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Both the maple industry and the blueberry industry play an important part in not only Nova Scotia's economy, but the culture of the province as well. This research paper aims to outline the best potential market in the Benelux region for both maple and blueberry value-added products. Once the literature has been conducted a SWOT analysis on the countries will be conducted in order to determine which market is best for both maple and blueberry value-added products to enter.

2.1 Background

The research problem presented in this paper is what country, out of the Netherlands and Belgium, is most suited for export of maple and blueberry value-added products from the Atlantic provinces.

This problem was introduced by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) as they are looking for new, suitable markets to export these blueberry and maple value-added products to. For this reason, only Atlantic Canada, excluding Newfoundland and Labrador, will be explored rather than the entire country of Canada. Although ACOA is looking at exporting products to the entire Benelux region (Belgium, Luxembourg, and The Netherlands) this report will focus on Belgium and The Netherlands in order to ensure that there is a sufficient amount of information for each market, there is not currently enough information on consumers in Luxembourg in order to conduct proper research on the country.

The province of Nova Scotia is also currently dealing with the problem of an over-abundance of lowbush blueberries, which will be discussed, and by researching new markets for value-added products this problem may be mitigated as there could be potentially new markets to sell those blueberries in as a value-added product.

2.2 Purpose & Objectives

The purpose and objective of this research paper are to gain an understanding of consumer preferences in the Benelux region. In order to do this a literature review and media analysis will be conducted with a focus on three issues:

1. What are the consumer preferences of food products in each country?

2. Which country is best for maple value-added products to be exported to?

3. Which country is best for blueberry value-added products to be exported to?

These three issues are particularly important to exporting the products to the Benelux region because it will help the company who wishes to export gain a clear understanding of how the consumer will perceive their products in-market. An overview of the economic standings of the countries as well as the consumer profiles and preferences of food in each in order to obtain the information needed to fill the knowledge gap that was presented in the form of the above objectives.

3. Literature Review

In order to sell products in a foreign market, it is very important to review the previous research that has been done within the market you wish to enter. It is important because it helps you to do a number of things like determining foreign market potential, and identifying risks and challenges, all of which helps to make an informed decision on which market to enter (Lynn, 2011). In order to determine what country in the Benelux region maple and blueberry value-added products will do best in the following topics will be researched for the literature review: value-added product, maple industry, blueberry industry, economic overview of Benelux, Belgium consumer, Netherlands consumer, Luxembourg consumer, trade, and trade barriers of the countries.

3.1 Value-Added Product

The term value-added as defined by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations as a “value-addition takes place when enhancement is added to a product or service by a company before the product is offered to customers” These products can have characteristics supplementary to them that make them value-added, or they can be added to another product making the subsequent product value-added (Bradbear, 2009).

It is important when growing and selling agricultural products to add a process which will make it a “value-added” product so that the producer can receive more than the lowest market value for what they are selling. Value-added processes are considered to be economically sustainable to farmers and producers as they allow to increase profit margin without increasing the yield of their production (Wilkinson, Elevitch, 1998). Value-added production is driven not only by producers wanting to gain a larger margin for their products but it is also driven by consumer demand. It is explained as being “rooted in the branding of health, quality, regional or other attributes that respond to consumer demand. It manifests itself in increased consumer confidence in our food and higher premiums for Canadian products beyond our borders.” (Leblanc, 2004).

The shift to more value-added products, especially in the agriculture industry, has been due to a few drivers that can be seen globally. These market forces are (Boland, 2009):

• Higher demands and standards from consumers regarding health, safety, nutrition, and convenience.

• More efforts put in place by the processors in order to improve productivity.

• The technological advances so that the products that consumers want are able to be produced in an economically feasible way

Being able to sell more than just raw materials as a producer will help to mitigate any challenges that may arise from competing globally in a changing agricultural market. Producers will be selling products for an end consumer rather than just a raw commodity (Boland, 2009). There is a lower risk chance associated with farms that create value-added products that have traits which are also valued by the consumers rather than changing an aspect of the supply chain, however, this does not diminish the importance of being competitive along the supply chain (Lu, Dudensing, 2015).

3.2 Maple Industry

Canada has a strong history in regard to the maple industry producing a majority of the world's maple syrup. For the purpose of this report when referring to maple products this is any value-added production that has occurred, not pure maple syrup. The sale of maple products continues to do well in both the domestic and international market. The main provinces in Canada that contribute to the maple industry are Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, and British Columbia (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada; Government of Canada, 2017).

