Green Week 2015: "Latvia - Take Your Time"
Presentation by partner country Latvia features a pure environment and healthy foodstuffs
Berlin, 13 October 2014 - “Latvia – take your time” is the call to all visitors by the partner country at the International Green Week Berlin 2015. The Baltic state has been a participant in the world’s largest exhibition for agriculture, food and horticulture since 1992. During the first six months of next year Latvia will assume the presidency of the Council of the European Union. Next year marks a significant anniversary when, from 16 to 25 January, the Green Week will be taking place for the 80th time at the Berlin ExpoCenter City on the city’s exhibition grounds. Latvia will be staging its largest ever display at this event, featuring its entire range of typical regional specialities. Examples include the country’s famous sprats, and honey, a highly successful Latvian export that is particularly popular in Germany.
Exports and imports – offering great potential for the future
Together with eggs and dairy products, in 2013 exports of honey were valued at over 39 million euros. This contrasts with a steady decline in demand for cereals by Germany. Whereas in 2012 exports still amounted to 95.4 million euros, by 2013 this figure had fallen to only 29.3 million euros. The largest increase, by 125 per cent, was accounted for by fruit and nuts, with exports currently valued at 2.7 million euros.
Latvia imports substantial quantities of beverages from Germany: primarily wine (48 %), followed by spirits (44 %). Imports of these products rose by 13 per cent in 2013. There has also been an increase in imports of so-called semi-finished products intended for use in food processing – from 14.5 to 20.6 million euros, while imports of coffee, tea and spices fell. Their book value amounted to 5.8 million euros, a 44.2 per cent decrease. The total value of exports of goods by Latvia to Germany in 2012 amounted to over 211 million euros, resulting in a positive balance of trade (imports had a value of just under 165 mi. euros). Since 2013 and also during the first months of the following year, however, the balance of trade has taken a negative course. Imports of goods with a value of 177.87 million euros contrast with exports of 119.67 million.
Fish and forests – in great demand
Latvia is also seeking to make its guests at the Green Week more aware of the country’s many natural attractions, including the Latvian coastline. Stretching for 494 kilometres, equivalent to the distance between Berlin and Dortmund, it alternates between white sands, the famous rocky coast, bluffs and beach-side meadows. Fishing and fish processing have traditionally been an important economic sector, and over half of the fish products that are exported consist of “Rīgas šprotes” – the world-renowned Latvian sprats.
Latvia is the fourth most forested country in Europe. In years gone by many of the ships that sailed the world’s seas were built of Latvian timber, and the country’s pine was known the world over. Nowadays it is birch wood from Latvia that has become internationally known, used in modern cars and in oil tankers, as well as in the construction and furniture industries. The most prominent user of Latvian birch is probably Prince George, the son of the British heir to the throne Prince William and his wife Kate, who received a rocking horse made of Latvian birch to mark his birth. Latvia practices sustainable forestry, which not only safeguards timber production but also ensures the availability of numerous different forms of outdoor recreation and leisure activities. The Tervete nature park with its picturesque woodlands is one of the most poplar destinations for tourists with children, for naturalists and in fact for everyone seeking recreation in natural surroundings.
Ecology and organic production – a perfect combination
A pure natural environment and productive land provide Latvia’s farmers with the basis for the production of ecologically pure foodstuffs, from cereals to dairy and meat products. Latvia is proud of the quality and value of its products, many of which are organically grown. Traditional methods combined with modern technology ensure high quality standards. Anyone who is keen to learn about Latvian traditions should try meat or fish that has been smoked the old-fashioned way over alder wood.
The best-known Latvian dish consists of chickpeas cooked with bacon and onions, which is also very popular with tourists, while rye bread has long been the pride of the country’s cuisine. Latvian rye bread has its own distinctive flavour and an aroma found nowhere else in the world. With a wide range of recipes Latvian rye bread is an indispensable accompaniment to entrees, desserts or drinks.
Berries and honey – some tasty innovations
The berries and fruits that grow in Latvia are particularly rich in vitamins. Latvia is a leading supplier of cranberries and, served in icing sugar, they are world-renowned. Latvian honey is also legendary and, given the diversity of wild plants, the choice is
almost limitless. Moreover, a growing number of beekeepers are combining various types of honey with berries and other ingredients, thereby creating completely new flavours.
Of course, Latvians and Germans can argue who makes the best beer, because both countries brew many tasty and quaffable varieties. But instead of arguing it is better to get together and enjoy the beer, which is also a national drink in Latvia, where it is especially popular in midsummer. It is served with cheese, dried fish, sausages and smoked meat, often accompanied by toasted bread flavoured with garlic. Because Latvians like their own beer so much, 95 per cent of the country’s production is consumed domestically and only five per cent is exported, to the disappointment of German beer drinkers. For this reason alone it is worth seeking out Latvia at the Green Week, because only those who have tasted the beer are qualified to talk about it.
Tourism and enjoyment – a holiday for all the senses
Once you have acquired a taste for Latvia you will want to come and discover it all for yourself. Any time of year is ideal, because each season is very different. In winter the snow can be shaken off the larch branches and there is the typical Latvian spring drink to be enjoyed – freshly drawn birch sap. Spring is the time for watching the storks, there must be more of them in Latvia than anywhere else. In summer the beaches are very inviting, and one can walk barefoot on the white sand, acquiring a good appetite for freshly smoked fish from wandering for miles in the healthy sea air. Autumn is a magical time too, when the first frosts and mists lay like a protective blanket over the newly harvested fields and meadows. Rural tourism is the best way to discover the real, unspoiled Latvia, to feel the effects of the leisurely, relaxing rhythm of nature, and to experience the country’s delicacies and the hospitality of its people.
The International Green Week 2015 will provide a foretaste of all the things that make Latvia so unique: from dairy products to rye bread, honey, fruit and vegetables, as well as meat, fish and beer. Everything is available to sample, and if money is in short supply, Latvia can “help” too: Latvijas Banka is displaying coins whose designs are highly regarded in Europe. And Latvijas Pasts is also marking the Green Week by issuing a special postage stamp.
So there are many good reasons for taking time for Latvia, in Hall 8.2 at the International Green Week 2015, and in Latvia at any time.
Press contact for the partner country Latvia:
Bernd Schwintowski • Schwintowski | Communications •
tel. +49 (0)30 30 100 100 •firstname.lastname@example.org
Messe Berlin GmbH
Michael T. Hofer
Group Press and
Public Relations Director www.messe-berlin.de
Deputy Press Spokesman
F +49 303038-2287
Dr. Christian Göke (CEO)
Chairman of the Supervisory Board: Peter Zühlsdorff
Companies Register: Amtsgericht
(District Court) Charlottenburg, HRB 5484 B
German Farmers’ Union (DBV)
Dr. Michael Lohse
T. +49(0)30 319 04 239
Federation of German Food and Drink Industries (BVE)
T +49 30 200786 135