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Second edition of Morocco Berry Conference attracts international audience

Second edition of Morocco Berry Conference attracts international audience

The second edition of the Morocco Berry Conference, held online on 7-8 April 2021, attracted a remarkable 550 visitors from 50 different countries. The event’s virtual platform offered a series of presentations mostly related to growing berries and associated technical issues. As the platform remained open for 30 days, visitors could watch replays of the conferences, download presentations, visit booths, views videos, search for documentation, get in touch with sales representatives and network with fellow participants via chat messaging.

A multinational perspective was guaranteed by the colourful spectrum of speakers. From the US, Bernadine Strik discussed blueberry physiology and the pruning of blackberries. Sebastián Ochoa from Chile presented his studies on a substrate blueberry farm. From México, Miguel Ahumada explained trellising for raspberries. And from the Netherlands, Cindy Van Rijswick of Rabobank gave a global perspective of the international berry market. Morocco´s speaker was Amine Bennani, chairman of the national soft fruit producer’s association, who analysed data about the soft fruit industry in Morocco. Then, Dr Redouane ChoukrAllah gave a presentation on water scarcity. From South Africa, Pieter Zietsman talked about irrigation, before James Dick presented his views on pruning Southern Highbush blueberry crops. Finally, Elzette Schutte, from the Berries SA association, closed the conference by detailing the berry situation in South Africa.

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Coop Sole launches new SiBon 500g packaging

Coop Sole launches new SiBon 500g packaging
Photo: Coo Sole

Coop Sole’s new packagaing has three distinctive attributes. It is environmentally friendly and made of kraft paper, certified suitable for contact with food. The lid window is made of biodegradable plant material, so that the entire packaging can be disposed of and is 100% recyclable.

It is also highly functional. In addition to optimally protecting the product and preserving it during any handling after packaging, it gives visibility to each individual strawberry, so that the consumer can fully assess the integrity of each fruit.

The packaging is also elegant. The essential design and neutral cardboard, combined with the brand’s only touch of colour, make this package an elegant and refined container, in line with the quality of SìBon.

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Peru and Chile smash blueberry export records

Peru and Chile smash blueberry export records

© Promperu

 

Peru remained the world’s number-one source of blueberries in 2020, achieving a record export year in the process. The value of Peru’s blueberry shipments surpassed the US$1 billion mark, a jump of 23.4% on 2019, according to trade agency Adex, whose representative Lizbeth Pumasunco said, “From August to November we have an advantage, because the US and Canada do not harvest because it is winter, and in the case of Chile and Mexico they do not start their campaigns.”

Chile also shipped a record 118,225 tons of blueberries in 2020/21, up 8.2% on the previous year. The higher volume was due to an increase in planted area, the replacement of old plants with newer, more productive varieties and the introduction of the Systems Approach for exports from the Ñuble and Biobío regions, which enabled more fruit to be exported fresh rather than frozen.

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Nature’s Pride and Berries Pride CO2 reduction targets acknowledged by Science Based Targets Initiative

Nature’s Pride and Berries Pride CO2 reduction targets acknowledged by Science Based Targets Initiative
Photo by Nature´s Pride

Nature’s Pride and Berries Pride are the first trading companies in the fruits and vegetables sector worldwide to have their greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets validated and approved by the Science Based Targets Initiative. By having this acknowledgement, the companies show that their climate goals are in line with the level of decarbonisation required to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement and that they are taking the appropriate measures to limit global warming to 1.5°C. The Science Based Targets Initiative is a collaboration between CDP, the United Nations Global Compact (UN Global Compact), World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

In 2018 Nature’s Pride and Berries Pride did a baseline study of her CO2 emissions in order to understand where reduction measures needed to be taken. Based on this, they set measures to reduce their CO2 emissions with 1/3 by 2023. These measures are defined for their facilities, but also for transportation, more sustainable packaging and reduction of food waste. 

International network of ambitious companies

By having their targets validated by the Science Based Targets Initiative, Nature’s Pride and Berries Pride have joined a growing group of leading companies that are setting emissions reduction targets in line with what climate science says is necessary. By doing this, they want to motivate more companies in their sector to have their CO2 targets validated by the Science Based Targets Initiative. You can find more information can be found at: www.sciencebasedtargets.org

 

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Virtually bursting with berry brilliance

Virtually bursting with berry brilliance

The leading conference for the soft fruit sector, the Global Berry Congress, has been given a new date online on 10th December 2020. As the essential meeting point for the international soft fruit industry, Global Berry Congress Live offers anyone working in the fresh berry supply chain a valuable chance to connect with key players in the category.

