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Mauritanian retailer imports 100% of its perishables

Supermarché Salam, which imports all of its fresh produce, prides itself on its attention to detail throughout the cold chain

Located in Nouakchott, the capital of Mauritania, Salam is a supermarket with a two-floor 800 m2 sales space. It retails all kinds of food and household products.

The company imports fresh fruit and vegetables in mixed containers and handles different types of sales to consumers: retail, wholesale and half wholesale. In other words, people can purchase in units as well as in medium-sized or large volumes.

“All fruits and vegetables are important, because Mauritania does not have the climate or soil conditions to produce this type of food. Nevertheless, the most important in terms of consumption are citrus and apples,” said director general Hassan Fawaz.

Supermarché Salam started out in the importing business 50 years ago. Naturally, as distributor for Leader Price over the past 20 years, its main source was France, but some time ago it started working with Spain, particularly with Las Palmas and Valencia, which account for half of its total imports. 

Increased trade with Morocco

The firm also buys in fruit from Morocco. The construction of a road linking the two countries has made business between them faster and cheaper.

Mauritania is a very hot country and Supermarché Salam stands out from its competitors by paying a lot of attention to the cool chain, making every effort to preserve the quality of fresh produce throughout its tansit.

“Customers come to our market because they know the products don’t suffer from any alteration in temperature, that everything is done hygienically and that they are going to find the best quality,” Fawaz said.

“Although consumption of imported products is everincreasing, there is also an economic crisis, which has obliged people to change their purchasing habits over the past 2-3 years, choosing cheaper substitute products or the same ones, but in smaller amounts,” she said.

This article appeared in edition 146 of Eurofresh Distribution magazine. Read more from that edition online here.


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Who is monitoring the nutritional value of our food?

We already have food standards, audits and certification to ensure food safety. But who is keeping watch over food’s nutritional value?

Futurologists foresee an important convergence occurring between food and health care.

With the degradation of public health systems, people will increasingly use food as medicine – both for cure and prevention. Fruit and vegetables will surely be at the forefront of this dietary approach, but are we properly preparing for it?

The reality is research shows a decline in the nutrients in our food. One study of 43 fruits and vegetables, for example, found that on average the level of vitamin C fell 20% and riboflavin 38% over the last half of the 20th century.

And there are other issues, too, such as excessive nitrogen in food.

It’s time to stop the loss of the nutritional value of our fruit and vegetables and instead start improving it.

We already have food standards, audits and certification to ensure food safety. But who is keeping watch over food’s nutritional value?

From the pen of editor Pierre Escodo in edition 146 of Eurofresh Distribution magazine. Read more from that issue online here.
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Peppers more popular in Poland

They rank third among vegetables grown in Poland, with 1,400 ha in covered area and a 90,000 ton crop.

After tomatoes and cucumbers, peppers come third in terms of area for growing vegetables under cover in Poland. The bell pepper harvest from open-field cultivation is much smaller than that grown under cover. In 2014, 23 ,000 tons were harvested, followed by 28,000 tons the next season and about 34,000 tons forecast for this season. Over 2009-2014, Poland’s bell pepper exports grew from 9,000 to 19 ,000 tons, most going to CIS countries. Agricultural greenhouse farms growing peppers are spread all over Poland, but the commodity production occurs mainly in the area of Mazovian, Greater Poland, Lesser Poland, Łódzand Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeships. About 90% of the peppers grown are red and the rest are yellow, orange or of another type, such as violet.

40,000 tons from the Przytyk province

Radom is presently the biggest area of pepper cultivation in Poland. One of the leading producers of pepper is the farm of Barbara and Grzegorz Małek, located in the Przytyk region. “Przytyk is the heart of the Polish pepper cultivation. The region‘s pepper crop totals about 40 ,000 tons a year, from around 2,000 farms and over 30,000 foil tunnels on a combined area of over 800 ha and 1,500 ha of open field cultivation.

“For example, in just one village in Przytyk, peppers are being grown by 220 farmers in a total of 3,000 tunnels for over 6,000 tons of this vegetable a year,” estimates Grzegorz Małek. Peppers are its main production in greenhouses, with 62 ha of covered crops. It is located in the biggest pepper area in Poland, in a central part of Mazowieckie district. Members of its producers group also grow yellow, green and white peppers. This region boasts favourable climatic conditions, having warmer weather and 44 less frost days than in neighbouring areas. Farmers from Przytyk have started to combine in bigger organisations that allow them to produce a great er volume of peppers with customised and standardised parameters and therefore to be able to sell their produce more profitably, Małek said. More than 20 pepper varieties are currently under cultivation, mainly mixed varieties originally from the Netherlands.

