For targeted countries - Indonesia, Vietnam and The Philippines - the agricultural sector is still of major importance in both its contribution to the overall economy and GDP. Moreover, the agricultural sector is also still by far the largest provider of employment opportunities in all three countries. All three countries increasingly face heavy competition, however, from the fast growing ASEAN East Asian countries who have contrary to Vietnam, Indonesia and The Philippines been able to make the shift to value added produce, capitalizing on opportunities in strong growing markets like that of the European Union. The global Food and Beverage industry is one of the major contributors to growth of all economies and has historically witnessed consistent growth. The industry is expected to increase at a yearly 3.5 per cent rate to Euro 5.3 trillion by 2014 . The EU is the key player in global trade, being the worlds largest exporter and importer of food and beverage products worldwide. It is also one of the leading markets for the strong new trends in the Food and Beverage industry, sustainable and health & wellness produce. Both markets show bright futures for the Southeast Asian exporters, with the search for healthy, exotic and natural food ingredients.
Quality and standards issues are hampering Southeast Asian exporters in their efforts to enter the European market. Exporters are not sufficiently aware of the stringent European Market Access Requirements. Furthermore, the exporters do not hold nor find sufficiently knowledge on export marketing to the European Union nor do they have access to relevant trade networks. Leaving them unable to successfully strategize on the opportunities that lie ahead of them. With its 40 years of success in coaching SMEs in the Food Ingredients sector towards the European Union, CBI can play an important role in bringing the Southeast Asian exporters to the European market. The Sustainable Food Ingredients programme for Southeast Asia therewith also addresses the goals set by the Dutch Ministry for Food Security as part of the Millennium Development Goals. By focussing on the export readiness of SMEs, market entry, the creation of trade networks, improvement of standard implementation and quality as well as the enhancement of the export marketing service industry