PotatoEurope Germany 2022

The Rittergut Bockerode near Hanover will again be the central meeting point for the potato industry on September 7th and 8th, 2022. We are preparing an exhibition and demonstration area for you on over 30 hectares of arable land. Become part of the event and a member of the ‘potato’ value chain.

Machinery Demonstrations

The demonstrations are intended for agricultural machinery companies. Show your machines live in practice, laying, clearing,loading and mechanical weed control:

  • The diversity of modern planting machinery
  • Focus on gentle treatment of tubers and harvesting performance
  • Loading lines from different manufacturers – fast, clean, gentle – live comparisons
  • Whether harrows, hoes and ridgers can be a substitute for herbicides? Demonstration for mechanical weed control
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EU-Mexico talks underway for agreement on organic trade

European Commission and Mexico to start negotiations on a bilateral agreement on trade in organic products

The European Commission and government of Mexico have started negotiations towards a bilateral agreement on trade in organic products.

A commission press release said both sides aim to “swiftly conclude” an agreement that would foster expansion of the market for organic farmers, reduce the burden for companies and supply more organic products for consumers.

Mexico’s Secretary of Agriculture José Calzada and EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan met in Mexico City on February 10 to launch negotiations, “with a view to acknowledging the equivalence of each other’s organic legislation and control systems.” Hogan is visiting Mexico from 10 to 12 February 2016, accompanied by a delegation of 35 European businesses representing a wide range of the European Union’s agri-food sector.

According to the statement, organic farming is going through a period of expansion in Mexico. In 2014, the total area planted with organic crops amounted to 24.5 thousand ha, producing 104.4 thousand tons of organic products, valued at 1,062 million pesos. Tomatoes, coffee, strawberries and raspberries stand out as the leaders in value generation among organic crops.

In the EU, the organic sector has been rapidly developing in recent years, with a total area of 10.3 million ha cultivated as organic in 2014, up from 6.4 million ha in 2005. The EU market for organic products amounts to some 40% of the world market – second only to the US (43%).

 source: http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/newsroom/259_en.htm

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Better market access to India for EU apple exports

apple flick efd

As of late January, European producers can get their apples into the Indian market through the sea ports and airports in Kolkata, Chennai, Mumbai and Cochin, as well as the airport in Delhi. The importation of apples is also allowed through India’s land borders, according to a statement by the European Commission.

It said that previously, all access points in India had been closed to apples imports since September 2015 with the exception of one port.

EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan welcomed the news, saying the improved access to the Indian market for EU apple exports “represents another positive step in finding alternative markets for EU producers, in light of the ongoing difficult market situation. Our efforts to break down any barriers to our agricultural exports and to open markets to our producers are ongoing, as part of the diplomatic offensive we are leading in 2016.”

Huge potential of Indian market

While EU exports of apples to India amounted to only about 7,000 tons in 2014, mainly from Italy, France and Belgium, provisional figures for 2015 show a considerable increase to around 11,000 tons.

The commission said India has the potential to absorb a higher share of EU exports given its moderate domestic apple production (around 1.5 million tons in 2013, similar to Italy).

Amid the Russian embargo on EU agri-food products, Poland reached an agreement with India with the first Polish apples entering the market in April 2015, and efforts by other European producers to seek alternative markets continue, “with the support of Member States and the European Commission,” it said.

source: http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/newsroom/250_en.htm

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Georgia increases its fruit and vegetable export potential

From 2009-2013, exports of fresh vegetables and fruit from Georgia grew by 17% in volume to reach 101,000 tons. Over the same period, they also doubled in value to exceed US$ 200 million.

Georgia has started actively increasing the export potential of its fruit and vegetable industry, according to APK-Inform Agency and based on official statistics for the country.

From 2009-2013, exports of fresh vegetables and fruit from Georgia grew by 17% in volume to reach 101,000 tons. Over the same period, they also doubled in value to exceed US$ 200 million.

In many ways, this trend reflects a reorientation of Georgia’s fruit and vegetable sector towards exports to the EU due to strained relations with Russia. This reorientation has seen the EU share of general exports from Georgia grow from 12-20% in volume and 50-57% in monetary terms.

While showing a fairly modest share in the volume of export supplies, European importers provide more than half of all foreign currency revenues to the Georgian fruit and vegetable industry.


