International Conference/ Seminar for the Creation of Balkan Regional Center of Food Science and Technology Transfer

During the month of May 6–8, 2003 in the city of Plovdiv, Bulgaria it was held an organizational conference and working seminar with the purpose to support the idea of the Institute of Horticulture and Canned Foods related to the creation of a regional center for the food studies and development for South and Eastern Europe. The establishment of this center is Bulgarian-American initiative which is a result of a joint scientific project in the field of food technologies between the University of Georgia, USA and the Institute of Horticulture and Canned Foods, with the support of the American Agency for International Development (USAID – Peanut CRSP).
For the support of the idea it has been present representatives of Envoy, USAID Peanut CRSP, University of Georgia, USA; Department of food Science and Technology, University of Georgia, USA; Department of Agriculture and Applied Economics, University of Georgia, USA; ARO, Volcani Center, Israel; VNIKOP, Russia; Faculty of Food Technology and Biotechnology, University of Zagreb, Croatia; Faculty of Agriculture, University of Skopje, Macedonia; IS ICSPTSA, Moldova; Institute of Food Research – Laboratory for Fermentation Technologies and Cold in Food Industry, Romania; VNIPKI “Konservpromcomplex”, Ukraina.

The working seminar has found out that:
- there is a wide gap in the generation of new knowledge and advanced technologies for processing of food products and utilization of these technologies by the food processing industry to meet the consumer needs and preferences in the region;
n there is inadequate information available to develop legislation in countries in the Region for processing food products and delivery of these products to the consumers (domestically or internationally) from the standpoint of food safety and quality, and marketing strategies. Furthermore, there is a lack of harmonization in the food law regulations necessary for increased marketing efficiencies between countries;
- there is an absence of a Regional Research and Technology Transfer Center to address the above issues, to collect and store information, disseminate information, and transfer technologies to the food industry within the Region.

After discussions, the conference has defined the following objectives:
- obtain basic and applied knowledge using modern research techniques and develop a knowledge base – in the best interest of the consumers and the food industry – targeted towards:
a) food safety, security, and quality
b) food product development
c) food storage, distribution, and marketing
d) ecological sustainability;
accelerate the dissemination of modern knowledge and advanced technologies for the food industry within the countries of the Region to meet the requirements for export;
- create a strong professional and scientific organization of the food science and technology professionals in the Region leading to a Regional International Section of the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT, Chicago, USA) for continuous transfer of scientific, technological and marketing technologies to and from the food industry in the Region, and activities:
- scientific investigations within the framework of nationally and internationally financed projects, that would include collaborative research efforts;
- training and education of food science and technology and related professionals at non-degree (such as in collaborative workshops or seminars) and advanced (graduate) degree levels;
- food certification laboratory in the Center to train staff of laboratories in the Region to certify food products for domestic use or export;
- forum for development and submission of grant proposals to granting entities for support of the Center activities, and develop a process for member countries to financially support training or other activities as appropriate;
- organize and conduct periodic conferences of Center;
- utilize scientific expertise and infrastructure in the Region to assist in Center activities;
- elicit interest, financial and scientific support from institutions of other countries outside the region such as in the United States and Israel.
The organizational conference has completed its work by signing a framework agreement, on the basis of which to continue the administrative and organizational building of the Center. These and other functions associated with the structure, the financing and the functioning of the Center have been assigned to the Director of the Institute of Horticulture and Canned Foods – Plovdiv.

Yordan Yordanov, Ph.D.
Institute of Horticulture and Canned Foods – Plovdiv, Bulgaria