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AREFLH and Freshfel Europe examine key challenges facing European fresh fruit and vegetable sector 

AREFLH and Freshfel Europe examine key challenges facing European fresh fruit and vegetable sector 
Photo: Freshfel Europe general delegate, Philippe Binard


AREFLH and Freshfel Europe held an online Joint 2020 Annual Event on 29 September 2020, when they examined the key challenges ahead for the European fresh fruit and vegetable sector amid this unprecedented period. The Joint 2020 Annual Event focused on the pertinent theme ‘The Road Ahead – A Sector Fit for Future Challenges’. Speakers from the European Commission, the European Parliament and specialist market analysis discussed the EU’s policy priorities and the current changing market conditions affecting the sector in the short and long term.

With the advent of the European Green Deal marking a new sustainable era for Europe, AREFLH and Freshfel Europe dedicated their Joint 2020 Annual Event to the EU’s new policy priorities. The new CAP, the Farm to Fork Strategy’s policy agenda for the agri-food sector, changing trade developments as well as shifting market trends resulting from the on-going COVID-19 pandemic were discussed. European Commissioner for Agriculture Janusz Wojciechowski opened the Annual Event addressing 150 AREFLH and Freshfel Europe members on the new elements specific for fresh fruit and vegetable production in the new CAP. During the Annual Event Members of the European Parliament Herbert Dorfmann and Paolo De Castro also featured as guest speakers, remarking on the EU’s new political priorities and their impact for the sector in relation to fresh fruit and vegetable production and supply chain actors. To conclude the Annual Event IGD provided an in-depth market analysis on the outlook for fresh produce market trends in a world post-COVID-19.

AREFLH president, Simona Caselli, said: “The fruit and vegetables sector will still be influenced in the coming months by the same topics experienced over the last months, including Brexit, the debate on the Farm to Fork Strategy’s proposals and COVID-19 implications. The Joint AREFLH Freshfel Europe- Annual Event was therefore a good opportunity to review these topics and brief the sector for future development in the coming period”.

Freshfel Europe general delegate, Philippe Binard, said: “Although taking place in unprecedented circumstances, the Joint 2020 Annual Event has successfully gathered leading stakeholders in the European fresh fruit and vegetable sector to examine current and upcoming challenges for the industry. In consideration of the on-going global pandemic and the commencement of new EU policy priorities, there still remains a need to ensure that continued policy coherence efforts are not lost in moving towards a sustainable diet and meeting the WHO’s consumption recommendation of at least 400g of fruit and vegetables per capita per day throughout Europe”.

The Joint 2020 Annual Event was held online to facilitate participation from AREFLH’s and Freshfel Europe members from across Europe and internationally who were unable to travel to the annual industry-wide meeting due to COVID-19 restrictions.

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AREFLH requests EU assistance for fresh produce sector


The Assembly of European Fruit, Vegetable and Horticultural Regions (AREFLH) has called on EU Commission President Von der Leyen to implement exceptional measures to respond to the consequences of the coronavirus health crisis.

Numerous member regions and their producer organisations met by videoconference on Wednesday 25 March to prepare a joint document to request the establishment of support measures for European producers of fruits and vegetables.

The situation is deeply worrying, particularly for certain productions that have already entered the harvest phase, while many regions have to face other difficulties, particularly with regard to the checks to be carried out with Producer Organisations (POs), made impossible because of confinement.

The priority actions and measures proposed by AREFLH relate to the following points:

The right to free movement of goods and workers in the EU: careful monitoring of disturbances in cross-border movements must be implemented as several restrictions persist between certain Member States, which leads to delays that have a negative impact on highly perishable goods such as fruits and vegetables. In addition, closer cooperation between EU countries is required to allow the movement of seasonal workers and their safety at work.

Approval of exceptional derogations for the management of operational programmes by producer organizations (POs) in the fruit and vegetables sector for the year 2020: with exceptions for on-site checks, derogations on green harvesting and non-harvesting measures, as well as an increase in community co-financing from 50 to 70% for all interventions, with the exception of free distribution (already 100% co-financed).