This article appeared in edition 146 of Eurofresh Distribution magazine. Read more from that edition online here.
Read more pepper news here.

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All about blueberries in Latin America

All about blueberries in Latin America

Find out why Chile is in a leading position, how Argentina seeks to differentiate itself based on the taste of its blueberries, what is changing in terms of Mexico’s blueberry expertise, and more.

Peru establishes itself as major player in region

“Peru has been able to capitalise on its own knowhow in a relatively short time, but even when production volumes have been growing rapidly there are questions to be answered,” according to Pro Arándanos president Miguel Bentin. There are currently an estimated 2,400 ha planted, plus an additional 800 under way, which means 20,000 t are expected for the 2016 campaign. And by 2018, there will be double the area under cultivation, reaching at least 45,000 t of produce. While the Biloxi variety predominates, there is significant growth in Emerald, Spring High, Ventura and Snowchaser, among others.“We took the initiative to foster the creation of the association when the industry was very young, seeking to grow in an orderly way and generate genuine collaboration between the companies so there would be a transfer of knowledge. The main need is for an association to represent us in accessing markets and distributing the supply,” Bentín said. The main export market is the US, which takes up 54% of the total, followed by Holland, the UK and Hong Kong, with 83% of the volume shipped by sea. The Latin American countries complement each other, with each having its own place in the market, which is why it is very important to open up new markets, Bentín said.

Mexico grows along with its expertise

Mexico is a relatively young player which did not see the blueberry as a real option until seven years ago. It went through a learning process until it found varieties suited to its climate and learned to handle these cultivars, particularly in the area of pruning and bringing them to market. About three years ago, when the sector realised there was potential, various opportunities opened up for it. Today, Mexico has 4,500 ha planted, producing 15 million kg of fruit, and Driscoll’s vice president Mario Steta estimates this area could be doubled in five years. Undoubtedly, the profitability has been quite reasonable, although the average yield is not where it should be. Also, Mexico is creating a very wide season, achieving a total of 9 months’ supply by starting very early for the autumn window and ending very late in mid-spring. Among its strengths are that it supplies all four of the main berries, which gives it an advantage over other suppliers. And processing technology is bringing particularly strong benefits for one of those berries, the blueberry, and with that very good returns. As for the challenges, the main one is farm labour, which also links to the concept of social responsibility and the availability of suitable areas. Steta stressed that “genetic improvement in varieties must not only adapt to the environment and technology, but make it easier for workers in the field, a resource that is becoming increasingly scarce.”

Uruguayan blueberries ready to enter China

Uruguay has a very compact area in its north with few companies, but they’ve been adapting to the market’s needs in varieties and are now internationally recognised. “This year we expect 2,500 t of produce compared to last year’s 1,800 t. We think this will be a good season, despite the slow demand we seem to have now in our traditional markets, such as the US and Europe,” said Marta Bentancur, Upefruy’s head of international development. Uruguayan blueberries already reach the US and Canada, and major countries in Europe, but the big news is that very soon they may also enter China. “Recently we were visited by the Chinese sanitary delegation and they were fully satisfacted with our processes, quality and infraestructure,” Bentancur said. Uruguay will host the China-LAC CCPIT Business Summit 2017, the main summit between China, Latina America and the Caribbean. “There is a big public-private effort working on access to Asian markets. This year, in addition to China, we want to reach other countries such as Indonesia, Vietnam and India,” Bentancur said.

Chile in a leading position

“We have plenty of challenges, but also opportunities,” said Chilean Blueberry Committee executive director Andrés Armstrong. Chile, experienced in blueberry production and export, confronts new blueberry-producing countries from a position of leadership as it already has a sufficient production volume and base to trade and develop markets around the world. “Chile has a strong position as a global supplier of blueberries,” Armstrong said. It currently has more than 15,600 ha in production and its fresh blueberry exports are expected to exceed 94,000 t this season. Chile is present in China and Korea, markets which have helped boost exports to Asia overall, the continent which last year accounted for 9% of its total export volume. In the medium and long term it will be more important to address the production capacity, since there are many developing markets with potential for growth,“ he said. The benefits of varietal conversion in Chile will be more obvious next year, when production is forecast to rise about 10%. Labour and productivity costs are the main challenges, since their availability and competition with other crops hamper future growth. “As of this season, there is a high penetration of new packaging technology in Chilean industry. Who knows how this will progress in future and if at some point we will be able to mechanically harvest the blueberries for the fresh market,” Armstrong said. “We are always examining how we do things, from the field to the end consumer, as part of our ongoing effort to do things better.”

