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Favourable prospects for EU agricultural sectors

Favourable prospects for EU agricultural sectors © European Commission
© European Commission


The European Commission’s first 2021 edition of the short-term outlook for EU agricultural markets concludes that the EU agricultural sector showed resilience throughout the Covid-19 crisis. The sector did relatively well thanks to increased retail sales and home consumption. In addition, prospects are favourable with a dynamic global demand and the reopening of food services (restaurants, bars, cafés) expected once the vaccination campaign is sufficiently advanced.

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Andalusia’s agricultural sector calls for agricultural workers to be given priority vaccinations 

Andalusia’s agricultural sector calls for agricultural workers to be given priority vaccinations 
Photo: Proexport

The Andalusian Confederation of Food and Perfume Entrepreneurs (CAEA) has requested “adequate priority” so that the region’s 125,000 agricultural workers can access a vaccine, given that it is an “essential sector”, as stated by the government. 

The president of the CAEA, Virginia González Lucena, said that it is “essential to protect with the administration of the vaccine workers in the commercial distribution of food and basic products in their professional work while the current pandemic situation persists.” Likewise, she recalls that it is “a sector that has more than fulfilled the tasks that had been entrusted to it as a strategic service, guaranteeing in any case the supply of basic products and basic necessities”. She also emphasizes that these establishments are “safe places for workers and consumers, thanks to the prevention measures adopted by companies.”


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China cherry market slowly recovering after Covid-19 detection on Chilean boxes

China cherry market slowly recovering after Covid-19 detection on Chilean boxes © Eurofresh Distribution

© Eurofresh Distribution


On January 22, Chinese health authorities found Covid-19 on boxes of imported Chilean cherries. Despite the very low risk of contamination from food or food packaging, the news went viral and strongly affected all cherry imports at the peak of the campaign for Chinese New Year celebrations. More than 200 posts were published on social media discouraging consumers from buying imported cherries. 

The market is now slowly recovering, with prices back to 70-80% of their previous levels, but the market damage is done: an estimated 70% reduction in demand for imported cherries, with more than 50% price reduction in the 2 last weeks. Chinese public health authorities have since made statements to reassure Chinese consumers, including Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist at the China Centre for Control and Prevention of Diseases. The case also hit New Zealand cherries hard at the heart of its campaign, mainly by air. 

This episode follows the Yiguo bankruptcy last October, partly due to the sale of infected frozen meat with Covid-19. Fear of Covid-19 is now not such a worry for Chinese consumers in general, but they are not accepting to pay the usual high prices for imported products by air-freight.

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La Unión supports Almeria businesses this Christmas

La Unión supports Almeria businesses this Christmas


Instead of having a Christmas dinner this year with its employees, La Unión Corp. is going to purchase 1,500 Christmas hampers containing 100% Almeria products to help reactivate the economy and suppliers in the province. Several large multinational companies have also chosen to support local suppliers through local campaigns aimed at developing a circular economy in these trying times.

In a press release, Jesús Barranco, CEO of La Unión Corp., said: “Unfortunately, the current situation is complicated for many sectors. For this reason, we, at La Unión, want to remain close to our employees and our community. This year, we want more than ever to support the Almeria economy. We hope that with this acquisition of products we will contribute our grain of sand so that the industry of the province can continue to maintain jobs, employment and carry out its activity. Unity is strength and we must all support each other.”



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Tesco to return money meant to support struggling retailers

Tesco to return money meant to support struggling retailers © David Lally, licensed under Creative Commons Licence

© David Lally


UK retailer Tesco has promised to pay back the £585 million it saved from a business rates holiday aimed at helping struggling retailers cope with the Covid-19 crisis. Tesco’s chairman, John Allan, said that the retailer was conscious of its responsibilities to society and that the Big 4 giant did not need the saving due to remaining open and trading strongly throughout the pandemic.

The decision comes as supermarkets face growing calls to hand back the savings which were aimed at helping retailers that were unable to open and struggling to make ends meet.

Data compiled last month by real estate adviser Altus Group projected that the UK’s four largest grocers – Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons – and German rivals Aldi and Lidl would save around £1.87 billion as a result of the rates holiday.

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Sharp drop in cargo handled at European ports

Sharp drop in cargo handled at European ports © La Ville du Havre

© La Ville du Havre


Shipping companies have suffered heavily from the effects of the pandemic, with volumes handled dropping by over a third in some cases. In the first nine months of 2020, Northern European ports registered a 6% fall in volumes compared to the same period in 2019, handling 31.3 million TEU, according to data published by

Wilhelmshaven in Germany was the most affected port, with a 35% Y-O-Y fall in volumes, and market share dropping by 30%. Similarly, Le Havre in France saw its volumes drop by almost a quarter in the same period, with an 18% loss in market share.

Antwerp was the only port that has not lost volumes and has gained 7% in market share.

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UK supermarket sales growth continues 

UK supermarket sales growth continues 
Photo: Kantar

Supermarket sales in the UK were up 9.3% for the August-October period. However, unlike with the first lockdown, there is no evidence of consumer panic-buying at this stage, according to Kantar data. Wales registered the strongest growth (15%), which is where restrictions were tightest.

Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar, said: “Welsh shoppers increased their spending by an average of £10 during the week when the ‘firebreak’ lockdown came into effect.”

