Lumen 3 Editors' Note
It turns out that much of the information about local and global food and the traditional “rulebooks” we follow need to be carefully reexamined. This applies to the economics of the Serbian food industry and to the food we eat every day.
My economy professors taught me that large economies of scale and mass production are much needed in industries that aim to compete globally. However, all the experts and industry insiders we talked with for this issue of Lumen agree that Serbia’s unique competitive advantage in the food industry is not mass production and low prices but great taste and high-quality food that can target high-end gourmet markets.
If you look at the numbers in our special report about agribusiness and the food industry in Serbia, you can see that the big star of this country’s global food export is frozen raspberries. In 2015, Serbia was again the biggest raspberry exporter in the world; with a production of close to 100,000 tonnes, Serbia outdid former record holders Chile and Poland. Lumen’s quest for the juiciest raspberries took us to the Arilje and Ivanjica regions, where every house has its own raspberry field, while the region’s biggest producers can even have up to two hectares.
Though raw-food exports still constitute a major part of our agricultural exports, four successful food entrepreneurs interviewed by Antonela Riha demonstrate that international markets are ready for high-end products from Serbia. In an exclusive interview given to Lumen, Marko Cadez, president of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce, confirms that this is in line with the country’s strategic orientation: “Our goal is to place more high-end products from Serbia on the global food market as well as organic food and products with a geographical indication.”
Goran Kovacevic, general manager of the Square Nine Hotel, knows very well that we have a potential to put the tastiest and the healthiest food on international plates. He does, however, point out that it takes time to enter the global market and to become renowned for your produce. “The problem is that this can’t be done in, say, three years; that’s not enough time to create a product and become a leader in exports,” says Kovacevic.
But some have already done so. “Nectar juice and Fructal have managed to get into Whole Foods in Florida,” explains Remer Lane, seasoned agribusiness consultant, who summarizes the spirit of all interviews in this issue. “Serbia is not so large that it is going to feed the world, but it can really be a gourmet niche supplier to the world and the regional markets.”
In the meantime, you can follow Lumen recommendations and taste what Serbia has on the menu—from raspberries, tomatoes, dry plums, homemade jams, ice creams, and cakes to some of the best regional wines and meat and vegetable specialties. And if you are a conscientious health-food-buying and-label reading consumer, as are most of the members of the mirabank and Lumen teams, spare some time to prepare the best seasonal produce at home.
Inspired by this third issue of Lumen, we asked our children to write about encouraging kids and teenagers to eat good and healthy food. Andjela Jovanovic said, “Parents just need to cook healthy food that’s delicious at home. It really doesn’t have to be a mission impossible. You can find ideas on Internet, and when the main part of the work is completed, then just a bit of motivation to get kids to the table is needed. And problem solved.” Andjela is right; there is always a way to bring delicious, quality food to our tables, and there is a way to do the same for international gourmet markets.