With that being said Nova Scotia does not have as strong of an industry in terms of size compared with the New Brunswick and Quebec industries. The following information comes from a review of the Canadian maple industry from 2016 that is an overview of Statistics Canada CANSIM tables (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada; Government of Canada, 2017).

Province

Number of Farms 2012

Number of Farms 2016

Nova Scotia

152

187

Prince Edward Island

11

17

New Brunswick

191

212

Quebec

7 639

7 836

Province

Production Share 2012 (%)

Production Share 2016 (%)

Nova Scotia

0.32%

1%

Prince Edward Island

0%

0%

New Brunswick

4.43%

4%

Quebec

92.39%

92%

Province

Maple Product Exports 2012

(CAD thousands)

Maple Product Exports 2016

(CAD thousands)

Nova Scotia

$243

$558

Prince Edward Island

$306

$0

New Brunswick

$12 082

$17 168

Quebec

$234 543

$362 310

Canada Total

$249 384

$381 394

The above information shows that Nova Scotia plays a small but important part in the total production and export of Canadian maple products. It should be noted that Prince Edward Island in 2015 completely stopped the export of maple products. In regard to where the products were being shipped to, the Netherlands and Belgium help the 9th and 10th place respectively for Canadian export of maple products. The table also displays that Nova Scotia is not producing the same amount of volume compared with New Brunswick and Quebec. For this reason, a better use of the raw materials and to gain a greater margin for what is produced, value-added products destined for export may be the best use of resources.

Between 2010 and 2014 there were many new product launches of maple products that included Canada on the product for example, made in Canada. Some of these new products included cold cereals, snack and bakery products, and beverages (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada;Government of Canada, 2015).

3.3 Blueberry Industry

Atlantic Canada has a very strong and well known wild (lowbush) blueberry industry that is very important to the local economy. Oxford, Nova Scotia being considered the wild blueberry capital of Canada. The wild blueberry is so successful in Nova Scotia that it is the number one fruit crop in terms of acreage, export sales, and value within the province (Select Nova Scotia, 2015). Wild lowbush blueberries contain the highest amount of antioxidants compared to any widely available cultivated fruits. It has been found that one cup serving of wild blueberries had more antioxidant power than cranberries, strawberries, plums, raspberries, and even its counterpart cultivated high bush blueberries (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada; Government of Canada, 2016). Wild lowbush blueberries are harvested in two year cycles which means that half of the entire crop each year is harvested (Select Nova Scotia, 2015).

Many of the farms within the blueberry industry are family owned farms (Select Nova Scotia, 2015).  

A large majority of the crop is sold as frozen and exported all over the world during the off season. Currently the industry is very important to locals as it creates approx. 1500 year round jobs within the province, not including those jobs that would also be created during the harvesting season (Select Nova Scotia, 2015).

In Nova Scotia during the past five-years there has been an average production of over 15 million kg, with a farm values totaling $25 million and more importantly to this research, a value-added contribution to the province of over $63 million (Crawford et al, 2012). Of the 15 million kg blueberries that are produced over a five-year span in Nova Scotia, approximately 2% are sold fresh at local markets, a majority of the remainder of the blueberries are sent to be frozen by an individually quick frozen method (IQF) by the company Oxford Frozen Foods. There are also many products made in the province that contain the wild blueberries such as pies, yoghurt, ice cream, jams, syrups, juice, and wine (Crawford et al, 2012).

The Nova Scotia blueberry industry in recent years has seen some trouble with the large production values. Since 2014, the province has seen 3 very large crops which has created two problems, one being that there is now a large supply in storage and two that they have created supply ahead of the market demand which has driven down the market selling price (Woolley, 2017).

Although there was a problem with large harvests for a number of years recently a positive can be seen from the 2017 crop yield. In 2016, the total amount of wild blueberries harvested in Maine, Quebec, and Nova Scotia was 89% above the benchmark year of 2013 (meaning the number that they base production off of). In 2017, the production was only 22% above the benchmark, however still the fifth largest harvest the province has ever seen (Woolley, 2017). Canadian wild blueberry exports saw a decrease in 2017 from 30.5 million pounds in 2016 to 14.7 million pounds. With that being said, what was exported in 2017 saw a unique trend that has never before been observed. In some instances European exports have been exceeded those exports going to the United States. Some markets have seen anywhere between a 73-139% increase (Woolley, 2017).

