Commissioner Wojciechowski


Interview with CommissionerWojciechowski on the occasion of the European Union Pavilion at SIAL 2023 andVinexpo


Q1:Following the conclusion of SIAL 2023, what were the standout features of theEU Pavilion, and how did it contribute to showcasing the excellence of Europeanagri-food products?

The EUpavilion hosted interactive sessions that included product tastings, workshops,and live cooking shows with renowned Indian Chefs Guntas Sethi and Ajay Chopra.Attendees had the opportunity to experience top-quality EU ingredients used intypically European recipes, as well as innovative recipes pairing EU productswith ingredients from India. Over 50 EU business delegates attended the show,providing a tangible business angle.


Q2:During the various informative sessions and cooking shows, we observed that theEU placed a strong emphasis on the safety, quality, authenticity, andsustainability of its agricultural products. Considering this, how does the EUcontinue to ensure that its products maintain their overall quality,authenticity, and reliability?”

The EUupholds rigorous safety and quality standards throughout the entire food supplychain, encompassing controls from farm-to-fork, elevated production standards,traceability of products and ingredients, world-leading animal welfare rules andadherence to labelling regulations. Animal and plant health regulations ensurethe safety of agricultural production and allow for regionalization in theevent of disease outbreaks. Our commitment to quality extends to schemes likegeographical indications (Protected Designation of Origin - PDO, ProtectedGeographical Indication - PGI). Furthermore, the EU is actively promotingsustainable agricultural practices in alignment with the European Green Dealand the Farm-to-Fork Strategy.


Q3: TheEU's commitment to sustainability is evident. Could you provide examples ofsustainable practices or initiatives within the EU's agri-food industry thathave resonated with Indian consumers and businesses?

The EU is definitelyengaged in the transition towards a more sustainable food system, that embracesall the steps of the agri-food chain, from production of food to themarketplace. The guiding principles have been enshrined in the EU’s “Farm toFork Strategy” and incorporated into the EU countries’ respective agriculturalplans. The EU farmers get public income support provided they respect practiceswhich are good for the protection of natural resources, biodiversity, climate,and animal welfare.  The farmers are alsoincentivised to go beyond these standards and adopt even more ambitious,sustainable, ways of producing. This has to do for instance with the limitationof use of chemical fertilisers, pesticides, antimicrobials for farmed animals,and the development of organic farming. Indian consumers and businesses aremore and more in demand not only for high quality products but also for“greener” products that are free from additives or chemical residues.



Q5: B2Bmatchmaking sessions were a significant part of the EU's engagement at SIAL.Could you elaborate on the outcomes of these sessions and how they contributeto fostering collaborations between EU businesses and Indian buyers, retailers,and distributors?

The B2Bmatchmaking sessions were a significant and integral part of the EU'sengagement at SIAL. The EU Pavilion, hosting a delegation of over 50+ EUcompany representatives from diverse food and drink sectors, played a crucialrole in creating excellent matchmaking opportunities for Indian buyers,retailers, and distributors.

Theoutcomes of these matchmaking sessions were multi-faceted. They resulted in theestablishment of new business partnerships that are mutually beneficial forboth EU companies and their Indian counterparts. The direct interactions duringthe sessions contributed to a better understanding of the specific needs andpreferences of the Indian market.

During thedelegation’s visit to India, 250 B2B meetings were held with 150 Indiancompanies.

Q6:Following SIAL, what strategies does the EU plan to implement to overcomechallenges related to entering the Indian market?

Enteringthe Indian market is not an easy ride for several EU products competing withlocal production. The efforts of the EU agri-food businesses in promoting theexcellency of their products will have to continue after the High-LevelMission. From Commission’s side we can explore using different promotion toolsas a follow up to SIAL (e.g. promotion campaigns and seminars, presence atinternational food fairs, etc).

All thingsconsidered, EU agri-food products are not competing for market access in Indiadirectly with Indian foods. The EU and Indian producers are rather working todivide an ever-larger pie of growing consumer base in India, something whichwas made evident by the sales pitches and expert testimonies given at thisyear’s SIAL and Vinexpo fairs. While the EU itself imports Indian tea, spicesand even fruit, Indian consumers are increasingly interested in high qualityEuropean items such as cheeses, chocolates and wines. In fact, according to theEuropean Commission’s survey, half of Indian consumers already purchaseagri-food products from the EU at least several times each month. Imports fromthe EU are therefore providing a greater choice for Indian consumers, as muchas Indian products help achieve the same in the EU.

To thisend, the EU administration and Member States will jointly continue reaching outthe Indian authorities with a view to facilitate access to the Indian market,easing procedures and lifting non-tariff trade barriers. Last but not least,the EU and India are engaged in negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement whichshould dismantle tariffs in a significant manner, paving the way for increasedagri-food exchanges.