The event delivers the same programme of interviews, discussions and presentations, as well as providing the same opportunities to connect and interact with other delegates, speakers, exhibitors and sponsors.

http://www.berrycongress.com/

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Argentina gets ready for the 2020 blueberry season

Argentina gets ready for the 2020 blueberry season
© IDEP /// PRESS RELEASE

 

With productive zones implementing strict healthy and safety protocols and an industry working closer than ever towards common goals, the 2020 blueberry season kicks off in Argentina.

Argentina is one of the main players in the global market, exporting blueberries for over 20 years. Its geographical location gives it the advantage of having counter-season crop, which means it can supply during periods of low production in the countries of the Northern Hemisphere. This is why the main destinations are the U.S., which represents 60% of the total exports, followed by Continental Europe and U.K. with 30%, and Canada and Asia, that together account for 10% of the shipments. In recent years, Argentina’s exports have stagnated at around 15,000 tons, representing 10% of the total blueberry offer in the commercial window from August to December in 2019. This is why Argentina is seeking to position itself in the world’s blueberry industry as a niche player with comparative advantages and differentiation values. “We are committed to presenting a product with very high-quality standards that are reflected in the certifications of the good agricultural and social practices to which we subscribe” said Federico Bayá, president of the Argentine Blueberry Committee (ABC).

Federico Bayá, president of the Argentine Blueberry Committee (ABC) /// © ABC

 

The differentiation strategy is based in three pillars: taste, organic productions and responsible labor. For the fourth consecutive year, the Argentine blueberry sector is carrying out its “Taste the Sweetness & Enjoy the Difference” promotional campaign to emphasize the sweet acidified taste of the Argentinean fruit that, because it is produced in areas with “cold hours” has a distinctive flavor that differentiate it from the rest of the suppliers. An additional factor is the increasing trend of organic production, which this year will represent one third of the total produced volume.

Blueberry, a responsible crop

In an increasingly competitive world in which decent work is often not valued and the purchase is determined by the cost, Argentina has national labor, social and health and safety laws that are models worldwide. In 2015, Argentina subscribed to the Sustainable Development Goals established by the UN, amongst which Goal Number 8 is promoting sustainable economic growth with decent work and the prohibition and elimination of child labor as one of the main factors to be complied with. In addition to comply to these international guidelines and promote a production based on a triple impact, locally the ABC is part of the Enterprise Network against Child Labor and is governed by the Nacional Plan for the Prevention and Elimination of Child Labor and Protection of Adolescent Labor.

The ABC has developed a social strategy based on concrete actions in the three productive zones of the country. “As a productive sector, we are increasingly committed to the social issues that surround our cultivation, especially regarding Child and Adolescent Labor. There are a lot of myths around this topic and we want to generate the necessary debates to banish them” emphasized Bayá. “We have been working in a project for the past two years that implicated the elaboration of a protocol named Responsible Agricultural Production (P.A.R.) which will allow us to focus on 3 aspects: preventing, monitoring and attending child labor.”

Higher sea shipments to become more competitive

Given the lack of competitiveness that the Argentine blueberry is facing due to a an increasingly complex and more supplied global market, the sector has been able to make the effort in logistics to reduce costs. “We were used to a market that paid air freight to receive the fruit faster, but today, with an increasing number of players supplying the market constantly, we need to focus on a different way of transport”. This is a trend that has been going on during the past years, where the rate of sea shipments went from 2-3% in 2014 to 35% in 2019. In the middle of the pandemic, where there will be a lower frequency of commercial flights, it is projected that only 30% of the fruit will be exported by air freight.

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BelOrta: responsive strategies to generate value chains

BelOrta: Emmer karton 500gr pack © BELORTA
© BELORTA

 

BelOrta reacted promptly to find solutions for varieties affected by Covid-19, offering more packaging formats and consumer campaigns and continuing to increase organics and specialties.