Some of the blueberries produced in the province are sold fresh at a local level and some are incorporated into value-added products, a majority of the fruit is exported outside of the province as there is simply not a large enough market to sell all of the blueberries to. In total, 90 percent of the harvested blueberries are exported outside of the province in their IQF form. This means that the blueberries have already been introduced to a value-added process within the province (Clément, 2015). Atlantic Canada exports approximately 60 million pounds, or $100 million CAD, annually to the markets in the US, Europe, and East Asia (Li, 2017).  There has been a push in other provinces, such as Ontario, to produce more value-added blueberry products either directly on the farm or to outsource the activity to local producers to make the value-added products (Rebellato, 2011).

Within the Atlantic provinces there are many value-added products being produced with the blueberry. Wine is a very important value-added product for blueberry, the antioxidants that are found in blueberry's come from the skins which are fermented to create the wines (Pinhey, 2014).

ADD TABLE ON BB IN CANADA

Wild blueberries, specifically those originating from Atlantic Canada and Quebec, are seeing an increase in popularity among health-conscious consumers world-wide. The trend is being observed with not only the fresh berry itself but the value-added products that are made from the berry (Li, 2017). The European Union is the second largest importer of fresh blueberries as well as frozen fruit and nuts which is the category that blueberries fall under (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada; Government of Canada, 2016). Within the European Union itself there has also been an increase of blueberry production as well as consumption which has followed the trend along with other soft fruits. (Agrobericten Buitenland, 2017 )

The Netherlands has seen a rise in sales of blueberry's which is correlated with the fact that they are now producing more blueberry's locally than ever before. There has also been interest from supermarkets to start doing more promotional deals with fresh blueberry's as long as they have enough supply to meet the demand (Agrobericten Buitenland, 2017). The strongest competition for blueberries within the Dutch market for value-added blueberry products are the fresh fruit themselves. Value-added products tend to be more expensive than purchasing the fresh fruit, as well as there being less healthy alternatives at a cheaper price that are available (CBI Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2016b).

Locally produced fruit and vegetables are highly praised by the consumers in the Netherlands which could make foreign fruit products not as welcomed on the market compared to other value-added products. However, with that being said, marketing products with a known origin (CBI Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2016b).

Within the drinks market, soft drinks and mineral water are currently selling more than natural fruit juices (CBI Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2016b).

3.4 Overview of Exports Markets

To see which market is best suited for the blueberry and maple value-added products an overview of the two exports countries to be considered will outlined.

3.4.1 Belgium

Belgium is a small but economically strong country within the European Union being ranked 13th in the world for both exports and imports in 2012 and with continued strength until the current year. The country is up of three regions, the Brussels-Capital region, the Flemish Region, and the Walloon Region. These regions have powers in the country which coincide with territorial issues such as public works, agriculture, employment, town and country planning, and the environment (Belgium.be, 2015).

The country is also made up of three distinct communities that make up the country which are the French community, the Flemish Community, and the German Speaking community. These communities have issues that are related to more social aspects of their lives such as education, culture, youth support, and certain aspects of health policy. Although there are federal government and federal parliament, both the regions and the communities also have their own legislative and executive bodies (Belgium.be, 2015).

Belgium import was equal to $36 billion euros in 2015 (Platteau, et al, 2017).

3.4.2 The Netherlands

The Netherlands is a large producer of agriculture with it being a very important part of their economy. Agriculture has accounted for between 1.6 – 1.9% of the total GDP for the country since 2010 (The Global Economy, 2018). Dairy farmers are the most common in the Netherlands with one quarter of the business' in this sector being made of dairy farms, followed next by arable land at 17%. A large quantity of what is grown in the Netherlands is grown to be exported to other countries around the world, with Germany being the most important export destination to the country. Although most Dutch food imports have historically come from other European countries, a trend has recently been observed of food being imported from other locations as well (Central Bureau voor de Statistiek, 2012).

The Netherlands is an extremely important country in the European Union in terms of trade, agriculture, food-processing, innovation, and is ranked the fifth most prosperous country worldwide. In 2016, the Dutch food industry's imports equaled 22.8 billion USD, 9% higher than in 2015. The food industry accounts for approximately 5% of the total GDP for the Netherlands. Dutch trade surplus grew by 15% from 2015-2016 totaling $24 billion USD. (Pinckaers, 2017b)

 The country has also been ranked fourth in the Global Competitiveness Index as well as being the second-largest agri-food products exporter. The Netherlands also has a very strong services sector and a strong presence of international companies within its borders due to the favourable positioning in regard to global trade (Holland Trade and Invest, 2017).

