2024. March 8., Friday

The interest in SFSC Expo III has multiplied this year. The first expo opened with 25 exhibitors in 2021 and in 2024 with 80. More than 600 people attended the country’s only short food supply chain (REL) event in Jakabszállás, surpassing previous years.

This unique professional event was co-organized by Kislépték Association, the Hungarian Chamber of Agriculture, and the Hungarian National Rural Network to provide a meeting point for short food supply chain (SFSC) groups, producers, local communities, rural development practitioners, consumers who believe in the value of local produce and in strengthening our rural areas by localising our supply chains.

On more than nine hundred square meters, visitors could meet exhibitors who manufacture unique and craft-level specialised equipment, offer home-developed packaging materials, packaging machinery and process equipment, as well as services developed for small businesses. At the event, Dr. Beáta Felkai, Deputy State Secretary for Food Industry and Trade Policy of the Ministry of Agriculture, said that “small farmers play a significant role in food security. The new Small Producers Regulation, which was published in November 2023, will ease the conditions for small-scale local food production, supporting domestic small producers and ‘small-scale’ food producers.” Ferenc Gáspár, President of the National Chamber of Agriculture of Bács-Kiskun County, pointed out that the county is happy to host such events, as there is a justification for talking about short food supply chains. “There are 20,000 producers in the county, of which 14,000 are small producers. The greatest food security comes from the direct contact between producer and consumer, putting a face to the product. It’s also the biggest green policy, when we produce with as small a footprint as possible, when we talk about local production and supply.” Rita Székely, Secretary General of HNRN, highlighted that REL represents a breakout opportunity for producers. Dr. Katalin Kujáni, President of the Kislépték Association, the host of the event, drew attention to how food gets from the producer to the consumer in the shortest possible way, with the least number of intermediaries. The question is always how we can create the relationship of trust that can be established between the two sides. This is where supply chains come in. Developing short food chains is one of the best ways to protect rural life and rural spaces.” The President of the National Food Chain Safety Office, Imre Nemes, said that short supply chain cooperation could be a key solution in agriculture. The presentation of domestic honey varieties, beekeeping products and innovative tools for their packaging and sale was a key topic. Ferenc Molnár, representing the Hungarian National Beekeepers’ Association, highlighted the importance of honey as a versatile product. “As well as being delicious, honey can be a spice, a medicine and a beautiful gift”. Another priority theme was the development of the cereal value chain. Different types of mills, the “farmer-dairy-baker network”, traditional and new ways of processing and selling cereals were also presented at the expo.

Visitors were able to listen to professional presentations on international innovations in the fruit and vegetable sector, highlighting good practices from the CO-FRESH Horizon 2020 project.

In parallel with the presentations, professional guided tours of the exhibitions were organised to get to know the exhibitors better. This year, for the seventh time, the “BEST HELPING OFFICIAL EXPERT OF THE YEAR” award was presented to four outstanding professionals. The award honours the work of public authority professionals who provide outstanding support for producers and farmers in their daily work, and who are in touch with the countryside.

In addition, a new cooperation was signed between the Kislépték Association, Mastiff Cargo Bike, a Hungarian social enterprise producing cargo bikes, and the Csáford Valley Nature Point. The aim of the cooperation is to test the possibility of using the cargo bike for environmentally friendly transport and product movement, to present it at the local market and at the same time they handed over the “Szörpbicikli“, or “Syrup Bike”, which will be tested by the members of the Kislépték Association in 2024.