South African companies are pleased with the progress they are making at the World Food Moscow International Food Exhibition, which is currently underway in the Russian capital.
The businesspeople, whose participation in the exhibition has been funded by the Department of Trade and Industry (dti), on Tuesday said they were satisfied with the exposure and attention their companies have been receiving since the exhibition started on Monday.
"They have even expressed confidence in securing a remarkable amount of deals on their return," said the dti.
Rydal Jeftha of Koopmanskloof, a wine making company, said he is pleased with the progress made thus far. Jephta is finalising a deal that will see more of his wines making their way to Moscow.
The businessman started participating in the international exhibitions and trade missions in 2008 with the support of the dti with no exports, and is now exporting over half a million bottles of wines per year. His company has a market share in China, Russia with Belgium and Holland, as its biggest market.
"We came to Russia with the intention to expand our current international distribution of bottled wines and build relations with our current customers and get new customers. Getting more business would mean we have to employ more people, over and above the 120 permanent staff and 300 in-season staff that we currently employ," Jeftha said.
Walker Bay Spices are also making their presence felt at the exhibition. Eugene Van der Walt, who is representing the company, said he has had very good leads which are promising.
He said he is hopeful that by the end of the week, he will have more leads that he will follow-up on.
South Africa's Foreign Economic Representative in Russia, Moloko Leshaba, also commended the progress made thus far. He said Russian interest in the South African spices, sauces and vegetables means South African exports to Russia, which are currently dominated by fresh fruits and wines, will be diversified.
Leshaba said South African participation in the exhibition four years in a row has helped to create a brand. Retailers and distributors come looking for the stand to experience South African products.
The participation of the 20-member delegation to the exhibition is through the department's Export Marketing and Investment Assistance (EMIA) scheme, with the aim of increasing exports of South African manufactured products to Russia.
The objective of the scheme is to develop export markets for South African products and services and recruit new foreign direct investment into the country.
The exhibition is an annual event held in Moscow. It is a platform for South Africa to showcase the country's products to a significant number of wholesalers, distributors, retailers and restaurateurs.
Total trade between South Africa and Russia increased from R5 billion in 2012 to almost R8 billion in 2016. Major South African exports include fruits and nuts, manganese ores, beverages, spirits and vinegar, wine, electrical machinery and equipment.
The food exhibition will conclude on Thursday.