Argentina seeks to differentiate itself by taste

Argentina is a significant supplier of blueberries in the off-season for the Northern Hemisphere. Its production regions grow early or ‘first’ fruit with marketable volumes from September. The three major production areas are the northeast, which contributes 52% of the total volume; the northwest, with 40%, and the centre, with 8%. There is a total of 2,750 ha of produce equivalent to 17,500 t of fruit for 2016. “The Argentine blueberry stands out in the world market for its excellence in quality and especially for its exceptional flavour. This is mainly due to our climate and varieties, since we have undergone a significant change in varieties of nearly 85% of the total area planted. In addition, 95% of exports are sent by air to reach the destination country immediately, thus prolonging the fruit’s shelf life,” said Argentinean Blueberry Committee (ABC) president Carlos Stabile. The ABC is focusing its promotional activity on the fruit’s flavour and also looking to differentiate on origin. The US remains the largest market, with sustained growth but at a mature rate, followed by the UK, which is characteristic for selling by variety. Other markets include Europe, Canada and Asia, with 80% of produce that is sent to the latter continent going to Singapore, Hong Kong and the UAE, and permission to export to China imminent. 

Blueberries image by Jeremy Ricketts via Unsplash under CC0 License

This article appeared in edition 146 of Eurofresh Distribution magazine. Read more from that edition online here.
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France: higher consumption of bananas, berries, exotics

Though French consumption has been stable over the past 10 years, bananas and exotic products have grown by around 20% and berries by 30% while home-grown fruits have fallen by 15%

The stable volumes of fruit and vegetable purchases in the past 10 years mask large variations by species and a sharp rise in retail prices.

These are the main lessons to be learnt from the CTIFL report and Kantar Worldpanel data, which monitor the purchases of 12,000 representative French households.

In 2015, French households purchased an average of 166 kg of fruit and vegetables (excluding potatoes and fresh-cut) compared to 170 kg in 2005. By volume, more fruit are bought than vegetables (84 kg and 81 kg respectively).

While households are consuming slightly less fruit and vegetables on average than 10 years ago, household size has fallen over this period. In fact, the overall consumption of French households as a whole has grown by 6% during the 2005-2015 period.

Another trend is that fruit and vegetables are bought more frequently (63.6 acts of purchase in 2015 against 61 in 2005) but in smaller volumes (2.6 kg compared to 2.8 kg). “This phenomenon is explained by renewed interest in shopping locally and a certain disaffection with very large retail stores,” said Christian Hutin of Ctifl, author of the report on the panel data for Infos Ctif.

Exotic fruit have the wind in their sails

Over the past 10 years the price of fruit and vegetables has risen by 20%. The climb was moderate up to 2010 and has accelerated since then.

“The result is that household spending is higher for the same proportion of fruit and vegetables,” said Christian Hutin.

Prices have risen more for fruit (24%) than for vegetables (17%).

Kantar Worldpanel distinguishes three major fruit categories: mainland fruit (apples, pears, cherries, apricots, peaches/nectarines, plums, strawberries, kiwifruit and berries), citrus fruit (oranges, lemons, limes, clementinas/mandarins, grapefruit) and exotic fruit (bananas, pineapples, mangoes, avocados, litchis).

In volume terms, purchases of French mainland fruit have fallen considerably over the past 10 years (down by 13% to 41 kg per household in 2015), have remained stable for citrus fruit (25 kg per household in both 2015 and 2005) and have risen sharply for exotic fruit (up by 23% to 19 kg per household in 2015).

Within each category, however, volumes vary considerably for different products (see box). This is also the case for vegetables, with a downward trend for fresh vegetables and a 7% rise in fresh-cut vegetable purchase volumes.


This article appeared in edition 146 of Eurofresh Distribution magazine. Read more from that edition online here.


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Prospects of price gains amid smaller European kiwi crop

The world’s top kiwifruit producer and consumer, China, is set to again grow about 1.3 million tons, while the Northern Hemisphere’s next biggest growers, Italy and Greece, are in line for lower output.