The activation of exceptional measures provided for by regulation (EU) n ° 2013/1308 on the common market organization, with the triggering of articles 219 and 222 to allow the adoption of delegated acts in order to take the measures necessary to deal with the current market disruptions (as was done for the E. Coli and Russian embargo crises).

The AREFLH states that these proposals can be implemented swiftly and with minimum budgetary adjustments, while delivering much-needed assistance to EU fruit and vegetable producers.

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AREFLH’s General Assembly 2019 in Bordeaux

AREFLH’s General Assembly 2019 in Bordeaux

The annual meeting of AREFLH, the association of European fruit and vegetable regions and producers, was held in Bordeaux, at the headquarters of the Nouvelle Aquitaine region. This year’s meeting, coinciding with the end of the mandate of the Regional Minister of the Emilia Romagna Region, which began in 2016, had the objective of renewing all mandates, from the Presidency to the Board of Directors, for a new three-year term.

The outgoing president Simona Caselli was unanimously reconfirmed as the head of the association. She will be assisted by Jean-Louis Moulon, President of the Producers’ Council, also reconfirmed, and by an Administrative Board composed of representatives of the regions and associations of producer organisations.

The meeting provided an opportunity to review the mandate of President Simona Caselli. “I am very happy to be able to renew my mandate at the head of AREFLH. This means that the work accomplished has been appreciated by both the Regions and producers – said the regional minister.

“During these three years, we have achieved the objectives we set ourselves at the beginning of the mandate: The social and geographical base of the association has been broadened, with the entry of 8 APOs and 5 new regions, the latest being the Lazio region; we have renewed the organisational structure, with a new secretariat and the opening of an office in Brussels, to bring us closer to the European institutions; we have encouraged research in this sector by establishing networks at European level with initiatives and conferences and by participating in projects that have obtained significant funding under the European Research Programme Horizon 2020; we have worked on the promotion and awareness of fruit and vegetable consumption with specific publications presented at the main fruit and vegetable fairs in Europe; but above all we have strengthened our role as the European Commission’s privileged interlocutor, achieving results that we could never have achieved alone, as regions or as APOs – she continued.”

“I am thinking, for example, of the increase in withdrawals quotas for peaches and nectarines during the 2017 price crisis. Or the measure that enabled horticultural POs to recognise, in their operational programmes, support for integrated land production and not only for crops included in the CMO.

“All this has been accompanied by constant monitoring and recognition of regulatory developments concerning the common organisation of the market in fruit and vegetables, which has also resulted in the formulation of summary documents and amendment proposals, often adopted by the European legislator. This is the case with contributions to mutual funds, unfair commercial practices and, finally, the proposals for regulations for the 2021-2027 CAP, which led us to draft amendments to protect and strengthen the CMO regime for fruit and vegetables.

This year, AREFLH’s General Assembly welcomed the Deputy Director General of DG AGRI, Rudolf Moegele, who discussed the current state of CAP reform and highlighted the success of the CMO as a model regime for European agriculture after 2020. The Vice-Presidents of Agriculture of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine (Jean-Pierre Raynaud) and Bretagne (Olivier Allain) regions also intervened to analyze the impact of certain provisions of this reform within their respective regions. The meeting ended with presentations by Sabine Brun-Rageul, Deputy Regional Director of DRAAF New Aquitaine and Elisabeth Dirlewanger, Research Director at INRA, who discussed the main environmental and climate challenges that the fruit and vegetable sector is currently facing.

In her closing speech, Simona Caselli concluded the work of this assembly by stating that “the CAP is the only true common European policy, as its name suggests. Decisions concerning our farmers are taken at European level and that is a good thing because they put everyone on an equal footing, without distorting competition. However, we must ensure that the diversity and needs of the different territories, which are also the wealth of our country and the EU, are taken into account. My experience over the past three years shows that by networking, demonstrating competence, making well-founded proposals, you are listened to and get results. Europe is a long way away for those who do not know how to build relationships or who do not want to get closer’’.


