04 October, 2019
Eleven premium Serbian meat products are now sold under the “Serbian quality – Srpski Kvalitet” label – the country’s first national quality label. And Serbian producers of other high-quality foods are taking note.
Serbian government officials and agrifood industry insiders gathered in Belgrade yesterday for a seminar on food quality schemes and the benefits of quality labels like Srpski Kvalitet.
The seminar was organized by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), with support from Serbia’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management and the Serbian Chamber of Commerce.
Panellists shared best practices and technical advice on managing and controlling quality labels. They also discussed marketing strategies for winning over consumers.
Branislav Raketic, Head of Food Safety and Quality Unit of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management, opened the event, noting the importance that complying with high quality standards has for the country’s food industry as a whole.
“The Srpski Kvalitet label guarantees consumers that what they are buying is of superior quality, safe to consume and made from products that are authentically Serbian. These guarantees can open up export opportunities, secure higher revenue for small-scale producers and contribute to our industry’s overall growth,” he said.
Earning consumer trust
Nathalie Vucher, an expert from the French National Institute for Origin and Quality (INAO), shared France’s experiences with its Label Rouge – offering lessons that could be applied to the Serbian system.
A wide range of food products carry the Label Rouge, first launched in 1965, earning the trust and loyalty of consumers who care about quality, she said.
“For success, the label needs to be well known to the public and have a strong reputation so that consumers know that the product has been officially certified, independently assessed and meets food safety standards,” she said.
Everything from the packaging to the presentation to the reputation of the certified product needs to reflect the superior quality the national label stands for, she said, adding that certified products “cannot be deceptive or disappointing.”
Serbia’s quality label was created by a ministerial decree in late 2016. While Serbian meat products are the first category to benefit, the label is open to all sectors.
To use the quality label, products must use raw material produced exclusively in Serbian territory. The label also requires a description of up to three specific higher quality properties that set Srpski Kvalitet products apart from other similar products in the market.
According to the decree, applications for the new label need to come from an association.
The Serbian Meat Quality Label Association, created in 2016 for this purpose, carries out pre-screening, agrees on the quality features of selected products and submits requests to the Ministry for approval.
Tamara Pejnic from the Serbian Meat Quality Label Association is pleased that interest in the Srpski Kvalitet label continues to gain steam.
“We’ve welcomed a new member into our association recently and have two new certified meat products that have the right to use the label, bringing the total to eleven,” she said. “Key to this success has been the productive dialogue with government authorities and our work together to better enforce safety and quality standards throughout the supply chain.”
The goal now is to set the wheels in motion for others, like the fruit, egg and dairy sectors participating in today’s seminar, to work with the Ministry to apply Serbia’s quality label to other premium Serbian food products.
FAO and the EBRD’s work with the Serbian Government in recent years to improve quality standards in the meat industry and develop origin-linked labels for Serbia’s famous Arilje raspberry and Oblacinska from Oblačina sour cherry is strengthening the country’s agrifood sector.
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