On the occasion of the two-day conference of the European Commission on the Agri-food promotion policy review (12-13 July 2021), Freshfel Europe called on Europe’s authorities to build on the momentum of the policy developments emerging from the Green Deal, the Farm to Fork Strategy, and the EU Beating Cancer Plan to promote fresh fruit and vegetables as part of the solution to climatic and health challenges. The aim is to shape an even stronger, more efficient, and better-funded policy to support European fresh fruit and vegetables to boost fresh fruit and vegetables consumption over the minimum WHO threshold of 400 gr/capita/day while also improving the competitiveness of EU fresh produce for exports to third-country markets.
The momentum to significantly stimulate production, trade and consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables is stronger than ever. COVID-19 pandemic has led consumers to include more fresh produce in their diets to boost their health and immune system. The United Nation’s celebration of 2021 as the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables is the perfect time for Freshfel Europe and the fruit and vegetables sector to speak up for the fresh produce sector and highlight the health and environmental benefits of fresh fruit and vegetables. The strong policy initiatives that started in 2018 through the Tartu Call for a Healthy Lifestyle and signed by three European Commissioners further contribute to the momentum. The Declaration has now been converted into more concrete policy initiatives where fruit and vegetables are considered as part of the solutions to current societal challenges, such as climate change and non-communicable diseases. This is well reflected in the ambitions and strategy of the Green Deal, the Farm to Fork Strategy, the EU Beating Cancer Plan, the upcoming reform of the fruit and vegetable School Scheme, and, most importantly, the current discussion on the reform of the promotion policy with clear views of Freshfel Europe on the relevance of this policy for fresh produce.
Freshfel Europe General Delegate Philippe Binard said:
“More than ever before there is a momentum to change things significantly. Fruit and vegetables are only granted 3 to 4% of EU agricultural policy budget while contributing to 20% to the European agricultural value. In comparison, the meat sector received up to 53% of coupled agricultural support and milk and dairy 21%. It is time to spend agriculture budget more in line with societal expectations both from a health and environmental perspective. Fruit and vegetables are among the food baskets the products that best respond to these two ambitions. As the European Union is moving towards sustainable food production and consumption model, fruit and vegetables are an important component contributing to secure this ambition.”
For more than 20 years , the sector has embarked in sustainable methods of production, using Integrated Production Method, precision farming and good agriculture practice, strict controls of plant protection usage, rigorous water management, minimizing packaging and many other initiatives to cope with environmental, social and economic sustainability. On the climate and environmental side, fruit and vegetables production are among the agriculture category with the lost CO2 emissions, good record in regard to energy and water usage, protection of biodiversity and restrictive usage of plant protection products and fertilizers. On the health side, the diversity of fruit and vegetables contributes to a healthy diet, full of fibres, vitamins, and nutrients which are important assets for a healthy lifestyle and prevention of many diseases based on a wealth of scientific studies.