Image: “Georgia proper shown in dark green; areas outside of Georgian control but claimed as part of its sovereign territory shown in light green” by Chipmunkdavis [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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EU keeping a closer eye on the food contaminant perchlorate

High levels of the contaminant perchlorate have been found in Cucurbitaceae and leaf vegetables especially those grown in glasshouse/under cover.

The presence of the contaminant perchlorate in vegetables, fruit and other foods is to be monitored in the EU, following a recommendation by the European Commission.

The Commission says more data is needed on the occurrence of the residue in food in Europe – especially in vegetables, infant formula, milk and dairy products –– to improve the accuracy of risk assessments.

“High levels have been found in Cucurbitaceae and leaf vegetables especially those grown in glasshouse/under cover,” it said.

It said perchlorate occurs naturally in the environment, but also as an environmental contaminant arising from the use of nitrate fertilisers and from the manufacture, use and disposal of ammonium perchlorate used in rocket propellants, explosives, fireworks, flares and air-bag inflators and in other industrial processes. Perchlorate can also be formed during the degradation of sodium hypochlorite used to disinfect water and can contaminate the water supply. “Water, soil and fertilisers are considered to be potential sources of perchlorate contamination in food.”

In its opinion on the risks for public health related to the presence of perchlorate in food, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain (Contam Panel) concluded that chronic dietary exposure to perchlorate is of potential concern, in particular for the high consumers in the younger age groups of the population with mild to moderate iodine deficiency. Furthermore, it is possible that short-term exposure to perchlorate is of concern for breast-fed infants and young children with low iodine intake, it warned.

In a statement on the presence of perchlorate in food, the Commission Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety acknowledged that “divergent approaches as regards the issue of perchlorate in fruits and vegetables have resulted in problems/tensions in intra-Union trade.” It said a harmonised enforcement approach would be appropriate that takes into account “the consumer health protection and what is feasible and achievable taking also into account good practices and regional differences.”

Revised maximum perchlorate concentrations to be used as a reference for intra-Union trade – applicable as of March 16 this year – include:

Fruits and vegetables: 0.1 mg/kg
with the exception of
– Cucurbitaceae and leafy vegetables: 0.2 mg/kg, except
– – celery and spinach grown in glasshouse/undercover 0.5 mg/kg
– – herbs, lettuce and salad plants, including rucola, grown in glasshouse/under cover 1.0 mg/kg

The leafy vegetables grown in glasshouse/under cover have to be labelled as such (or be reasonably demonstrated as being from such production in case of non-compliance with the specific level for open air production) for the application of the specific level as reference value established for the leafy vegetables grown in glasshouse/ under cover. In the absence of such a labelling (or subsequent proof of origin), the levels as reference values for intra-Union trade established for leafy vegetables grown in the open air shall apply.


COMMISSION RECOMMENDATION (EU) 2015/682 of 29 April 2015 on the monitoring of the presence of perchlorate in food

EUROPEAN COMMISSION DIRECTORATE-GENERAL FOR HEALTH AND FOOD SAFETY: Statement as regards the presence of perchlorate in food endorsed by the Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed on 10 March 2015, updated on 23 June 2015

Test tube image: CSIRO via Wikimedia Commons

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Nanotechnology, cloning among sticky issues in ‘novel food’ law reform

Nanotechnology and cloning are among issues provoking most debate as the EU considers reform of its novel food regulation.

The exotic fruit juice Noni juice and a high pressure fruit juice – made using new production techniques – are examples of novel foods that have won approval to go on sale in the EU in recent years.

But according to a recent European Parliament briefing paper, the current authorisation process for novel foods is seen by the food industry as complex, expensive and time-consuming. As well, other stakeholders agree the current novel foods regulation, urgently needs updating to reflect scientific and technological advances.

A previous bid at revision, in 2008, failed due to disagreement over food derived from cloned animals. Questions related to cloning were therefore left out of the European Commission’s reform proposal in the 2013 which would make changes including the removal of the former novel food categories; centralisation of the authorisation process; a shift from applicant-based to generic authorisations; and simplification of procedure for traditional foods from third countries.

Interinstitutional trilogue negotiations started last December 2014 and the Committee of Member States’ Permanent Representatives (Coreper) approved the resulting compromise text on 10 June, with the EP’s Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) following suit on June 25. The text is now expected to be voted in plenary in October 2015.

