At the In-Cosmetics trade fair in Barcelona, Robbie Hogervorst and CBI cosmetic ingredient export Andrew Jones organised a market orientation mission, to help SME exporters of natural ingredients get ready to export to Europe. Over 30 companies and business support organisations from South Africa and Latin America took part in this mission.

The mission in Barcelona helped companies verify their market entry strategy. The companies met with potential buyers and came to a better understanding of what they need to enter the European market. What’s more, the trade fair introduced them to their competitors from Europe, as well as from other biodiversity hotspots, such as Brazil. By visiting retail outlets, the companies came to an understanding how ingredients are used and marketed by European manufacturers and retailers.

Group discussions and training modules on market and industry trends and buyer requirements increased the participants’ knowledge of the European market and helped them to work on their individual plans. In the group discussions, participants discovered numerous similarities between the countries: all are highly (bio)diverse countries with sectors that are mostly composed of SMEs and facing similar issues, such as access and benefit sharing and a lack of product development capacities.

Business support organisations (BSOs) from the different countries joined the mission at In-Cosmetics as well. Robbie Hogervorst focused specifically on BSOs from South Africa, both to strengthen the position of the natural ingredients sector on the national policy agenda and to support the development of more appropriate policies and tools to support this sector in the long term.