What is Jordan Food Week?
Jordan Food Week (JFW) is a week-long festival that promotes the quality, diversity, and culture of Jordanian cuisine, by showcasing artisanal foods produced from different regions in Jordan in addition to encouraging new, innovative ways of cooking Jordanian food.
Jordan Food Week was held from 18-24 July 2018 at the Ras El Ein Hangar in Amman, Jordan. Over the course of seven (7) days, more than 25,000 people visited the event including locals, expats, and tourists.
Jordan Food Week was organized with the goal of raising the profile of Jordanian Food, which allows consumer and buyer demand to respond by purchasing more locally produced goods, products and services. The design of Jordan Food Week was based on the concept of linking home-based businesses from local communities around Jordan to markets that have higher purchasing power. The main objectives of JFW were to:
- Create new, sustainable private sector linkages between restaurants, retailers and artisanal producers.
- Increase demand for the locally made, home-based business food products.
- Demonstrate to home-based businesses that there is potential in expanding and growing their business beyond selling products to the small circle of friends and acquaintances.
- Offer the first major consumer preference and demand-side survey to participating restaurants and businesses
- Encourage a “buy local” culture in Jordan.
Why Jordan Food Week?
USAID LENS has been supporting micro and small enterprise (MSEs) working in the food-processing sector in Jordan since 2015 for their great role in strengthening local economies.
Jordan's rich and diverse heritage in food, which is mostly represented by local women - primarily running Home-based Businesses in communities across the country – could become a driver of local economic growth.
Therefore, USAID LENS began designing and investing in technical and financial interventions that would help these communities grow. The Project built its programs around value chain analyses that could pinpoint the economic barriers to growth for these businesses and address them through an integrated support structure and end-to-end services.
USAID LENS found that the markets with the purchasing power in Jordan to buy artisanal food are dominated by imported products. Even in instances in which Jordanian products far exceed the quality and consistency of imported goods, buyers seldom stock and sell local artisanal food in Jordan.
There are several overarching reasons including poor branding and packaging, little marketing know-how, weak legal framework that prevents home-based businesses and artisanal home-producers to grow, lack of awareness of the market potential of artisanal food production and the availability of Jordanian food.
Therefore, with the aim of driving up the volume and value of transactions in local communities, USAID LENS carried out different activities and interventions including- but not limited to: home-based business
training; supporting them with marketing, branding and packaging challenges, easing of the business registration and licensing process; improvement of policy related to licensing of home-based businesses
and most recently, Jordan Food Week.
Jordan Food Week is the most significant “demand-driven” activity of the Project’s lifetime.
USAID LENS has facilitated business linkages between larger, mostly Amman-based restaurants and hotels with the Project’s home-based business beneficiaries to foster direct business relationships and revenue increase. Around 35 restaurants took part in JFW by selling food cooked on the spot and have purchased and integrated products from USAID LENS’ home-based business beneficiaries in their offerings during the event.
Over 80 home-based businesses took part in Jordan Food Week, whether as direct exhibitors selling their products at the event or selling their products beforehand to restaurants who incorporated them into the foods they served.
This means more than 80 of the Project’s beneficiaries have increased revenues from Jordan Food Week alone. For exhibitors residing in rural and semi-urban areas outside of Amman, Jordan Food Week gave them an unparalleled opportunity to sell their products to a large market with high purchasing power, and for many of the Project’s MSE beneficiaries -whether home-based businesses or small-scale producers in rural areas- this represented the only or one of very few times they have connected with, and sold their products to a business outside of their circle of acquaintances or local area. This in turn is a catalyst for their business growth and maturity.
USAID LENS conducted an in-person survey throughout Jordan Food Week to get key insights on the event from a participant’s point of view, which will be used to understand customer behavior and satisfaction, food preferences among different demographics, and interests in future food innovations. Key finding included the following:
- Jordan Food Week 2018 attracted 24,655 visitors over the course of seven days. 17,821 of these were paying adults, the rest is split between accompanying children and guest invitees.
- 55% of the event visitors were females, 45% were males.
- 97% of visitors expressed satisfaction with the event. On average, visitors were also very satisfied with the food taste, packaging, and diversity of offerings.
- Dairy products were the most commonly purchased food products, followed by meals, sweets, preserved foods and honey.
On 2 September 2018, Her Majesty Queen Rania met with 15 female artisanal food producers who participated in Jordan Food Week 2018, most of which are USAID LENS beneficiaries who received the Home-Based Businesses Upgrade training or have received other types of support from the Project. During the meeting, the home-based business owners showcased samples of their food products, which were featured at Jordan Food Week.
Jordan Food Week was designed to be a sustainable initiative that will be held on an annual or bi-annual basis through local organizations and entities.