In Beirut, hospitality and agri-food professionals unite to bounce back

Although the Lebanese news does not suggest any improvement at the institutional level, hospitality and agri-food industry professionals have decided to join forces to try to recover from three years of economic and financial crisis. , Covid-19 pandemic and tragedy on August 4, 2020 in the port of Beirut.

It is in this spirit that Hospitality Services and incubator/accelerator Berytech, respectively organizers of the Horeca Connects Forum and AgriFood Innovation Days (AFID), jointly opened the doors yesterday of their events scheduled until tomorrow at the Seaside Pavilion in Beirut, on the site of the former BIEL.

As such, Horeca Connects marks the big return – even in an abridged format – of the symbolic Lebanese hospitality and catering trade fair after two years of absence, while AgriFood Innovation Days 2022 returns for its third edition featuring startups and local producers. to the agri-food sector.

In total, about twenty Lebanese start-ups associated with the restaurant and agri-food sectors are represented there, as well as local producers of cheese, olive oil and tea, among others. All with the same goal: to expand the circle of their customers and attract new investors to develop their products in order to sell some of them in Lebanon, and export some of them.

Construction of new bridges

The start of each of the two events was given an hour apart in the presence of Tourism Minister Walid Nassar, as well as many representatives of the private sector, including the new president of the Association of Industrialists Salim Zinni, or that of economic organizations Mohammad Choucair.

“I usually start my speeches on every issue with a story about difficult circumstances,” joked Hospitality Services co-founder Zhumana Damu Salame, before introducing the theme of this new issue, “Building New Bridges.” also broadcast online.

“A recovery is vital to restarting our economy, especially after the inevitable stagnation caused by the pandemic and its impact on all businesses. Through Horeca Connects, we want to bring the industry together and reconnect to start planning and lobbying for its development,” she continued, adding that the event brings together 110 local and foreign experts who will exchange during more than 25 scheduled conferences and in the space. where visitors can discover at least 200 brands.

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For her part, Aline Kamakian, founder of the Armenian restaurants Mayrig and Batchig, who was present at the scene yesterday, told L’Orient-Le Jour that the team responsible for organizing the Horeca fair had already started meeting “a year ago.” to discuss what should be done after the Covid-19 pandemic and various ways that Lebanese entrepreneurs could find markets for their products. “The main challenge was to find ways to bring local producers and Horeca players together. It is in this spirit that the coexistence of the two conferences is concluded,” she continues.

Third edition of AgriFood

At noon it was Berytech’s turn to open AFID, an event funded by the Dutch Embassy and supported by the Italian Trade Agency.

While its previous version only took place for one day and actually due to pandemic restrictions, AFID organizers wanted to send a strong signal this year by announcing a three-day in-person rally. Bringing together “agri-food sector leaders, companies, entrepreneurs, start-ups, investors and researchers under one roof”, its aim is to “advance Lebanese agri-food innovation in the sector, identify local and regional issues, strengthen partnerships among various actors. and promote new innovation,” said Maroon Chammas, CEO of Berytech.

But apart from the aforementioned goals, the organization of this event “was first and foremost aimed at proving that our sector resists and still believes in it,” Alin Kamakyan specified. And judging by attendance seen in the early hours, the marriage between the two events under one roof “managed to seduce the crowd,” said Hani Bohsali, president of the food importers union.

Although the Lebanese news does not suggest any improvement at the institutional level, hospitality and agri-food industry professionals have decided to join forces to try to recover from three years of economic and financial crisis. , Covid-19 pandemic and tragedy on August 4, 2020 in port…

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