Sustainable cocoa and coffee

CREA: fair and sustainable products from Ecuador for the European market

May 2, 2023

The CREA project promotes strategies to strengthen and improve the sustainability, competitiveness, innovation and integration in the European market of micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) and organisations of Ecuadorian producers, generating income and employment and the inclusion of young people and women. CREA is led by Rikolto, in partnership with with Asociación Nacional de Fabricantes de Alimentos y Bebidas (ANFAB), Cooperación al Desarrollo de Países Emergentes (COSPE), Escuela Superior Plitécnica del Litoral (ESPOL) and KU Leuven. This project is funded by the European Union.

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Ecuador & Europe

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6,336 farmer families (45% women, 30% young people)

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What's at stake?

In Europe, there is currently a trend indicating that consumers prefer environmentally and socially sustainable food which guarantees fair prices and inclusive models. This preference represents an opportunity for the Ecuadorian agri-food sector in a potential market of approximately 500 million inhabitants in 27 countries.

The initiative, which is funded by the European Union (EU) and implemented by Rikolto, COSPE, ANFAB KU Leuven and ESPOL, addresses the challenge of linking Ecuadorian supply and European demand for sustainable products, improving competitiveness in the agri-food sector and generating opportunities and the inclusion of the vulnerable population.

“We seek to foster an inclusive and resilient agri-food sector in the face of increasingly pressing crises, and together with our partners, the support of the EU and public and private entities, we will facilitate access to the European market for sustainable products.”

Johanna Renckens

CREA Project Manager | Rikolto

Matching supply and demand for sustainable products

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Our approach

Within the CREA project, 8 chains have been selected: avocado, cocoa, coffee, banana, plantain, soursop, guayusa and quinoa. This selection was made in line with the current trade agreement with the EU and the trends related to the Green Deal. Explore the products.

We focus on strengthening the organisational structures of MSMEs and producer associations, on socio-entrepreneurial management, on sustainable production processes and value addition, and on the application of green technologies, among others. Linking supply and demand will also require training, dissemination and technical assistance so that the trends and requirements of the European Union for the entry of sustainable products are known locally. At the same time, we will work towards enabling international promotion at fairs, trade missions and the identification of trade opportunities for small producers in order to generate exports, contributing to and improving economic and working conditions.

Innovation, research, sustainability and inclusion are the four key components of the CREA project.

  • Innovation: to increase the competitiveness of the agri-food export sector by improving sustainability, product quality and the commercial and logistical management of MSMEs and producer organisations.
  • Research: on green technology, the environmental footprint, cadmium reduction and other related issues. We support links between academia, farmers and other support organisations. This will broaden the opportunities for integration into Europe’s growing market for sustainable products.
  • Sustainability: besides identifying sustainable markets for the prioritised value chains, we will also strengthen the digital platform Ecuador Agroalimentario as a place to showcase Ecuadorian products. In parallel, we will work with public and private stakeholders to move towards an enabling environment for exports of producer organisations and MSMEs grouped in Ecuador Agroalimentario.
  • Inclusion: we want to create more opportunities in the agri-food sector for vulnerable situations by increasing their capacities and skills. MSMEs and associations account for 95% of productive units in Ecuador and generate 60% of employment in the agri-food sector. Furthermore, they have a large redistributive potential as well as the ability to create jobs and adapt to changing circumstances. The inclusion of women, young people, vulnerable populations and migrants is one of the driving forces behind the project which, in addition to meeting the sustainability standards required by European markets, promotes alternatives for these population groups in an inclusive and sustainable manner.
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As of November 2022, the selected MSMEs and producers are undergoing a continual diagnostic process, which will be used to generate specific action plans and targeted support in accordance with the project’s objectives.

Furthermore, we have established synergies with Ecuador’s Ministry of Agriculture and Production. We have also begun approaching supermarkets, chambers of commerce and other European organisations, which will allow us to open spaces for sustainable products from prioritised chains.

“We will encourage the promotion of Ecuadorian products from producer organisations and MSMEs at international trade fairs to generate short, medium and long-term commercial opportunities and foster exports that promote the development of our production chains.”

Luis Soria

CREA Project Business Management Coordinator | Rikolto

Who do we work with?

CREA is led by Rikolto and implemented in association by the Cooperation for the Development of Emerging Countries (COSPE), the National Association of Food and Beverage Manufacturers (ANFAB), the Catholic University of Leuven (KU Leuven) and the Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral (ESPOL). In addition, FAO, CONGOPE, ANECACAO, ASEMEC, the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Ecuador CCIE and the French Ecuadorian Chamber of Commerce CCIE will contribute to the project with their experience in the agri-food sector in Ecuador and Europe.

KU Leuven


Johanna Renckens

CREA project manager

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