On November 7, 8 and 9, AGRICONNECT | CLUSTERXCHANGE focused on relevant current issues and brought important names from the national and international agri-food sector to Castelo Branco!
For three days, Castelo Branco was the epicenter of innovative ideas, networking and valuable insights, in an event that brought together various players in the agri-food sector for intense days of learning, collaboration and business, all with the aim of increasing the know-how of professionals in the sector and fulfilling the goal of taking Portuguese products across borders.
The event took place in Castelo Branco, at the CEI - Center for Innovative Companies, with more than 120 participants, but also online through the AGRIFOODX 5.0 European Food Community Matchmaking platform, which had a total of 79 participants from 13 different countries in virtual format, demonstrating once again the importance of these partnerships and platforms for sharing knowledge and business.
AGRICONNECT | CLUSTERXCHANGE featured an excellent panel of speakers who came to discuss very pertinent issues for the agri-food sector.
Trends Agri-Food Sector
Diretor Técnico-Científico no CATAA
Inspirational Talks: Sustainable Future
Beatriz Lavrador Guimarães
Sustainability Leader & PMO na Nestlé Portugal
Large Retailers: Challenges & Opportunities
Diretor de P&D+I na MC SONAE
Approach to European Markets
Business Unit Manager na Market Access
AGRICONNECT | CLUSTERXCHANGE also brought European importers to Portugal, promoting exchanges with markets as important as Germany, France and Finland, who came to Portugal to meet local companies and producers with a view to networking and creating business opportunities.
Hassan Import Export
Core Finland Oy
Rafael Lopes dos Reis
Made In Market ®
Alongside all these initiatives, Inovcluster also organized two days of guided tours of the region's business structure, showing national and international participants the best of what is produced in our region and the good practices used by our companies.
Exploring Horizons and Connecting Ideas
We began with Patrícia Coelho, President of Inovcluster, who emphasised the important role played by the cluster in promoting opportunities, projects and initiatives that boost the competitive capacity and internationalization of its members, thus contributing to the full development of the agri-food industries. This was followed by Christophe Espírito Santo, Technical-Scientific Director of CATAA - Agri-Food Technological Support Center, who presented the 10 main "Food Trends for 2024".
Beatriz Guimarães, Sustainability Leader at Nestlé Portugal, presented the main lines of action and objectives of the group's sustainability strategy.
Marlos Silva, Digital & Innovation Leader at MC Sonae, addressed the challenges and opportunities of innovation for Sustainability, noting that this theme is transversally present throughout the group's R&D strategy.
At the end of the morning, we also had the valuable contributions of Juliana Teixeira from Market Access, who spoke about "Approaches to foreign markets in Europe", referring to aspects to consider in any internationalization strategy.o aspects to consider in any internationalization strategy.
In the afternoon, there were B2B meetings between participants from various European countries with the aim of fostering new contact and business networks across borders.
Business and Business Exploration
The second day continued with B2B meetings, allowing participants to deepen connections and discuss potential collaborations. At the same time, guided tours of Castelo Branco's business structure provided a practical immersion in local operations, highlighting the wealth and diversity of companies in the region.
In the morning, we visited CATAA - Centro de Apoio Tecnológico Agro-Alimentar (Agri-Food Technological Support Center), where we got to know more about the work and laboratory services that are provided here. We then visited a retailer, Auchan in Castelo Branco, in order to get to know the group and the store in more detail. In the afternoon, the visit began at Presuntos Lourenço, a company specializing in the production of ham, followed by Schreiber Foods, a leading company in the production of yoghurts for customer brands. We finished at the Malpica do Tejo olive mill, with the support of the Malpica do Tejo Olive Growers' Agricultural Cooperative and the Beira Interior Olive Oil Producers' Association. It was a day full of learning and sharing!
Discovering Fundão's Potential
The event ended on a high note on the third day, where participants explored the business structure of Fundão through guided tours. This day offered a unique insight into business practices in the region, further strengthening the connections formed during AGRICONNECT | CLUSTERXCHANGE.
On the third and final day of AGRICONNECT | CLUSTERXCHANGE, we continued the cycle of visits to the region's business structure. We began with a visit to the Gardunha Agro space in Lardosa, an agricultural production and regional products trading company, where the participants were able to get to know some of the region's typical products up close, as well as goods that are different from what we're used to in department stores, such as gourmet products. We moved on to Fundão, where we were introduced to the history, strategy and actions behind Fundão's experimental farms and the AgroTech Fundão project, and closed the morning with a visit to 7CBAFruit, a company that produces local, seasonal fruit juices with no added sugar.
During the afternoon, we also had the opportunity to visit Zimbro - Espírito Serrano, a company dedicated to the production and distribution of liqueurs and other spirits, whose mission is to produce drinks that have the unique characteristics of the region at their core. We ended up at Malpiagro, a cheese producing company that owns the Malpiqueijo brand, which was recently awarded Silver at the World Cheese Awards 2023-2024 for its Amanteigado Cured Sheep Cheese and Cabreiro Cured Sheep and Goat Cheese!
The objectives of AGRICONNECT | CLUSTERXCHANGE were to foster coordination between the various players in the sector, promote competitiveness and attract investment from the international market, raise awareness among players in the sector of the challenges of sustainability and facilitate transnational cooperation and networking. Making an assessment of these three days, we can say that the objectives we set ourselves were met, exceeding the expectations of the participants.
AGRICONNECT | CLUSTERXCHANGE was attended by a total of 190 participants onsite and online via the AGRIFOOD X5.0 European Food Community Matchmaking platform. During the event, 67 B2B meetings were held between importers and companies, there were 10 guided tours of the region's business structure and there were 5 speeches addressing various relevant current issues. The event not only stimulated enriching dialogues and strategic partnerships, but also provided an in-depth insight into the opportunities and challenges facing the agri-food sector today.
Together, we are building a more sustainable and promising future for the agri-food sector!
This initiative took place as part of the AgriFoodX5.0 project, co-financed by the European Union through the COSME - Cluster Excellence for the European Union program, and represented one of InovCluster's most recent efforts to promote collaboration and innovation in the agri-food sector and to highlight the potential of the Central Region of Portugal.
That's how we ended three days full of synergies, contacts, knowledge and business! A big congratulations to everyone involved for making AGRICONNECT | CLUSTERXCHANGE a memorable and impactful experience.