Fruitnet Forum South-East Europe brings you leading industry experts who will offer information and insight, highlighting international trends, identifying areas where demand is increasing and offering fresh ideas that might boost sales at home and abroad.

To propose a conference topic or to take part in Fruitnet Forum 2019 as a speaker or expert panelist please contact: Tom Joyce –

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NEW: B2B Café

Exclusive opportunity to sit down with potential buyers and discuss supply opportunities.


  • Guzman Ponce de Leon, Carrefour Middle East - UAE

(More names to be announced)

Wednesday 6 November 2019




As interest in South-East Europe’s potential as an important source of fresh fruit and vegetables continues to grow, we will look at what’s happening as far as investment in the horticulture industry is concerned and ask what more will be required from those targeting success in this growth area.


Consumer demand for fresh and healthy fruit and veg is creating new commercial opportunities for produce companies across Europe and beyond. We will hear from a major Serbian supplier that has grown into the country's leading apple exporter to find out the secret of the company's success.

10:15–11:15 B2B Café

Promote your produce to the leading players in the industry


What value could the formation of a fresh produce industry association hold for countries in South-East Europe? We invite one Belgian cooperative to discuss the potential benefits and challenges of establishing more formal ties between growers, suppliers and exporters.

11:40–12:05 Blockchain potential

This session investigates the potential of Blockchain technology to assist the fruit and vegetables sector in South-East Europe.

12:05–12:30 jupiter exploring

One of the fresh produce industry’s leading players will give us their expert views on what’s happening in the international fruit and veg market, as well as regionally. We will ask them about the latest market trends, innovation, opportunities and challenges.



A growing number of producers and exporters in South-East Europe are achieving success in the expanding international market for fresh berries. We will ask leading soft fruit category experts to explain what lies behind that success and to point out the potential challenges that might lie ahead.

14:30–15:30 B2B Café

Promote your produce to the leading players in the industry


Opening new markets will be crucial to growing the fresh produce export business in South-East Europe. This session highlights one company that has explored emerging opportunities in areas such as East Asia and the Middle East.

15:50–16:30 THE FINAL WORD

Fruitnet Forum South-East Europe concludes with a panel discussion involving leading players from the international fresh produce business, who will offer their own concluding remarks on topics discussed during the course of the day.

Thursday 7 November 2019

Delegate tour

The last day of Fruitnet Forum South-East Europe features an organised visit to various places of interest.

The tour is included in the delegate ticket. Spaces are limited and allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.

08.30 – Departure from Hyatt Regency Belgrade

09.30 – 11.30 – Visit to Agro Bel

Agro Bel System is a young company founded in 2016. It is engaged in production of high-quality berry and kernel fruit on the area of 20 hectares near Belgrade. The plantation od berry fruits started in 2017 with a vision to market fresh fruit in small packages (raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, red currants). Agro Bel controls the whole process and the cold chain thanks to having their own cold storage and transportation facilities. The company has been working on the development of a  cooperative network with the ultimate goal to expand their expert, professional and high-quality approach to soft fruit production across Serbia.

12.00 – 14.00 – Visit to Green Energy

The company is involved in production & trade of fruit and vegetables as well as in tourism. The Green Energy Group owns 50 ha of apple plantation. Company also operates with additional 100 ha of apple production from its associates. Annual volume of apples is 3,000t from own production plus 7,000 t from our associates. The company owns ULO and DCA cooler storage as well as modern equipment for calibration and packaging. Green Energy Group is export oriented and had already implemented Global G.A.P. and HACCP quality standards and working currently on implementation of BRS standard.

 Main product are apples: Gala, Red and Golden Delicious, Fuji and Granny Smith. Beside apple, company trades with other fruits and vegetables.

16.00 – Arrival at Hyatt Regency Belgrade


Fruitnet Forum South-East Europe

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Tom Joyce is senior reporter at Fruitnet Media International and a key member of’s news team, reporting on breaking developments within the fresh produce business across Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Tom is also editor of various Eurofruit supplements, including Sustainable Business, Fresh Focus Africa and Fresh Focus Middle East.

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Milan Ćirić is an heir to one of the largest apple plantations in Serbia, and is proud to bear the family name. Born in the countryside and determined to stay there, he is a young husband and father. A graduate manager, Milan works daily on improving the business of the company.

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Steve Barker is the global commercial director for Jupiter Group, the global grower with UK headquarters. During his 20 year career in fresh produce he has undertaken various roles encompassing technical, operations and commercial roles. At Jupiter, Steve is responsible for the group’s global sales and works closely with other members of the board to ensure the group's strategy delivers sustainable business growth through excellence in all areas.

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Yiğit Gökyiğit is sales and marketing deputy coordinator at Alanar Fruit Company of Turkey. He was born and grew up in Istanbul, studied in the United States, and began his career in the lighting industry. After 11 years of professional life, he joined fresh produce group Alanar Fruit Company, a subsidiary of Tekfen Agri.

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Julka Toskic is the founder of AgroBrand, an agency that helps develop marketing projects and offers strategic consultancy to brands in the business. Julka has been closely involved in the development of export industry campaign Serbia Does Fruit - drawing on more than 15 years' industry experience working for one of Serbia's largest horticultural companies.

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Michael Barker is editor of the Fresh Produce Journal, the leading publication for the UK fresh fruit and vegetable business. He has extensive experience of the food industry, having also worked for The Grocer, Commercial Grower and Grower magazines.

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Jo Lambrecht is sales & marketing manager at BelOrta. With 650,000 tonnes of fresh produce per year, BelOrta is Belgium's leading co-operative auction and one of the European market leaders in fresh fruit and vegetables. BelOrta markets a wide range varying from established classics to hyper-innovative products, from high volume staples to refined specialties, from conventional to organic. The auction’s mission is to redefine the standards within the fruit and vegetable landscape.

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Irakly Partsvania is the president and owner of Vanrik Agro Group, a pioneer in blueberry cultivation established in 2009 in Batumi, Georgia. The group owns a microcloning laboratory for the cultivation of millions of seedlings of various species, including the juneberry/serviceberry, which offers an alternative in soils less suited to blueberry production.

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Radu Niculescu is sales director at Romanian berry specialist MerryBerry. A newcomer to the fruit and vegetables industry, Radu joined MerryBerry from its inception in January 2017, driven by his belief in the role of agriculture in the future development of Romania. With 22 years of experience in IT, consumer electronics and digital cameras, Radu’s goal is to bring the latest technology to Romania’s farms, creating smart farms to improve productivity and affordability, and continuing MerryBerry’s development of organic production.

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Aleksandar Pavlovic oversees the strategy and project management for the USAID Serbia Competitive Systems Strengthening project. A three-time chief-of-party and emerging markets specialist, Aleksandar has directly contributed to the successes of a number of USAID and World Bank projects. He brings 12 years’ experience of international best practice in trade, private sector development and access to finance.

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Ivana Markovic is a graduate in fruit growing, with a PhD in fruit phytopathology and a specialisation in agricultural and rural policies, competitiveness and phytosanitary issues. Her working experience includes 15 years of research at Fruit Research Institute Čačak, policymaking at the Department for Genetic Resources and the Ministry of Agriculture, and 12 years in consultancy on agriculture and rural development issues covering western Balkan and CIS countries.

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Dr Ioannis Nanos is an external lecturer at the International Hellenic University and a Business & ICT consultant at various firms and educational institutions. For a period of three years, Ioannis was the CEO of the Central Market of Thessaloniki (fruit, vegetable and meat wholesale market), implementing major infrastructure and modernisation projects. His academic and working experience are focused on the areas of Information Systems, E-Business, ICT & Supply Chain Management.

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Hans Liekens joined Fall Creek as commercial manager EMEA in September 2017. After graduating as a commercial engineer from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Hans has spent over 25 years with various multinationals such as Tropicana-PepsiCo, Campina and Chiquita as sales and marketing manager, with a clear focus on the consumer and customer. As a newcomer to the blueberry industry, Hans now applies his knowledge and experiences to drive innovation and new ways of thinking within the business and the industry.

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Peter Perendi is lead technical manager for the produce category (fruit, vegetables, horticulture and fresh juices) at Tesco Central Europe. Peter is responsible for four countries, working closely with suppliers, including growers, producers and service providers across the world. He has wide experience in retail quality, team management, supplier improvement and production in fresh categories with a strong focus on food safety, quality and sustainability. Peter has also worked on several product and process developments, supplier consolidation projects, waste reduction processes and packaging material improvements.