Trade with the Netherlands allows Canada to also gain access to the other European markets by having effective ports of trade at the port of Rotterdam and Schipol Airport. It is also the leading hub specifically for agri-food products (The Canadian Trade Commissioner Service, 2017). The Dutch food market relies heavily on imports (Pinckaers, 2017a), in 2015, the total value of Dutch imports of goods was at 623 billion in $CAD (World Bank, 2017). During the last decade there has been a trend for Dutch food retailers to purchase food products that are either produced or obtained in a sustainable manner, which affects the purchasing decisions of importers in the country (Pinckaers, 2017a)

The Global Agriculture Information Networks names 4 main market drivers for food processing in the Netherlands. The first being food safety and regulations, the standards of which have been laid out in the European regulations for food stuffs as well as the Dutch Food Law. The scope of food safety and regulation includes confidence and product integrity in order to gain and keep consumer trust in the food industry, as well as proper labeling requirements that provide consumers with “unambiguous, factual, understandable and objective information on the product label” (Pinckaers, 2017b).

The second main driver in the Dutch food market is the health of the consumers. There is pressure from the Dutch consumers to make products with an improved product composition that allows consumers to follow a healthy diet in order to reduce obesity rates (RIVM National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, 2017). The third driver is competiveness of the food manufacturing industry within the Netherlands, this includes promoting innovation within the industry as well as competition (Pinckaers, 2017b).

The final driver of the food market in the Netherlands is sustainability within the manufacturing companies. This driver is moving towards having a sustainable business model which includes working with partners at different stages within the supply chain (Pinckaers, 2017b).

Many European countries are seeing the trend of an increase in private label food products. The Netherlands had a private label market share of 29% in 2016 (Pinckaers, 2017a). The Dutch food processing industry is valued at 65 billion euros, meaning they are a very established market for food processing (Pinckaers, 2017b). This opens up many opportunities to potentially process blueberry and maple products within the Netherlands as private label.

3.5 Consumers by Country

Although both contained in close proximity to one another and both within the European Union, the Netherlands and Belgium both have very unique aspects which make them very different from one another. These can include everything from cultural, economic, and social differences and trends that may lead consumers to ultimately make different purchasing choices and decisions.

3.5.1 Belgium Consumer

Many Belgians do not like in Urban areas and prefer to live in the suburbs which means that a vast majority of the population commutes to work daily. There is a strong anti-urbanization mentality as many Belgians wish to own a house with a yard (Euromonitor International, 2016a).

Making online purchases is a growing trend in Belgium and because they officially speak three languages they are able to shop in neighbouring countries of The Netherlands and France and actually prefer to do their shopping on those websites (Euromonitor International, 2016a). This falls in line with a trend among Flemish consumers to purchase food that has an ease of use as well as can be consumed at the moment of the consumer's choice, that there doesn't need to be any preparation in order to eat (Platteau, et al, 2017).  With both of these trends there is the common theme of convenience and ease of use which can be further highlighted with the trend that Belgian youth are FIND STATS

Belgians consume a large number of calories a day at approximately 3, 894 in 2015, which is 700 calories more than the average Dutch consumer (Euromonitor International, 2016a). This is directly correlated with Belgium food consumption not being in line with the countries nutritional recommendation by the government (European Commission, 2015). The caloric intake recommendation by the Belgian government is set at 0000 (FIND). There are efforts made by the Belgian government to promote healthy eating and living through publications available online which include a food triangle (Vlaams Instituut Gezond Leven, 2017a) as well as an exercise triangle (Vlaams Instituut Gezond Leven, 2017b). Two contributing factors to this are that food in Belgium is 109% cost of the European average and fast food that is dense in calories is readily available for consumers to purchase (Euromonitor International, 2016a). Another way that consumers in Belgium are consuming their calories is through drinks, with (European Commission, 2015)

Although there have been trends in the past that led to the statistics mentioned on caloric consumption and bad eating habits, there has also more recently been towards more conscious, healthy eating by Belgian consumers (Euromonitor International, 2016a). Between 2010 – 2015 both vegetables and fruits have seen an increase in per capita consumption by 7.3kg and 1.4kg respectively (Euromonitor International, 2016a). Flemish consumers are also seeking out more “natural” foods that contain less additives and preferably foods that are local and organic. With this trend, consumers are also looking more towards sustainably produced food with the main focus being animal welfare, fish production, and fair trade (Platteau, et al, 2017).  