 

Belgium’s leading vegetable auction worked hard and quickly to shift products to the retail channel that were left unsold due to the closure of the food service channel. New consumer packaging formats and in-store promotions were promptly introduced, particularly for asparagus, cucumber, and lettuce specialties like Lollo Bionda. Overall, demand for packed products rose sharply. Recycled PET punnets, which had already been successfully introduced, became the most popular. “We have seen a shift back to packaging for hygienic reasons,” said Jo Lambrecht, marketing manager at BelOrta. More sustainable solutions were also introduced, such as cardboard-based banderoles for organic vine tomato. With the rise of the snacking trend, BelOrta has accelerated its shift from plastic to carton solutions, and now offers 500g buckets of snack tomato, peppers, radish and blueberry.

 

Higher volumes of vegetables with better-quality

A survey conducted by GfK in Belgium found that 38% of consumers are eating more vegetables and less meat than they were five years ago. Indeed, retail vegetable sales increased 20% over the same period, according to Lambrecht. BelOrta, too, has seen Belgian consumers shift towards local vegetables. The GfK survey also found that 24% of consumers are eating more local vegetables, a phenomenon that has accelerated since the Covid-19 outbreak. “We have observed a growing interest in consumers looking for recipes, with a higher number of visits to our website https://www.belorta.be/keuken,” said Lambrecht. Meanwhile, BelOrta has strengthened its cooperation with public radio and TV to raise awareness of fresh fruits and vegetables and local produce. One such example is TV cooking programme Un Zeste Local, which uses BelOrta vegetables. The auction has also supported the opening of summer parks, such as with the creation of “The BelOrta Farm” vegetable corners at the Plopsaland theme parks. The goal is to educate young children by showing how vegetables are grown. Product tastings are also taking place in three parks.

 

© Eurofresh Distribution

 

BelOrta supplies the widest assortment

The Flemish Minister of Agriculture was in Borgloon for the launch of the cherry season. During the ceremony, a cheque was presented as a donation to cancer research.  The next BelOrta Product Show will be held on October 8-9, where customers worldwide are invited to come and taste all of the BelOrta products in a single location. The firm, which supplies over 50 tomato varieties, has introduced several new vegetable varieties this season, like Sopropo bitter melon, sugar snap peas, and edamame (sweet soybean). BelOrta has also launched new packaging formats, such as the 2kg cherry box, as well as other products packaged in top-seal rPET punnets. Packing capacity has been increased at the company’s Borgloon and Zellik centres, with new top-seal lines.

A major campaign to promote the consumption of peppers has been launched in France, with brochures and gifts given out to consumers at points of sale. Also, from July 1st, a TV campaign will run on FLAM to promote Belgium’s organic produce, including its fruit and vegetables. 

 

© Eurofresh Distribution

 

More berries, tomatoes and organics

The shift from strawberries to other berries continues. This has been aided by the introduction of new varieties to extend the cultivation cycle of raspberries and blueberries. BelOrta has also increased its winter production of tomato specialties, like vine tomato, beeftomatoes and Ruby Red, with 5ha more glasshouse area under light to a total area of 90 ha. The auction also proposes more winter cucumbers, in total 7ha under light. What’s more, BelOrta aims to start exporting organic produce this season. The auction now offers organic blueberries, with 25.5ha of certified plantation in production. It has also increased supplies of organic endives, cucumbers and leek.  

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IG International brings finest quality farm-fresh fruits to consumers

IG International brings finest quality farm-fresh fruits to consumers © IG INTERNATIONAL
© IG INTERNATIONAL

 

Renowned fresh fruits importer IG International Pvt. Ltd. is now a part of the global blueberry sector, in partnership with MBO & Mano Babiolakis. Working with an Australian team, IG International has set up a large blueberry production area in India, the first of its kind for IG in India.

The venture began in 2017 and was motivated by a desire to produce the finest blueberries for Indian consumers on Indian soil. This is likely to revolutionise the global blueberry trade.

From the Indian perspective, this is the first large-scale blueberry project. IG International encountered some typical difficulties with climatic conditions before being able to successfully harvest blueberries in India thanks to persistent hard work.

 

IG International gains strategic advantages by producing blueberries in India

In India, the blueberry harvest spans from February to May. The window is in a strategic position to derive maximum value from markets across the world. During this phase, Chile’s yearly harvest season finishes, while the Northern Hemisphere season is just commencing. So, there are not many blueberries anywhere in the world during this window, which makes IG International’s Indian project a potentially lucrative one.