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AREFLH promotes role of women in fruit and vegetable sector


The AREFLH is an Italian association consisting of producers, managers, consultants, journalists, experienced researchers in different areas of the entire production chain, from the nursery to the distribution. The association hopes to support the establishment of similar associations the other EU countries with the future goal of creating a European Federation of women of fruit and vegetables.

The organisation aims to promote culture and knowledge of fruit and vegetables from a feminine perspective and to bring the production world closer to consumers. The association enhances the image of quality fruit and vegetables from a scientific viewpoint, while involving women to guarantee equal opportunities.

The association organises meetings, debates, round tables, studies, courses, exhibitions, and cultural initiatives to promote the role of women in a strategic sector for the Italian economy while improving knowledge of fruit and vegetables with innovative tools and language.

Upcoming events are:

• 15/16 April Fruttamami, Milan

• 10 May, Macfrut, Rimini, “Quality in the Mirror” Conference

• June, a tour of the production facilities of Sicilian members

• 6 October, Ferrara

• 15/17 November, Interpoma, Bolzano

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New executive team for AREFLH

At the AREFLH General Assembly on June 22 in Brussels, Simona Caselli, Councillor of Agriculture for the Emilia-Romagna region, was elected president, succeeding Meritxell Serret i Aleu, Minister of Agriculture in the government of Catalonia.

AREFLH, the Assembly of the European Regions Producing Fruit and Vegetables, has elected a new executive team.

At the AREFLH General Assembly on June 22 in Brussels, Simona Caselli, Councillor of Agriculture for the Emilia-Romagna region, was elected president, succeeding Meritxell Serret i Aleu, Minister of Agriculture in the government of Catalonia.

In an AREFLH, press release, Caselli said she was honoured to become president of AREFLH, whose united work between its two bodies, the College of the Regions and College of the Producers, is important on a European scale.

She also stressed that AREFLH’s priorities in the years ahead must relate to the fruit and vegetables CMO, an essential mission of the association. It must also continue its lobbying to defend producers at the European level and carry on work it has started on research and innovation.

Lastly, Caselli stressed the need to boost the consumption of fruit and vegetables in Europe, with better promotion needed, starting within schools.

Also on June 22, the College of the Producers of AREFLH held its own General Assembly, at which Jean-Louis Moulon (IDFeL Val de Loire) was elected to succeed Luciano Trentini as president of the College of the Producers and AREFLH’s vice-president.

In 2014, AREFLH created, in partnership with Freshfel and EUFRIN, a task force on research and innovation in the fruit and vegetable sector. In March last year, the task force published a strategic agenda setting out the research priorities for the sector and its work was very positively received by the European Commission, AREFLH said in the press release.

At the start of this year, and in partnership with Freshfel and Agrolink, AREFLH also launched EUVRIN, a European network of research centres specialising in vegetable production.

AREFLH’s main mission is:

  • to represent its 20 member regions from 6 countries in Europe;
  • to defend the economic and social interests of the fruit, vegetable and horticultural sectors with the European authorities;
  • to promote the exchanges of experiences, partnerships and joint projects between regions and professional organisations;
  • to actively seek new solutions for the main issues which affect the future of the fruit and vegetable production in Europe.

Top image: (from right to left): Mr. Trentini, Mrs. Serret I Aleu, Mr. Moulon, Mrs. Caselli, Mr. Dasque

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Peaches and nectarines PGI: enjoy the difference!

The peach and the nectarine of Romagna, produced only in the typical area that covers the provinces of Forlì-Cesena, Ravenna, Ferrara and Bologna, are the only ones that can boast about PGI brand, the European recognition, that guarantees their uniqueness and emphasizes the close link with the territory of origin, which for its special environmental characteristics and for the historical tradition of the producers, allows to obtain qualitative levels of excellence.