Using food to increase health is also a rising trend among Flemish consumers due to rising rates of obesity and lifestyle diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, which are on the rise in Belgium. Functional foods, such as super fruits and vitamin tablets that contain potentially health promoting components (Platteau, et al, 2017).. There has been research conducted however, that shows Belgium consumers are reluctant to believe that health promises of these functional foods (FIND STUDY).

Age Composition:

Figure 1  (Central Intelligence Agency, 2017)

Figure 1 shows the population of Belgium broken down by age composition. An important fact to mention in regard to age composition and Belgium is that there has been a strong increase in population and in turn the amount of children in the country. (Euromonitor International, 2016).

3.5.2 The Netherlands Consumer

Dutch consumers from 2010-2015 have shown less-than-robust confidence in the products that they are purchasing. They are very considerate when making their food purchases especially with money in mind, this is displayed by one of the main trends in the country of purchasing at discount retail food shops. An increase in income for the consumer does not necessarily dictate them purchasing food at a more expensive grocery store rather than the discount store (Euromonitor International, 2016b). Dutch consumers are also moving towards the trend of online shopping with a high-quality experience with a reliable delivery method (Pinckaers, 2017a).

It has also been observed that between 2010 and 2014 there was a decrease in household spending in regard to food (Central Bureau voor de Statistiek, 2012). The Dutch went out to eat less during this period and stayed home to eat more. () FIND STATS FROM FOOD BASKET. This trend did recently see a shift however with people starting to spend more on eating out and other occasions. Regardless of income, Dutch consumers tend to spend approximately the same percentage of money on food in a household (Central Bureau voor de Statistiek, 2012).

Tea is the main drink of choice for many Dutch consumers with it being recommended that you drink five cups of tea per day to prevent cardiovascular disease by the Dutch Health Council (Euromonitor International, 2016b). The Netherlands is also the fourth largest importer of tea within the EU, after the UK, Poland, and Germany. Since 2011, tea imports within the Netherlands have increased at approx. 1.6% annually. It is also being observed that the imports have changed from being sourced from developing countries and are now being imported from other European countries more frequently (CBI Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2016a).

Vegetarianism has become mainstream in the Dutch society due to consumers being more conscious of issues like sustainability, animal welfare, and health (Euromonitor International, 2016b). FIND DUTCH STATS ON THIS

The age composition of the Dutch population is displayed in the chart below and it can be seen that there is a large number of people between the ages of 25-54 years of age, as well as they, have an increasingly aging population of 65 years and older (Central Intelligence Agency, 2017).

Age Composition:

Figure 2  (Central Intelligence Agency, 2017)

Consumer Preferences

In the case of Dutch food consumption, the factors that play into a consumer's choices for consumption determinants are at the level of the individual, the social environment, the physical environment, and the macro-level environment. This is important in order to understand all of the different factors that are persuading consumers one way or another in regard to a certain product (Geurts et al, 2017).

On average a Dutch consumer will eat approximately 21 different varieties of food in the run of a regular day. Of this food consumed, approximately 68% of that is beverages which include alcoholic, non-alcoholic, and milk products. Sugar and confectionary foods, and cakes and sweet biscuit categories tended also to be for in between meals (C.T.M. van Rossum et al, 2016). Compared to other European countries Dutch adults are ranked among the highest for their consumption of alcoholic, non-alcoholic, dairy products, snacks & desserts, sugar confectionary, and fats, however, conversely they are ranked among the lowest for consumption of eggs, legumes, fish and fruit (Geurts et al, 2017). The Dutch consumers do tend to eat more fruit, nuts, and olives during the in between meals, which is to say not breakfast, lunch, or dinner (C.T.M. van Rossum et al, 2016).

Dairy, meat, and vegetables that are purchased by Dutch consumers are predominately produced in the Netherlands. In the case of fruit, it is mostly imported from other European countries, however, there is a trend in more “exotic” fruits that you cannot normally purchase from those countries (Geurts et al, 2017).

