defrosting: if you are defrosting a frozen turkey – place it in the fridge & allow 24hours. Golden Rule: do not leave perishable food at ambient temperature.
  • For cooking a Turkey: Start at high heat for the first 30 minutes, then lower to 170C for 3.5 hrs approx, then remove foil, raise temperature & cook uncovered for the last 30 minutes. Allow resting for 30 minutes before serving.
  • Using ready-prepared foods: Use cooking instructions on packaging as a guide.
  • Leftovers: do not leave leftovers at room temperature; instead refrigerate within 2 hours of service. Once refrigerated it should be eaten within 3 days.
  • Cleaning: Ensure the water is hot & clean. Use anti-bacterial wash-up liquid & rinse clean.

Summary of the 4 Cs:

  1. COOK meat to 75 degrees, ensure it is steaming hot & juices run clear.
  2. CLEAN hands before handling food, clean utensils, scrub chopping boards & have separate chopping boards for raw & cooked food.
  3. COVER & separate Raw from cooked foods.
  4. CHILL food to prevent spoilage & deterioration.


Learn more on how FoodSight’s services can help you stay safe within your food kitchen or factory: info@food-sight.com


Source: Foodsight

Ultimate Gift Guide for Christmas 2021

It’s that time of the year again where we make a list and check it twice!  

Berytech's Christmas lists have become a yearly tradition to celebrate our entrepreneurs (if you’ve missed the lists from previous years they are herehere, and here), and of course the list is featuring delicious ideas from QOOT Cluster members.

Healthy Snacks  

With a holiday season filled with a never-ending sugar rush you might want to keep some of these healthy snacks at hand for the kids, or you might just want to grab some as a gift for that person in your life who is planning a ‘new year, new me.’   

Check the protein puffs at Raw Bites, the vegan chocolate cookies from TAQA, and the Cashew Crispy bars from Grapeful.   


Start the season by browsing Château Kefraya’s website before buying your wine, you’ll be amazed by what you will discover (the first wine made in clay jars since the Phoenicians!) then grab a couple of gin bottles from The Three Brothers that has reaped 4 different awards this year. Keep your bar stocked with craft apple cider from Cidra and stock up on alcohol-free options with Cedar’s Premium Malt beer.   

The ultimate coffee lover gift could be the Lebanese Coffee Maker with classic Lebanese coffee (and saucers!) from Café Abi Nasr. 

Lebanese Specialties  

The Good Thymes make perfect travel gifts with a bundle of their different zaatar flavors. We couldn’t choose between pure forest honey and traditional goat kishek from j.Grove but if it were up to us, we’d grab the selection box. 

On a side note, the fig preserves from Ayadina make a wonderful side for any cheeseboard.  

A perfect gift for the person in your life who’s into aromatherapy or who just enjoys the tastes and flavors of nature are Bioland’s essential oils and an unexpected gift is the Lemongrass Distilled Water from The House of Lilies perfect for winter teas or the Organic Lemon Syrop for hot and cold drinks from La Recolte.   

Wrapping and Decoration  

Bringing it all together are the ready-to-shop packaging choices from UNIPAK. Don’t forget that you can make almost anything at the Berytech Fab Lab including great custom ornaments and gift ideas. 

To make it easy, Mawsam has bundled for you baskets of carefully selected items from local producers from around the country. 

In the end, as cheesy as it may sound, the best gift you can give is love, compassion, and a lot of holiday cheer for those who need it. Happy Holidays! 


Adapted from https://berytech.org/berytechs-ultimate-gift-guide-for-christmas-2021/


Ten Tips For Export Readiness

Following the very successful ‘Helping SMEs Build Resilience‘ training sessions delivered by Q Pulse, Berytech reached out to Dima Abou Moussa, Trainer and General Manager of Q Pulse Consulting to share her top 10 tips to SMEs in the realm of export readiness and preparing for export markets.

The ‘Helping SMEs Build Resilience Program’ was launched by Berytech under The Rapid Response and Recovery Programme, led by Youth Business International (YBI) and funded by Google.org, to support underserved micro, small and medium businesses to respond to the COVID-19 crisis.

Export Readiness

In addition to bringing in hard currency to Lebanese companies struggling with the financial crisis, export helps companies increase their sales volume and reduce their costs. All companies no matter their size can become exporters. Certain prerequisites must nonetheless be met for a company to be labeled export ready.

A company must first conduct a thorough introspection of its structure, product readiness, and production capacity, followed by an in-depth analysis of the destination country/countries (legal and other requirements, market characteristics, distribution channel…).

In practice, our ten-step manual has guided numerous companies to become first-class exporters:


Maintaining a digital presence is a must when introducing your company to a potential customer. Visual cues including a beautiful logo and label, success stories posted on your social media, testimonials from a satisfied customer will all go a long way in promoting your company and products. Depending on the markets of interest, you may need to consider translating your website.

You also need to have a trading name. Check whether trademarks and copyrights apply in the target market. Also, check if your brand name or logos have any negative cultural connotations in the target market.

Understand the export business

Various webinars can provide you with a basic understanding of export logistics and dynamics. You should familiarize yourself with distribution strategies (physical presence, online e-commerce, local distributors, or partners). You will also learn different strategies to approach international markets and how to review and negotiate agreements with potential partners.

Evaluate your product’s readiness

Each country has its own requirements for shelf-life, approved additives, health or nutrition claims. Storage conditions and how the product is treated can have a major impact on its functions and shelf-life. International markets may also require conformity to certain standards of quality, either by law or in practice (many distributors in China, Canada, and UAE request ISO 22000 from producers. Egypt requires ISO certifications for products entering its market). Anticipating these constraints in defining product packaging, formulation, and production processes are essential.

Know thyself

Understand your strengths, capacity, and weaknesses in order to properly target your customers. Measure your production capacity and investigate your ability to expand both in human and material resources to satisfy a growing demand for your products. Address previous non-conformity incidents and recalls; International recalls are time-consuming and prohibitively expensive.

Select a target market

Unless you have unlimited resources, “start near and small”, by selecting countries that are geographically located nearby, speak the same language, and in which you can benefit from international trade agreements (such as GAFTA). It is vital to conduct desk research on the economic and political stability in the potential new market, their consumption preferences, and import statistics. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and Export Development Canada (EDC) both provide country risk classifications and ratings.

Conduct due diligence

Take the time to inquire about any potential distributor or client’s company structure and portfolio: ideally, they will sell complementary not identical products to your own. Analyze their financial health: most countries have records of debarred or sanctioned companies (such as the OECD website page on Bribery and export credits). Once you are comfortable with the selected partner, take time to meet frequently and help them understand your products and unique selling proposition. Also, investigate competitor products and define a route-to-market strategy.

Keep updated legal information

Country and distributor requirements change constantly. Required certifications, vertical and horizontal regulations, local and regional requirements, third-party inspections, or specific laboratory testing requirements are all issues to consider. Maintaining updated legal information is essential to prevent any potential mishaps. Your consultant may help you remain up to date on evolving regulations. Political or phytosanitary concerns in the export market may hinder or even halt access to that market for long periods of time. Since 2015, Australia lost access to its summer fruits to Vietnam due to concerns related to summer flies. On the other hand, it took eight years for China to obtain market access for its white pears to Australia in the 1990s.

Get connected

Develop your network of potential partners to facilitate your export endeavor. This is achieved through participation in trade fairs or virtual exhibitions in your markets of interest. Stamegna for instance helps FMCG importers and exporters connect by organizing online and in-person exhibitions; BizVibe connects buyers and sellers in the manufacturing, farming, educational and other sectors. You may also look for potential buyers on LinkedIn or ask your consultants to provide links.

Mitigate risks

Risks related to export can be reduced through proper preventive measures. You can/should obtain proper insurance where applicable, identify the proper incoterms, provide written quotations, and obtain documented approvals. Clearly define product specifications and expected shipment dates to prevent conflicts further down the line. Last but not least, mitigate risks related to bad debts or delays in payment by asking for irrevocable letters of credit or payments in advance.

Seek assistance

Know that the export business takes time and that there will be setbacks. Do not pull back at the first challenge. Experts are there to help you become export-ready, as well as improve the quality, shelf-life, and overall appeal of your products on the export markets.


Source: https://berytech.org/are-you-ready-to-export-your-products-here-are-ten-tips-for-export-readiness/ 

scaling clusters in lebanon

QOOT Cluster received the Scale Up Voucher for Clusters

scaling clusters in lebanon QOOT Cluster was selected to benefit from the Scale Up Voucher for Clusters, an activity under the Cluster Booster Track of the EU-funded project THE NEXT SOCIETY, aiming to empower clusters in the Mediterranean region.

The cluster received a technical assistance voucher with a value of 5000 euros to develop its growth strategy and expand business opportunities for its cluster members. Selection was based on the cluster’s mission and track records, its growth plan and milestones and its suggested plan for the technical assistance voucher.

Scale Up Voucher For Clusters

Clusters were selected from each of Lebanon, Morocco and Tunisia to benefit from this opportunity. Berytech coordinated this activity in Lebanon, Tunisia and Morocco, while partners of THE NEXT SOCIETY project in each country were responsible to implement the activity and support the cluster. Meetings were held with each cluster for needs assessment and to set the plan on how to best benefit from the technical assistance.

QOOT Cluster used the Scale Up Voucher to hire a consultant to create procedures and manuals, to work on enhancing the relationship with universities, improving the linkages between academia and industry, and on accelerating the knowledge transfer between businesses (cluster members & cluster partners).

QOOT Cluster was established in 2019 as the first agri-food innovation cluster in Lebanon to provide support and drive collaboration and linkages in the Lebanese agriculture and agri-food sectors. Currently, with over 70 members comprised of start-ups, SMEs, universities, and other service providers involved in agri-food and innovation, QOOT Cluster is involved in matchmaking activities, facilitating communication between members, managing joint ventures, promotional activities, capacity building, data collection and dissemination, lobbying and advocacy, and providing tailored support to its members in various areas.

Cluster Booster Track

The Cluster Booster Track is an exciting peer-to-peer learning and booster programme which helps cluster managers from the MENA region improve their management skills, multiply their business opportunities and open new channels of inter-clustering collaboration at national, regional and international level.

It is funded by the European Union under THE NEXT SOCIETY project and is organized in Lebanon by Berytech and ANIMA.


Read the full article: https://berytech.org/the-next-society-scaling-clusters-in-lebanon-tunisia-morocco/