According to the briefing paper, the issues which proved to be difficult to negotiate were nanotechnology, cloning and parliamentary scrutiny over the list of authorised novel foods.

It said the trilogue agreed that food from cloned animals would be retained under the Novel Foods Regulation during the transitional period until the two separate proposals currently being discussed come into force.

It also reached an agreement on nanotechnology, setting a 50% threshold content for nanoparticles to be defined as ‘nano’ but to be lowered progressively, through delegated acts, as advances in technology make it possible to detect smaller amounts.

The paper said nanotechnology is a field of applied sciences dealing with manipulation of matter at atomic and molecular scale (less than 100 nanometers). “This emerging technology could have important applications in the food and feed sector in the future. Nanotechnologies can be used in the food industry, for example in food packaging, or to improve taste of food, to reduce sugar or salt content or to slow down microbial activity.”

However, it also noted the potential risks of nanotechnology for food safety and public health are still hard to assess. “Some nanomaterials, for example, may have the potential to enter the human body through the skin or through mucous membranes (e.g. in the respiratory or alimentary tract), possibly causing health risks.”

It said there so far no accurate definition of nanomaterial in the EU. The European Commission recommended a definition of ‘nanomaterial’ as material where 50% or more of the particles are less than 100 nanometers in size, but EFSA (the European Food Safety Authority), in view of the current uncertainties, proposes that a lower nanoparticle threshold of 10% should be considered for food-related applications.

source: European Parliament briefing paper “Updating rules on novel foods to keep up with scientific advances”

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Tighter fruit and veg import checks paying off, says EU

Last year there was a small rise – from 4.1% to 4.4% – in the percentage of consignments of the fruit and vegetable on the list that were refused entry to the EU.

Table grapes from Peru and aubergines and Chinese celery from Cambodia are to be under tighter scrutiny for pesticide residues by the European Union.

They are among food products recently added to a European Commission list of imports targeted for food safety controls over and above the routine ones.

Among other foods joining the watchlist are:

  • Vine leaves from Turkey (pesticide residues)
  • Dragon fruit from Vietnam (pesticide residues)
  • Betel leaves from India and Thailand (salmonella)
  • Dried apricots from Turkey (sulphites)

Some products have now been taken off the list having achieved satisfactory levels of compliance, among them:

  • Pomelos from China (tested for pesticide residues)
  • Oranges from Egypt (tested for pesticide residues)
  • Frozen strawberries from China (tested for norovirus and hepatitis A virus)
  • Coriander and basil from Thailand (tested for pesticide residues)
  • Coriander, basil and mint from Thailand (tested for the presence of salmonella)

Last year there was a small rise – from 4.1% to 4.4% – in the percentage of consignments of the fruit and vegetable on the list that were refused entry to the EU.


Screenshot 2015-06-30 at 15.05.02.png

In a report on the results of its reinforced border checks in 2014, the Commission said nearly 100,000 consignments subject to these controls reached EU borders in 2014. “Of those, 11,291 were sampled for laboratory analysis and 496 (i.e. 4.4%, slightly above the 2013 result of 4.1%) were found in breach of EU legislation and were prevented from entering the EU market,” it said.

In a press release, the Commission said the report shows “that the system of controls at EU borders on fruit and vegetable imports from non-EU countries is protecting consumers from potential food safety risks.”

The report is published in the framework of Regulation (EC) No 669/2009 on an increased level of official controls on certain imports of food and feed of non-animal origin, which contains the list (reviewed on a quarterly basis) of imports subject to increased border controls.

The following tables are excerpts from the report, which can be read in full here.
The list of “Feed and food of non-animal origin subject to an increased level of official controls at the designated point of entry” can be seen here.




Screenshot 2015-06-30 at 14.48.03.png



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Putin prolongs Western food ban

Spanish fruit and vegetable growers are among those asking the European Commission to urgently adopt new aid measures for them amid Russia’s extension of its veto on certain Western food imports.

Spanish fruit and vegetable growers are among those asking the European Commission to urgently adopt new aid measures for farmers amid Russia’s extension of its veto on certain Western food imports.

The Russian move came in retaliation to the EU decision to prolong until January sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine conflict.

Russia’s original ban – which applied to food products including vegetables, fruit, beef, pork, fish and dairy products from the EU, the US, Canada, Norway and Australia – was introduced last August. Yesterday, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced he was extending it, “by one year beginning from today.”

