The European Commission (EC) has recently appointed the five centres or consortiums that will serve as European Reference Laboratories (EURL) in the field of plant health. These entities will be responsible for performing the analyses to confirm possible positive by pests and diseases from the samples taken in the ports to the horticultural imports of third countries or phytosanitary controls in the field. Well, despite the evident strategic importance of such designations, the Ministry of Agriculture has not presented candidatures in favour of any Spanish centre.
Spain’s CGC bemoans country’s "irrelevance" in plant health and accuses IVIA of turning its back on the export sector
Rocketing lemon and small citrus imports to Spain from outside EU
Concerns have been raised in Spain as a result of the country’s rising imports of citrus fruit from third countries. While arrivals of oranges fell in 2018 by 11% to 83,031 tons, lemon imports rocketed 78% to 71,835 tons, and receipts of small citrus soared 361% to 7,709 tons. In the framework of the Better Regulation Agenda, the EU Commission conducts economic and environmental impact assessments prior to any trade negotiation to identify possible problems and the best course of action.
The prospects for the EU fruit and vegetable sector
According to the European Parliament Think Tank, fruit and vegetables represented around 14% of the total value of the EU's agricultural production in 2018. All EU Member States produce at least a few types of fruit and vegetables, with apples and tomatoes the main products of the continent. This sector is of particular importance in the Mediterranean region and in some northern and eastern European countries. Most EU farms are small-sized with relatively high labour input. Incomes for fruit specialists are rated as average, while the earnings of horticulture specialists can be very high.
64% of Europeans eat fruit at least once a day
A study has found that in 2017, 27% of Europeans ate fruit at least twice a day. A further 37% of the EU population ate fruit once a day and the remaining 36% ate fruit either less frequently or not at all during a typical week. A slightly smaller proportion (23%) of the EU population ate vegetables at least twice a day, and a slightly higher proportion (40%) ate vegetables once a day.
New EU regulations for mango imports
The EU will introduce new regulations governing the imports of mango. The new directive will take effect from 1st September 2019. According to the Europe-Africa-Caribbean-Pacific Liaison Committee (COLEACP), importers must act now to ensure compliance. The new rules are a response to high numbers of interceptions of mango imports due to the presence of fruit fly (non-European Tephritidae). On 21 March 2019, the new rules were officially adopted as Commission Implementing Directive (EU) 2019/523, amending Annexes I to V of the EU Plant Health Directive 2000/29/EC.
Fruit and vegetable sector remains vital for future of EU’s agriculture
Fruit and vegetables accounted for approximately 14 % of the total value of the EU's agricultural production in 2018. This sector is fundamental for many EU Member States, especially those of the Mediterranean region and some northern and eastern European countries. Moreover, all EU Member States produce at least a few types of fruit and vegetables.
EU Directive on Unfair Trading Practices adopted
The European Parliament has adopted new the EU Directive on Unfair Trading Practices in the Food Supply Chain to rebalance power among farmers, food processors and retailers. The Directive forbids certain commercial practices such as late payments for perishable food products or last-minute order cancellations. Third countries’ businesses must comply with the same rules as European companies.
Large EU apple crop puts pressure on prices
Average EU apple prices in February were 4% below the reference period average. However, average prices seem to be reaching stability and market experts expect improvements especially regarding extra-EU exports. The 2018/19 marketing year started on 1st August. After the previous year’s very small crop, the current season represents a return to high volumes, which, in terms of prices, implies a shift from very high prices to lower prices. At the Member State level there are significant differences.
Two-thirds of the EU’s fruit production in Spain, Italy and Poland
The EU’s fruit production area measured almost 1.3 million hectares in 2017, according to Eurostat data. The largest area was in Spain (422,800ha, 33%), followed by Italy (279,300ha, 22%) and Poland (167,300ha, 13%). Apples accounted for just over one third of the area (473,500ha, 37%), followed by oranges (255,500ha, 20%). Next came peaches (190,500ha, 15%), clementines and satsumas (139,600ha, 11%), pears (100,400ha, 8%), apricots (75,700ha, 6%) and lemons (60,100ha, 5%).
EU avocado prices to lower over the long-term
The world’s production of Hass avocado is estimated to grow on average by around 230,000 tons per year over the next five years, an increase of 14%. The US and the EU markets currently receive about 90% of global avocado imports, with imports increasing on average by 85,000 and 70,000 tons a year respectively over the last five years. Despite growing demand, the Asian avocado market still relatively small, with China and Hong Kong together importing 53,000 tons in 2017.