Europe’s kiwi growers have hopes for better prices this season with new estimates showing their 2016/17 kiwi volume is forecast to slip 5% on the previous season, to under 700,000 tons. Though kiwi giant China should again come in with 1.3 million tons – double the combined crop of the Southern Hemisphere’s New Zealand and Chile – the total Northern Hemisphere crop is poised to be down 5% to just under 2.03 million tons.

Italy, then Greece, are Europe’s main kiwi producer countries and in the case of the former, Italian produce association CSO expects the major Italian growers and distributors – Apoconerpo, Jingold, Naturitalia, Agrintesa, Spreafico – will harvest 20% less kiwis, a total of 469,000 tons, of which 400,000 tons will be marketed. A key reason is that plantation yields have been below average in southern and central parts of Italy.

Less kiwis from Greece, more from Spain Greek growers expect to harvest 145,000 tons, a result 15% leaner than the previous season. The kiwi plant needs a cold winter, followed by a sunny spring, but winter was mild in the Thessaloniki region, causing bad flowering and less buds. In Spain, however, increased investment in new plantings in Galicia (673 ha now planted) is paying off in the shape of a 12% rise to 16,000 tons, Growers in Turkey and Romania are also planting more kiwi plants and seeing production pick up.

But the broader backdrop of lower European production is generating hopes for better prices among Europe’s growers. This year they expect to fetch €0.35 to €0.40 a kilo for good sizes and quality, while last year the price did not exceed €0.30/kg. This season started well and with demand for premium European kiwi growing. In Italy and France, growers gained licences to grow limited quantities of the yellow kiwi Zespri SunGold.

Boost to kiwi promotions With the EU’s help, growers and packers have developed new promotional activities which will further enhance cooperation and open new markets, and means less kiwis will remain in storage this season. French, Italian and Spanish packers are planning to ship extra fruit to other destinations, such as Japan and Taiwan. And over the next two years, new promotional activities will take place in major cities worldwide, for example, in Toronto and Shanghai. 


This article appeared in the Kiwi produce report in edition 146 of Eurofresh Distribution magazine. Read more from that edition online here.

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South East Asia opening up to EU produce

South East Asia 146

Over the last two years, European exports of fresh fruit and vegetables were heavily impacted by the Russian embargo, as the EU used to ship close to 40% of its exports to the Russian Federation. The latest statistics indicate that the total export volume only fell moderately, while the value of exports dropped by close to 20%. The collapse of the Russian economy also represents a major challenge for other suppliers than the EU exporters.

2 million tons of fruit imports in Indonesia and Singapore

The ban is one of the reasons exporters are reconsidering their export strategy, but not the only reason. They have ambitious plans to expand their exports, helped by the lower rate of the Euro against the dollar. In the 3 countries visited in October by the European Commissioner for Agriculture, Phil Hogan, there is a significant import trade of fruit and vegetables. China is the most important exporter and its neighbouring countries are active, importing 1.1 million tons of fruit each, mainly citrus and apples, and 1.2 million tons of vegetables, mainly onions. In 2015, trade fell by 14% as Singapore closed off imports from several countries. Imports decreased to 1 million tons, down 32%.

Over the last 5 years, exports of European produce to Singapore, Indonesia and Vietnam have been successful, almost doubling in volume, but the volume of 42,000 tons is still disappointing. Only exports to Indonesia saw growth, quadrupling to 20,000 tons. Onions take up the bulk with 17,000 tons, followed by kiwis. The market for European apples, pears and citrus remained closed.

How to abolish tax and SPS barriers The European Commission, negotiating Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with these countries, wants to do more to support fruit & veg growers and exporters with a new export trade strategy. It helps the sector diversify its market outlets, addressing market access challenges as well. SPS barriers (Sanitary and phytosanitary measures) remain one of the most complex to remedy and tackling them is often time-consuming and costly. The Commissioners for Trade and Agriculture are moving ahead to abolish tax and SPS barriers. In October, during major agriculture fairs in Indonesia, Vietnam and Singapore, Commissioner Phil Hogan intervened with the regional authorities by presenting the main SPS barriers that the European fruit & veg sector faces when exporting to the selected countries. Lowering import duties on fruits and veg is now part of the new FTAs.

New EU policy of market diversification A new streamlined EU promotion policy for agri-food products came into force in December 2015 to help the EU diversify into these new markets, enhance competitiveness and raise awareness of high quality European products. The Commission will continue to actively promote and participate in the call for proposals for 2017 promotion projects to be launched in January 2017. Missions to these countries, which have good growth potential, are an excellent way to promote European produce and increase awareness of the high standards it meets. The rest of the responses have been provided by the dynamics and skills of EU producers and exporters to diversify markets and open up new opportunities.

