Several European countries are pushing for a trade agreement between the EU and Mercosur (Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay). Germany, Netherlands, Spain, Czech Republic, Portugal, Latvia and Sweden have all formally requested that the Commission arrives at an agreement, according to AFP. Nevertheless, some countries (France, Poland, Belgium and Ireland) are concerned about the treaty and the effect it might have on European farming.
Mixed messages from EU countries regarding treaty with Mercosur
EU agri-food trade balance strengthens
EU agri-food exports remain strong, with the March 2019 level matching the record level of March 2017 (€12.6 billion) or 7% higher than in March 2018, according to data from the European Commission. Meanwhile, agri-food imports in March totalled €10.1 billion (1.9% up from March 2018). The greatest increases in monthly export values in the past year were recorded for China (+€125 million), the US (+€119 million) and Egypt (+€103 million). The largest falls in exports were to Saudi Arabia (-€96 million) and South Korea (-€24 million).
New EU labelling requirements for fruits and vegetables
The EU has brought in new marketing standards for how fruits and vegetables are labelled. This will involve how Country of Origin is shown. The indication of the country of origin must be preceded by a term such as "Origin" or "LvO". Other accepted formulations are: "Grown in", "Product of", "COO" (abbreviation for Country of Origin).
Sunaran enters UNICA Group
The move is expected to allow UNICA to increase its volume to 450 million kilos of fruit and vegetable products.
Unica Group has integrated Sunaran – a cooperative located in the Cordovan town of Palma del Río. Sunaran SAT is composed of 100 farmers cultivating 1,500 hectares of citrus in the Guadalquivir Valley, reaching a production of 50,000 tons. Future growth is expected with the entry into production of the youngest farms over the coming years.
EU expands project to encourage schoolchildren to consumer fresh produce
The European Commission’s project to ensure children have access to fresh fruits and vegetables continues to expand. In 2018/19, the Commission assigned €145.6 million for the scheme. In 2017/18, 20.2 million secondary, primary and pre-school children participated in the programme, which saw over 255 million kilos of fresh fruits and vegetables distributed to schools. Germany had the largest number of participants, followed by Poland, Romania and the UK.
European producers mobilise to defend European Agriculture
On Thursday 23 May 2019, FruitVegetablesEUROPE (EUCOFEL) met in Brussels with other European and national associations in the agricultural sector to discuss how to address concerns about the EU’s trade policy. At the meeting, the “Alliance for the Defence of European Agriculture” (ADEA) was formed.
The Alliance is pro-European and calls for support from the newly elected MEPs to defend and promote European farmers and products, and ensure a level-playing field in trade agreements with third countries.
Spain’s CGC bemoans country’s "irrelevance" in plant health and accuses IVIA of turning its back on the export sector
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.
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.