On April 12 and 13, the Youth Empowerment Project (YEP) in partnership with The Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) organized a two-day packaging conference as part of side events of the annual Trade Fair Gambia international held at the independence stadium in Bakau. The conference explored packaging as a tool to boost company sales, sustainable jobs for youth, traceability & barcoding and how local products can be sold in local supermarkets.

Mr. Couty, Senior ITC Adviser on packaging highlighted the importance for products to meet the standards and protect them from exposure and contamination. The challenge faced by supermarkets is the poor packaging by processors. "It is always important for the producers to know their customers and create package based on customer requirements and to stop copying ideas from other countries”. Mr. Couty also mentioned the relevance to use sources available in The Gambia to promote homemade products and save costs. Additionally, he pointed out that the graphic design of products needs to be appealing to attract customers and convince for sales.

Mr. Lamin Jaiteh, the principal Scientific Officer of the Food Safety and Quality Authority of The Gambia (FSQA) emphasised the need for manufacturers to have correct bar codes on their products. “The GS1 Global traceability standard defines a minimum set of traceability requirements within business processes to achieve full chain tracking record, independent of any technology. The standard allows an end-to-end traceability system linking the flow of information to physical products”.

The two-day convergence brought together stakeholders in the packaging industry, private sector and entrepreneurs to discuss and map out ways of improving the visibility of their products thus increasing sales. Packaging is considered an investment rather than a cost, because it is a key driver for sales. Experts affirm that packaging allows brands to speak. Even before the product does that, people view packaging as part of the product and experience. Customers are willing to pay more for products that are well packaged. During the event, assistants were advised to build brands around packaging, and to increase coordination and collaboration among SMEs, designers and printers to ensure that the value of packaging improve

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