While South African natural ingredient producers can boast strong unique selling points, such as an incredible biodiversity, a strong entrepreneurial spirit and access to technical skills, South Africa plays a relatively modest role on the international market for ingredients. Robbie Hogervorst supports CBI with a programme of strategic conferences in 2014 and 2015 to counter some of the root causes: cooperation and association at all levels of the value chain. First in this series, a conference on export development needs was held in Pretoria, Durban and Cape Town, bringing stakeholders together at a regional level. During this conference, critical bottlenecks were identified, as well as prioritised counter-actions at the company and sector level.