This article appeared in Special Report: Asia in edition 146 of Eurofresh Distribution magazine. Read more from that edition online here.


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Italy sets its sights on India & South-East Asia for pear, apple exports


The 2015/16 Italian apple season is coming to the end after a complex business year characterised from the outset by various critical factors. The most significant of these include: one of the biggest ever European harvests, the suffocation of Polish apple exports by the Russian embargo, and political and financial instability in North Africa. These factors, which have put pressure on prices throughout the season, have persuaded Italian apple exporters to focus more closely on new markets such as India and South-East Asia. Even if prices have recovered slightly, the European market has not yet restored its pre-embargo balance. For producers, it looks like this could be a second unhappy year with sale prices equal to or below production costs.

Clementi boosts volume by 15%

Italian firm Clementi plans to raise its export capacity. This apple producer from northern Italy has earned an international reputation for delivering fruit in optimum conditions, with intense colour, crunchy texture and a long shelf-life. “For this season, we’re increasing our volumes by 15%, thanks to the contribution from new partners from the mountainous area,” explains Philip Mosna. Thanks to the high quality of fruit grown in the mountains, Clementi has gained a firm foothold in Europe and the same is happening in its prospecting process to penetrate new regions of Asia such as Malaysia, India, Singapore and Hong Kong. “We see a great opportunity in overseas markets, as we have the quality required to succeed there.” Moreover, Mosna confirmed that trading in the Crimson Snow variety has been a great success in Germany. “We’re renewing our commitment to the breeder company Kiku, as we value its sensible initiatives in variety innovation,” says Mosna, adding that one of the key strategies for 2016 will be the inclusion of new apple varieties, while diversifying supplies of other products. To this end, they hope to soon incorporate new programmes for berries, vegetables and yellow kiwi. Clementi is a family business up and running since 1952, cultivating 65,000 tons of apples in the mountainous area of Laives and the valley of Trentino – Alto Adige.


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Expoalimentaria receives over 3,000 visitors

Expoalimentaria is a trade fair, directed exclusively at professionals, executives and decision-makers from agribusiness, fishing, supplies, packaging, packaging machinery, equipment and services for the food industr.

Expoalimentaria is the food fair that brings together producers, importers, exporters, distributors, supermarkets and service providers from the five continents under one roof.

At the fair held in September 2016, over 600 exporters did business and created new opportunities for development, once again making Expoalimentaria the most important business platform in Latin America, with sales of $800 million.

“The 8th Expoalimentaria has brought together over 3,000 international visitors from five continents, including importers, exporters, wholesale and retail distributors, supermarkets, food processors and service providers. We have spaces here for big and small companies and we intend for them to be the engine for industrialisation.” said ADEX Alberto Infante Ángeles general manager.

It is worth noting that Peru has benefited very much from the growing world food market, especially in Asia, which is experiencing sustained expansion. Proof of this is the growth and evolution of Expoalimentaria. 



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Citrus sales climb 8.2% in value in US

Having overtakes berries, citrus is now America’s 2nd fastest growing fruit category.

The spend on citrus fruit in the United States grew 8.2% year-on-year in the 52 weeks to July 30 to reach just under $3 billion.

But Nielsen data shows the rise in the volume of retail sales of citrus over the same period was not so marked, coming in at 3.6% to push the total to slightly over 2.27 billion lb.

While limes, oranges and lemons made the biggest contribution to the sales volumes, mandarins (39.6%) and oranges (26.8%) were the top fruits in terms of spend.

Compared to the previous year, sales of mandarins in the US enjoyed the strongest growth in both volume (up 12.7% to nearly 244 billion lb) and value (up 15.3%).

Also logging growth were limes (up 5.9% in volume and 14.6% in value) and lemons (up 4.7% in volume and 9.3% in value).

There was very little change for oranges, with the volume inching up 0.1% to just over 660 million lb and virtually the same spend.

Although the volume of grapefruit sales fell slightly (-2.6%) this year, the dollar value climbed 4.2%. Tangerines suffered the greatest fall, plummeting 26.7% in value and 16.1% in volume.

Specialty fruits, which make up a relatively small chunk of the citrus fruit market, also dropped both in volume (-11.6%) and value (-7.6%).

Source: Nielsen