 

Blueberries are exceedingly good for public health

IG International is recognised for the quality of its blueberries, which are sold under the IG Berries brand. In India, IG International is planning to harvest 20mm blueberries that will be crunchy and sweet. 

Blueberries offer a range of benefits for public health, including aiding with the management of diabetes and UTIs. Similarly, blueberries are good for cardiovascular health. They help prevent cardiac disorders, keep the heart healthy, safeguard against cholesterol, and help manage hypertension. Blueberries are also associated with a reduction in muscle damage.

This is why nutritionists across the world label blueberries as a superfood and the king of antioxidant foods.

Despite being low in calories, blueberries have a high nutritional value. This is one of the key underlying factors behind the meteorological rise in the production and consumption of blueberries over the past few decades, particularly among people residing in urban areas. 

 

Blueberries produced by IG International are high-quality products

In a press conference, Tarun Arora, IGIPL director, vouched for the viability, quality, and pricing of the blueberries produced by IGIPL. This makes them highly lucrative for Indian and international consumers. Arora went on to state that this venture should secure IG International’s position among Asia’s top-five berry producers by 2024.

IG International’s blueberry production has certain unique features. Its produce procurement spans 22 countries, and the company has a handling capacity for 32 varieties. This empowers IG International to deliver natural produce to people with varied preferences in the Indian market.

 

About IG International Pvt Ltd. (IGIPL)

IG International is among the top importers of food produce across the world. The company is dedicated to ensuring that consumers get access to high-quality products. IG International is a group of 14 companies with 50 years of experience behind them, supplying the best-quality fresh produce. Importing fresh produce is the firm’s core activity.

The company initiated its activities in India in 2000, when its chairman, Gian Chand Arora, first imported fruit containers from Australia. From that point on, it began investing in infrastructure.

IGIPL is now a leader in imported fresh fruits. IGIPL handles fresh fruits in volumes of 3500 – 4000 sq foot3 refrigerated containers. The produce comes from 22 countries from all across the globe. 28 wholesale outlets from all across India manage the distribution of goods. 

Over 5 decades of experience in the industry has made IGIPL among the top distributors and marketers of the best quality and nutritious fresh fruits across the country. Consumers and industry players now associate the IG brand with reliability, freshness, and product quality.

Beyond imports, the other activities in IGIPL’s portfolio are temperature-controlled warehousing and third-party logistics. IGIPL currently has a capacity of 40,000 tons, with facilities in Amravati, Theog, Chandigarh, Jaipur, Bangalore, Chennai, and Mumbai. Its fleet comprises 50 refrigerated trailers and 50 refrigerated trucks. Each of the trailers has 40’ reefer containers.

 

IG International announces launch of eCommerce platform

IG International has now come up with a dedicated eCommerce platform that makes it easier for consumers and merchants to get access to fresh fruit produce. They can place orders online and the goods are delivered right to their doorstep. Although the idea of taking business online has been in the pipeline for some time now at IG International, it came to fruition during the recent lockdown.

Inter-state transportation became a difficulty during lockdown, as state borders were sealed. This led to cases where people had to make do with the groceries available in local grocery shops and from vendors. Access to nutritious foods and dairy products was still there, but the choices were limited. Even eCommerce deliveries were restricted to essential goods for a while to keep a check on the spread of COVID-19. 

IG International has entered the eCommerce arena at this stage to simplify shopping for consumers, and make sure that they find access to the most nutritious foods. This empowers consumers to shop at any time that suits them from the comfort of their homes over their PCs. They can also comfortably shop on the go, over their smartphones or using other mobile devices. IG International has come up with a responsive website that can be easily accessed over mobile devices and ensures the best possible end-user experience. The quality and freshness of products sold by IG international online or directly to vendors and consumers is always guaranteed to be the best. 

IG International’s services are preferred because the firm supplies the finest varieties of fresh fruits. Families can get the best fresh fruits to match their tastes. IG International takes pride in its endeavour to keep the community fit and healthy. Consumers and merchants alike prefer to shop at IG International’s online store because the website is easy to use, the menus and navigation are well defined, and they can complete purchases in three simple steps. IG International accepts several payment modes including net-banking, debit cards, credit cards, and PayPal.

