France’s ban on cherry imports from countries where the pesticide Dimethoate is used has left fruit importers and traders fearing the country may soon apply similar bans involving other EU-approved pesticides or chemicals, according to a report by the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS).
Should their fears come true, this would be akin to a
“de-facto shutting down the free movement of EU and third-country fruits and vegetables into France,” the report says.
While US cherry exports to France will be prohibited this year, due to the Dimethoate ban, on the positive side for US cherry exporters is that France’s production is likely to be impacted by the ban on the pesticide – the French cherry crop is likely to be smaller and pricier – thus creating opportunities for France’s competitors in the EU, such as the UK, the report says.
“On April 22, 2016, France temporarily banned the import and sales of cherries imported from countries where the chemical product dimethoate can be used on cherries and cherry trees. It follows the ban of its use for domestic production. Dimethoate was used to fight Drosphila suzukii, an Asian fruit fly which causes considerable damages in cherry orchards but is suspected by France of being dangerous to human health.
“France imports roughly one fifth of its consumption, the bulk coming from EU countries including some (such as Spain, Italy and Spain) that have already banned dimethoate. The French prohibition will de facto suspend imports of cherries from the United States, valued at around $1 million annually.
On the other hand, as France’s production is likely to be impacted by the ban on the pesticide, French cherries are likely to be scarcer and more expensive, creating opportunities for competitors on traditional French export markets such as the UK.”
Overview of French cherry production and trade
France is a minor producer of cherries in the EU and its production has been declining steadily over the past few years. Most of its cherry production is concentrated in the country’s south and southwest. Its cherry exports go mostly to neighboring countries, such as Germany, Belgium and the UK.
A net importer of cherries, the bulk of France’s imports come from the EU (Spain, Belgium, and Germany) and Turkey. Chile is the main supplier of winter cherries.
The US has a niche market in France for late summer cherries (from mid- July to August) and French imports of US cherries (mainly from Oregon and Washington) are valued at about $ 1 million annually. It should also be noted that about half the cherries listed as imported from Netherlands are in fact US or Canadian cherries that cleared customs in that country.