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.
Through 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).