Shopping at the IG International web mall is simple for consumers and merchants, who can find the best prices for all products. The products are nicely illustrated using photographs, so consumers can gauge their quality. IG International believes that going online will empower consumers to get easy access to fresh produce, particularly in times of lockdown. Consumers can hence comfortably access the products without going to the market. This promotes social distancing, which is one of the effective measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

 

High nutrition products made available at IG International’s website

IG International firmly believes that keeping the immune system strong is the best safeguard against COVID-19. Everyone should keep an additional tab on their family’s diet at such times. Fresh fruits and vegetables are among the best ways to get a strong immune system. 

Seasonal varieties of fruits are constantly and IG international makes the best seasonal produce available on its website. Citrus fruits are among the finest ways of boosting the immune system. They also make recovery quicker when one is afflicted by colds or flu. IG International believes that getting vitamin C from one’s diet by consuming fresh fruits is better than getting the same from supplements because fresh fruits provide holistic nutrition. Vitamin C boosts one’s immunity by enhancing the production of white blood cells, which helps fight infections. All citrus fruits are high in vitamin C, such as limes, lemons, and oranges. Moreover, varieties of fruits which are usually difficult to find such as kiwis are easily available at IG International’s website.

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South Africa’s blueberry production continues to expand

South Africa’s blueberry production continues to expand

While the South African blueberry industry is relatively small compared to other local fruits, it is a fast-growing sector. Indeed, the area planted with blueberries is projected to increase by 17% in the 2020/21 campaign and reach 2,800 hectares, according to SABPA data. The country’s production area has grown at over 30% per annum over the past nine years, largely driven by continued investment by local blueberry growers and the entry of international growers, especially from Europe. The Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) has also been a driving force in developing the berry sector by funding various projects across the country and encouraging the establishment of an association, the South African Berry Producers Association (SABPA).

The Western Cape Province is the leading blueberry producing area in South Africa, accounting for over 60% of production, followed by Limpopo (15%), North West (10%), Gauteng (8%), and Eastern Cape (4%). The three biggest producers are Berryworld, Haygrove and United Exports.

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“Berries are a breeder’s business”

Digital Berry Meeting, organised by Mercados magazine copyright. Mercados revista

© Mercados revista

 

The high mortality rate among strawberry plants and how this affects the sector’s profitability was addressed at the second Digital Berry Meeting, organised by Mercados magazine. In a discussion titled: ‘Current situation of strawberry varietal development’, representatives of breeding companies, nurseries and producers analysed the causes of this mortality, which can reach as high as 30%, as revealed by Alfredo Arcos, technical director of Fresón de Palos.

The increasing diversity of varieties, from 20 to 117 in just over 15 years, according to the National Association of Strawberry Nurseries, together with the absence of active materials for soil disinfection and crop treatment, and the constant demand for earlier plants have all given rise to a breeding ground that is seriously affecting the profitability of commercial nurseries.

“Our profitability has plummeted, especially in the last three years,” said Javier Palacios, president of the association, who went on to say that “the business belongs to the breeders, who face no risks, while our profitability is zero.” And although nurseries provide healthy plants to their customers, if any problem appears, “we are responsible”.

According to Palacios, nurseries work with the sole objective of minimising mortality; for this, they scrupulously select the initial plant and, from there, they carry out an exhaustive follow-up of the clones according to criteria of fruit quality, Brix level, and yield. “It is almost impossible for a mutant to escape,” he said. 

Nevertheless, strawberry plant mortality remains a problem with an increasingly difficult solution. In this sense, Alfredo Arcos regretted that, currently, the breeder companies focus on the search for earliness or yield, at the expense of other issues such as resistance. 

Juan Manuel Arenas, director of FNM, and Francisco Jover, technical director of Eurosemillas spoke of their roles. On the subject of the possible causes of the mortality mentioned by nurseries and producers, Arenas added one more factor: the impact of climate change on nursery plants. As breeders, Arenas stated that they have two main goals: to offer varieties with tolerance to pathogens; and to provide their associated nurseries with genetic materials with sufficient guarantees for multiplication, which they then monitor. 

At Eurosemillas, Francisco Jover stressed the low mortality of their varieties, which amounts to just 1-2%. The breeding company has been in the sector for more than 50 years and, today, has more than 40 varieties of different species, including berries.