An important trend currently happening in the Netherlands is also the convenience food sector. Dutch consumers have recently been a part of a trend of a decline in preparation time of foods, which is supported by more ready-to-eat meals in supermarkets (Geurts et al, 2017). Most of the consumption done by the Dutch population is conducted at home rather than at a restaurant or work, approximately 80% (van Rossum et al, 2016).

It is very common in the Netherlands to purchase goods online, this trend is also observed with online food purchases. There was a 9% increase from 2012-2016 with the most growing consumer group in that category being users aged 65 and over. The age category of 24-44 showed the biggest market share for online shopping, however. The value of sales of food products being bought online has more than doubled since 2012, with the most common purchases still being in the categories of trips, clothing, and tickets for events (Central Bureau voor de Statistiek, 2016).

40% of Dutch people surveyed by the Central Bureau of Statistics in the Netherlands indicated that they look for new food suppliers by first researching them online, 35% have used various apps or online resources to compare products and prices of different companies (Central Bureau voor de Statistiek, 2016).

3.6 Trade & Trade Barriers

Assessing the viability of a potential market can assist companies to make a decision of whether or not to export their product to that particular market or not. An important measure for this decision is to assess the tariff and non-tariff trade barriers of the market you are looking to enter (FIND CITE). Due to the fact that the Netherlands and Belgium are both located within the EU this section will include trade barriers for both countries. If there is information that is particular to one country that will be displayed.

Belgium

The Netherlands

Just as there are slight differences within the Belgian market there are also slight differences within the Dutch market as well. Some of these market entry barriers that are particular to the Netherlands are (CBI Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2016b):

- Obtaining the proper food safety certifications in order to sell within the market.  

- CSR is becoming increasingly important to consumers in terms of product quality requirements.

- There would normally be barriers of tariff prices (taxes on specific products) however, with the introduction of CETA, the tariff barrier is completely mitigated.

- Ethical and sustainable certification schemes are also becoming more important to buyers in the Dutch market.

Other Barriers

Globalization has made it so that access to international markets is now easier than ever which gives consumers greater access to foreign products (Rezvani, et al, 2012). Because consumers are paying more attention to this factors such as growth of competition, increasing products available to purchase, and the power of consumerism, product sourcing and in turn, country of origin labeling should be carefully considered (Kalicharan, 2014). Country-of-Origin labeling is used as a cue externally for consumers to assess the product quality, however, other factors of the product are equally as important to those purchasing the products (Kalicharan, 2014). Country-of-Origin labeling is used as a cue externally for consumers to assess the product quality, however, other factors of the product are equally as important to those purchasing the products (Harrychand, 2014).

Another important factor to consider when entering a new international market in the “Halo Effect”. This principle states that consumers will have a particular bias towards one product or service will influence how they feel about similar products and services (Rippleout Marketing, 2014). It is important to remember this when entering new markets because the common bias' that may be present in consumers in the country the product is produced in may be completely different in nature to those in a new market. Patriotism, or how much devotion one shows to their own country, is also an important fact to consider as well when entering a new market. Depending on what is already produced in that country or how that country feels about another country can have adverse effects on the purchasing decisions of the customers in the potential export market (Rezvani, et al, 2012).

4. Research Methods

4.1 Sampling Methods

In order to obtain the proper information necessary to complete the research for this project qualitative methods are being used to reach the objectives indicated in Chapter 1 and again below. The qualitative method of a literature review will be used to gain the necessary information on exporting blueberry and maple value-added products to the Benelux region.

The objectives will be reached by conducting research in the appropriate categories which are listed in the literature review. Publications from the three countries governments will be very pertinent to use and should give key information for those markets.

Although this report will discuss consumer preference of the maple and blueberry value-added products, a survey will not be conducted. This is due to the research being conducted in Nova Scotia and a survey to the Benelux region would be too difficult with the time and money constraints available to do this research. With that being said, both the Dutch and Belgian governments publish sufficient information in regard to their consumers in order to draw reasonable conclusions about the consumers in those countries.

4.2 Data Analysis

For a company to properly asses the environment in which they are conducted business, a great tool to use is a SWOT analysis. SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats within the business environment. These four categories are further broken by putting assessing the strengths and weaknesses internally for your company and the threats and opportunities are assessed externally (Houben, et al, 1999).

While assessing each of the four areas for a SWOT analysis it is also important to assess the short and long term goals and effects (Houben, et al, 1999).

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