The latest lockdown has, however, driven increased online sales. In the week following the lockdown in Wales, online purchases reached a new high, accounting for 16.2% of the market. 

The Kantar data also shows that sales of premium own-label products were up by £56 million in October, a category which usually hits its peak in December. Although Halloween was different this year, the same amount was spent on pumpkins as in 2019 (£9 million).

Online retailer Ocado was again the fastest-growing retailer, with sales increasing by 36.1%, taking its market share to 1.7%.  


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British consumers flock to farm stores in wake of Covid-19

British consumers flock to farm stores in wake of Covid-19 © Kotomi_ (Flickr)

© Kotomi_ (Flickr, Rights reserved


Research published by Barclays reveals how British consumers have changed their grocery shopping habits as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. One quarter of UK consumers now claim to buy produce in local shops and farm stores, instead of supermarket-only purchasing, reports The Financial. Over 7 million consumers who had never visited a farm shop prior to the pandemic now visit regularly. In addition, 63 per cent of Brits claim they will be buying more home-grown produce as a result of the pandemic and Brexit.

The research uncovers an appetite for sustainably sourced foods, with just under half looking to purchase seasonal produce, an indication that consumers recognise their role in helping the sector become carbon neutral. Additionally, just over half believe grocery shopping from local stores and farm shops is better for the environment, and 45 per cent think purchasing from these outlets helps them to better understand where their produce has come from. Around two thirds of farmers plan to sell and process at least some of their produce locally within the next three years.

British consumers are keen to understand how they can further reduce their carbon footprint, with 56 per cent wanting to support farmers more so the industry can become carbon neutral. Nearly half of those surveyed suggest they would like to see a dedicated aisle in shops for sustainably sourced foods, and 61 per cent think that shops need to provide better information on how shoppers can improve their carbon footprint. This would be hugely helpful for the industry’s ambitions, as 45 per cent of respondents didn’t know if it was possible to buy carbon neutral foods.

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Director of Proexport advocates diversification of production and markets to cope with Covid-19

Director of Proexport advocates diversification of production and markets to cope with Covid-19 - Fernando P. Gómez Molina, director of Proexport © Proexport
Fernando P. Gómez Molina, director of Proexport © Proexport


On Tuesday 13th October, director of Proexport, Fernando P. Gómez Molina, spoke at the PMA Fresh Summit (Produce Marketing Association), where, together with representatives from Chile and Hong-Kong, he analysed the impact of the pandemic on the European fruit and vegetable market. In his speech, Gómez addressed the situation facing the European fruit and vegetable sector and the characteristics that define the “new” consumer in light of the situation posed by Covid-19 and how fruit and vegetable companies must deal with this situation, innovating in their processes and adapting to new consumer demands.

“Fruit and vegetable suppliers must be prepared to keep costs low and productivity high, while we must defend the value of our product in a constantly innovating market,” Gómez said. In addition, a good strategy for the future would be “to diversify production at source and expand destination markets to reduce the risks of an unstable market.”

The PMA Fresh Summit session, Around the World in Fresh Products: An Update on International Challenges and Opportunities, addressed the impact on the global product market and ways to generate new opportunities or overcome barriers to business. Along with Gómez, Nicolás Moller Opazo, Vice President of Hortifrut (Chile) and Patrick Vizzone, Director of Food, Beverages and Agribusiness of ANZ Banking Group (Hong Kong) participated.

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The strategies of largest Russian retail chains during pandemic

World Food Moscow's forum of the leaders of food retail market: The strategies of largest Russian retail chains during pandemic © World Food Moscow
© World Food Moscow


As predicted earlier, Covid-19 keeps on threatening the health of the citizens from many countries, and to those countries’ economics consequently. The managers of all the businesses speculates over the approaches to be chosen, and schemes to be adopted.

No wonder, the World Food Moscow’s forum of the leaders of food retail market where top managers of the largest Russian retail brands spoke about their strategies during the spring’ upsurge of the pandemic, created large interest of the audience.

To provide the safety of the staff, 80 special “backup” shifts were organized by Piaterochka (part of X5 Group) in their distribution centres, said Sergey Goncharov, general manager. In case a single person of the shift got ill, the entire shift was dismissed for the confinement to be replaced by the backup team.

To support consumers, Magnit brand organised the collection
of food for people in difficult situation, encouraged its staff to volunteer in taking food to aged people confined in their homes. In every city and town, dozens and hundreds of employees contributed to these initiatives, related Ruslan Ismailov, deputy general director.

During the panics of the beginning of the pandemic, food stocks of some products were drained in no time, said Yohannes Tolay, general manager of Auchan Retail Russia. Nonetheless, company’s IT department managed to fix the delivery within the shortest period.

Thanks to the fast response to the challenges, flexibility and solidarity, our business obtained positive results, informed Martin Shumaher, general director of Metro C&C.

Operating through small stores, it was challenging to accomplish the safety requirements. However, we arranged the app delivery; by August, we have delivered some 900,000 orders, informed Evgeniy Rimskiy, purchase executive.
With the decrease of consumers’ income, Lenta redirected its offer toward cheaper assortment, said Yup Van Vreden, purchase and supplies director. We intend to be closer to our clients.

Marita Koskinene, general director of Prisma, is sure costumers’ safety becomes the basic value and the priority for the retailers. On the other hand, we realized that distance work is very efficient too, she stated.  

The Forum was held in the frame of World Food Moscow Exhibition last September.