The ability of the Georgian fruit and vegetable sector to compete in foreign markets is crucial for the long-term economic development of Georgia. And packaging directly influences just how well the produce can compete.
Wooden boxes, used since the Soviet era, are too heavy and inconvenient for modern handling. As a result, inappropriate packaging was one of the main reasons that Georgian agricultural products could not gain direct access to higher-value market segments such as large supermarkets and food retail chains.
To address this problem, USAID stepped in, through its Economic Prosperity Initiative, to promote new production technology and corrugated paper packaging to increase the competitiveness of Georgian produce and, at the same time, increase sales for Georgian packaging companies. The project, which began in March 2011, also developed a Georgian seal of quality that meets international standards and ensures consistency in packaging quality.
Legi Group, a 10-year-old growing packaging company, was the first to exploit this opportunity. After the company started developing corrugated packaging products for fruits and vegetables, USAID linked the company with Georgian produce growers and exporters. As a result, five Georgian greenhouses have contracted with Legi Group, enabling the company to boost its sales and grow by 134 percent in 2012.
USAID continues to help Legi Group adopt international best production practices and meet required standards, specifically targeting the requirements by high-value retailers in the Commonwealth of Independent States’ market and the European Union.
The company’s goals and plans are ambitious and clear. “We never stop learning. We are open to new opportunities and believe that there are no limits for improvement,” says Giorgi Gorgisheli of Legi Group.
USAID's Economic Prosperity Initiative is a four-year program designed to increase economic growth in Georgia.
Last updated: September 10, 2013