Plovdiv is the second biggest city and the most rapidly developing region in Bulgaria. It is an industrial center, attracting top foreign investors from the sectors Automotive, Machinery & Electronics, IT, BPO, etc.
The sales revenue of the region was about €16 billion for 2020, and 37% of total value added comes from the manufacturing sector.
Agriculture and food processing industry are traditionally very well developed in the region, thanks to the favourable climate conditions and rich soils, on the one hand, and the clustering of plenty of agri-food entities in the city, on the other. Two major universities are located in the city – the Agricultural University of Plovdiv and the University of Food Technology, as well as many other agricultural and food institutes, councils and laboratories. Recently a research centre focused on plant systems biology and biotechnology was launched in the city.
The agriculture, forestry and food processing sectors account for around 10% of the local economy and both produce €2.6 billion for 2019. There are in total 2198 companies in across the sectors. These numbers do not include the supporting sectors, such as machine building, logistics, services, etc. which also playing a significant role in the local economy.
Plovdiv Chamber of Commerce
The Plovdiv Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) was established in 1990 as a private, non-profit legal entity, unifying companies of all sizes and industries. PCCI has been an active player in the agri-food sector in the region of Plovdiv for the last two decades, enjoying a good partnership with local stakeholders and companies, and running a number of projects and initiatives across the sectors.
Through the years, the Chamber has taken part in many projects, aimed at helping society to better understand the benefits of an eco-responsible life and business. The Chamber has provided numerous trainings, seminars, focus groups, and workshops, all with the end goal to educate people and raise awareness about topics such as resource efficiency, waste management, green energy, eco-design and ‘green’ legislation.
As a replicator/associated region in the FOODRUS project, for the last year the Chamber has reviewed national and EU legislation framework. Research was also conducted on the different regulations and activities concerning waste management for businesses and households, and so there is now an increased awareness of the scope of food losses and waste issues (FLW).
Thanks to the Chamber’s vast experience as a business support organisation, it is now able to shape FOODRUS community.
In the first place, the Chamber of Commerce is a contact point of different organisations – government, non-government and business, which enables it to engage a vast network of stakeholders in the actual implementation and effective support to the project goals. Together, and with the guidance of the experts of the FOODRUS consortium, the Chamber can better define the local state-of-the-art of the FLW issues, and make suggestions for their improvement.
Considering the industrial shape of the region of Plovdiv, and the numerous food processing enterprises, located here, the Chamber’s intervention is most relevant to the segment of processing/packaging and storage in the food value chain. The Chamber is set to focus its efforts on promoting of the valorisation of food waste in the food processing industry, conducting relevant research and collecting feedback from experts and business in this segment.
On the future
The Chamber is positive about the future. There is a new generation of small/ start up companies and sole farmers emerging, who are motivated to produce clean and healthy food in a sustainable way, and to compete at both the local and international market.
These are normally well-educated, young people, who are prone to the trends of green and ecologically aware production, and a potential target group of our support, under FOODRUS and also other projects.
The Chamber of Commerce believes that they are setting the base for the future of the agri-food industry, and helping them with expertise and knowledge at this vulnerable stage is crucial.
Other work of interest
Up until now, the Chamber of Commerce is collaborating in the following related project:
CEMIS – platform for mapping available recycling centres of household and industry waste, in Bulgaria.
The main goal of the project is to engage business, non-governmental and civil sector, as direct participants and users of the pilot demonstration model for circular economy.
On the one hand, enriching their knowledge by providing understandable and user-oriented information, and on the other hand, encouraging them to increase the share of prevented municipal waste, stimulate the transfer of household waste materials for preparation for reuse and/or recycling with their direct participation.