The summer season brought to Italian tables the peaches and nectarines of the Romagna PGI, which returned for the second consecutive year as protagonists of the triennial European campaign of communication and promotion of the fruit and vegetable PDO and PGI.

With the message Enjoy the difference!, Europe signs the products of its territories, the campaign had as its goal increasing knowledge of PGI products, which seem with defined characteristics guaranteed by the European label.

The peach and the nectarine of Romagna, produced only in the typical area that covers the provinces of Forlì-Cesena, Ravenna, Ferrara and Bologna, are the only ones that can boast the PGI brand, the European recognition that guarantees their uniqueness and emphasises the close link with the territory of origin, which for its special environmental characteristics and for the historical tradition of the producers, allows to obtain qualitative levels of excellence.

In Italy from the last mid-July until mid-August, some promotional activities organised within the framework of the EU campaign were carried out: the peaches and the nectarines of Romagna PGI were present in some of the main chains of the large-scale retail, like Abbondanza, Super Alì, Coop Adricatica. In the sales points of the chains concerned, information on the peach and the nectarine of Romagna PGI was distributed, helping consumers discover all the benefits of these tasty fruits.

Moreover, the activities have continued with the sponsorship of some local events like the youth football S. Agostino Tournament in the province of Ferrara that held the 6th – 7th July 2015, in partnership with the mountain bike eventPlan de Corones MTB Race of the 18th July to San Vigilio di Marebbe, in the province of Bolzano on July 19th the Tournament of Beach Basketball to Bagno Kusall in Lido di Spina (Comacchio), in order to end with the tournament of Beach tennis the13th/14th/18th July to Bagno Marrakech in Lido di Spina.

The Radicchio of Treviso and the pear of Emilia-Romagna are the other two products that characterise the European campaign in Italy.

The European multi-country (France, Italy and Spain) program of information and promotion “Fruits & Vegetables PDO-PGI” promotes the official European labels PDO-PGI, through the example of 8 varieties of fruit and vegetables.

These are:

The communication and promotion campaign, called “Europe signs the products of its terroirs”, targets 3 countries of the European Union: France, Italy and Germany.
The aim of this campaign is to inform and sensitize the consumers and the professionals of the sector on the PDO and PGI products and on their multiple assets, through the valorization and the promotion of the terroir.

Duration of the program: February 2014-February 2017

source: August newsletter of AREFLH (Assembly of European Fruit and Vegetable Growing and Horticultural Regions)

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Interpera being held in the Italian pear-growing region of Emilia Romagna

Interpera – the international pear congress of organised by AREFLH – takes place this November 19-21 in Ferrara, Italy, known for its renowned Abate Fetel pear.

Interpera – the international pear congress of organised by AREFLH – takes place this November 19-21 in the Italian city of Ferrara, within the Emilia Romagna region well-known for growing the Abate Fetel pear.

This major event for the pear world will be held within the context of the first European fair dedicated to the pear – FuturPera.

Interpera brings together the growers and other key players in the international arena to discuss key technical and economic topics. Reports and presentations to be released and discussed at the conference include on:

  • Production this year in the Northern Hemisphere
  • Analysis of the production and storage in the main producers countries of the Northern Hemisphere
  • 2015-16 forecasts
  • Analysis of the commercial results and of production forecasts for the main markets in the Southern Hemisphere
  • Innovative systems in the cultivation of pears in the world
  • Pear logistics: the new technologies and costs to tackle the markets of the world
  • New markets: the barriers and the phytosanitary requirements, instruments that prevent the free movement of pears in the world
  • Changes in pear consumption in Europe and in the world
  • Which instruments and projects are necessary to promote the consumption of pears in Europe and in the world?

For more information or to register:

AREFLH is the Assembly of the European Regions producing Fruit, Vegetables and ornamental Plants: