Fruitnet Forum South-East Europe


Mike Knowles is editorial director for Europe at Fruitnet Media International, the leading publisher and event organiser for the international fresh produce business, as well as the editor of its magazine title Eurofruit. He joined the Fruitnet group in 2002 following stints with The Times, Sunday Telegraph and Haymarket Media, and has built up an in-depth knowledge of the European and international fresh produce markets. Mike speaks fluent Italian and has travelled far and wide to interview key players in the international fresh fruit and vegetable business. He has also chaired and spoken at a number of industry events, including Global Berry Congress, Fruitnet World of Fresh Ideas, Fruitnet Forum South-East Europe, Asiafruit Congress and Macfrut.

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Wayne Prowse is a market analyst and principal of Fresh Intelligence Consulting. He helps clients understand global fresh produce trends that are critical for strategic decision-making. Wayne works closely with Fruitnet Media International in the Asian market, producing seven editions of the Asiafruit Congress Statistics Handbook and writing regularly for Fruitnet publications.

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Matt started his produce career in 1991 exporting salads and melons from France. Returning to the UK, he worked in berries, stonefruit, exotics and grapes for Redbridge, where he eventually became trading director. In 2001, he joined Norton Folgate as a cherry and stonefruit specialist, and was promoted to managing director six years later. Born and raised in Belgium and Italy until his late teens, followed by a gap year in Argentina and the US, Matt returned to the UK to study languages at university. Cherries have been his specialist topic for over 20 years, with Norton Folgate playing a significant part in his career journey.

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Nemanja Ćurguz recently joined the Total Produce family as a senior trader with 10 years experience in fresh produce trade around the world. He previously worked in Serbia for a leading fresh produce grower and trader, headquartered in the Middle East, working in both sales and procurement of various fruits and vegetables. Nemanja also has experience in logistics, working across the supply chain delivering products to clients worldwide.

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Julka Toskic is the founder of AgroBrand, an agency that helps develop marketing projects and offer strategic consultancy to brands in the business. Toskic 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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Aleksandar Pavlović oversees the strategy and project management for the USAID Serbia Competitive Systems Strengthening (CSS) 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. He holds an MA in International Affairs from La Salle University, Philadelphia.

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Sanja Larsson is the founder and chief executive of Pureberry Fruits Rouges – a pan-European company focused on growing, packaging, exporting, distributing and marketing fresh berries – as well as its two subsidiaries, Pureberry and Pure Logistics. Sanja is an entrepreneur with a comprehensive understanding of companies and global strategy, shaped by her international work experience. She is also a member of the women’s executive leadership organisation Femmes Capitales and winner of the Miša Anastasijević award in Serbia for Business Vision of the year.

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Lidija Djeric has been an attorney at law since 1997 and is associate attorney with the law firm Popovic, Popovic & Partners in Belgrade. As a registered intellectual property agent with the European Patent Office and the Serbian IP Office, Lidija's practice includes protection and enforcement of IP rights in general as well as plant variety protection.

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Hugo Vermeulen is managing director of the Cool Fresh Group. Headquartered in the Netherlands, the company sources fresh produce from all continents and has clients in 54 countries. Heading up Cool Fresh International’s commercial activities, Hugo maintains tight control over its global footprint and, having built a significant presence in south-east Europe, believes the region presents great opportunities.

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Neven Kurtovic is South-East Europe representative for Belgian multinational Greenyard, with whom he has worked for almost a decade. Prior to joining Greenyard (previously known as Univeg), Neven worked for Croatia’s largest supermarket chain Konzum and subsequently NEQ Consulting & Trading in Zadar, Croatia. He also spent eleven years working in the Netherlands for Dutch fresh produce supplier Boers Holland.

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Francisco Borrás is the former commercial director of Anecoop, which brings together 69 Spanish fruit, vegetable and wine cooperatives with an annual production volume of 812,000 tonnes. He is a visiting professor at Spanish, Portuguese and Italian Universities, a member of the board of Fruit Logistica and president of the Export Group of Freshfel Europe.

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Dominika Kozarzewska comes from a family of blueberry growers. She is the CEO of the Polskie Jagody (Polish Berries) Producers Organization, a member of Polish Berry Cooperative (PBC). PBC is in turn one of the founders of European Berry Growers, a marketing alliance of berry producers from Spain, Portugal and Poland.

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Gojko Zagorac joined Verda Vivo in 2014 as director for development where he was in charge of a 120ha apple orchard as well as the construction of their cold storage facility. Today Gojko oversees their production and supply to domestic and foreign markets, including club apple variety Crimson Snow in Serbia.

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Ben Horsbrugh is Team Leader Key Account & Membership Management at GlobalGAP and works with retailers, brand manufacturers and producers around the world. Ben has a wide experience of the fresh produce industry at an international level with a strong focus on food safety and sustainability. He has also worked in the organic food sector. GlobalGAP is an internationally recognised standard with the mission of bringing together farmers and retailers in the production and marketing of safe food, protecting scarce resources, and laying the foundations for a sustainable future.

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Marko Begenišić is assistant director at Popovo Polje, an apple, cherry and grape producer-exporter based in the Republika Srpska, part of Bosnia and Herzegovina. With a background in economics, Marko joined the company in 2013, working initially in the financial and accounting department. The company itself sells fruit under its own Volim Voće (I Love Fruit) brand.