#HOTCS: Andree Cooligan, Helsinki

“There was a shipment of Saskatoon berry plants from Canada stuck at the border in the United Kingdom. The shipment wasn’t being allowed into the EU because it was determined to be a novel food to Europe. So, the company in Saskatchewan gets this information from the freight forwarder, and after having a panic attack because the plants are fragile, he calls our Trade Commissioner (TC) in London. And then that person, because it was an EU issue, checked with our TC in Brussels, who sent an email to every TC covering agriculture and food in Europe, asking if anybody had any ideas on this problem. I was the Senior TC in Helsinki at the time, and one of my local TCs, Seppo Vihersaari, called the historical plant societies, the botanical gardens, he did all this digging about this Saskatoon berry, and we solved it! We found out that not only was the Saskatoon berry not novel to Europe, it won the Berry of the Year in 1971. So you can imagine, the plants died in the UK, but we won the case – the Canadian product was being rejected for improper reasons – and the market opened up and stayed open.

This is how the Trade Commissioner Service works. This is a network of Trade Commissioners who are connected by phone, or by email, or by skype, or by video conference, and they work together across sectors.”

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