Fepex, the Spanish federation of associations of producers and exporters of fruit, vegetables, flowers and live plants, immediately called on the European Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan to extend the exceptional measures used by the Commission to help EU fruit and vegetable growers affected by the existing ban.

In a letter to Hogan, Fepex said the Russian ban on the import of EU fruit and vegetables in force since last August had deprived the Spanish fruit and vegetable sector of the top non-EU export market. “There are no alternative markets that can compensate for this loss,” it said.

Fepex calculates Spanish fruit and vegetable exports to non-EU countries in the first quarter of this year were down 17% – a total of 218 million tons – on the same period in 2014. It said the extension of the veto “will worsen a major crisis in the EU summer fruit market” and called for the Commission to urgently adopt market crisis management measures.

Meanwhile, Murcia’s Ramón Luis Valcárcel Siso, a member of the European Parliament from Spain’s ruling Partido Popular party, in a written question in the Parliament has called for stone fruit to be covered under the earlier exceptional support measures.

He said these existing measures did not contain any exceptional support for Spanish plums, table grapes, kiwifruit, peaches, apricots or nectarines.

“Exports to alternative markets have not absorbed the 60,698 tons which were previously exported to Russia. Measures need to be taken therefore to prevent prices falling as they did between 2013 and 2014 (by 32.3% for plums, 36.7% for yellow flesh peaches and 44.9% for yellow flesh nectarines). The marketing season started in April and farmers are now extremely concerned,” he said.

Photo of Russian President Vladimir Putin: Kremlin.ru [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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Tough time for Israeli citrus market, says USDA

The Israeli citrus market's export value has been negatively affected by external shocks and unfavorable weather, reports the USDA.

External shocks and adverse weather have rocked the export market for Israeli citrus, according to a report by the US Department of Agriculture.

The Israeli shekel has strengthened about 10% against the Euro in the last year, making Israeli citrus exports less profitable in the EU, a market to which two-thirds of its citrus exports go.

The Russian financial crisis is also hurting Israeli citrus exports. The rapid depreciation of the ruble against the shekel has brought trade to a standstill since February. And exports to Japan have also taken a hit due to economic slowdown there.

Israel is consequently increasing its exports to long distance markets, mainly South Korea, the US, and Canada, the USDA said. “However, these markets remain small with the US and the Canadian markets capturing 3-4% of the total Israeli citrus exports.”

Meanwhile, in January, about 6,000 ha. of citrus were damaged due to hail storms and winds estimated to have caused overall damage worth NIS 70 million ($17.7 mil) to Israeli agriculture, affecting thousands of acres of avocado and citrus crops and some row crops in the south. The citrus damage would have been worse if not for the protective nets used in groves. “Despite the weather disturbances, export quantity was not affected significantly and this is mainly to a good crop and that made up for the weather,” the USDA said.

Screenshot 2015-06-18 at 10.24.39.png

Israel’s best seller in citrus is the Orri mandarin, an easy-peeler which accounted for about 40% of Israeli citrus exports (64,478 tons) in the 2014/15 marketing year and mainly goes to the EU and. “Orri is still profitable, but it’s just less profitable per unit than it could be and this is due to the weakened Euro,” the USDA said.

“Orange exports in MY 2014/15 have declined marginally compared to the previous two years because of strong domestic demand (see table).  The decrease in grapefruit exports in MY 2014/15 is mainly due to the fact that about 1,100 ha of red grapefruit (star ruby and Rio-red varieties) were uprooted in the last 3 years due to low profitability,” it said.

Source: “External Shocks and Weather Conditions Challenging Citrus Revenues” a Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report by the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) 

Image: “Lemon Orchard in the Galilee by David Shankbone” by David Shankbone (attribution required) – own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

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Spanish concerns about EU imports of Moroccan tomatoes

Spanish tomato growers have stressed the importance of separate minimum entry prices for round and cherry tomatoes entering the EU market.

Spanish tomato growers have stressed the importance of separate minimum entry prices for round and cherry tomatoes entering the EU market.

Fepex – the Spanish federation of associations of producers and exporters of fruit, vegetables, flowers and live plants – said having just one value for all types of tomatoes makes it difficult to rigorously monitor the market and implement safeguard clauses in trade agreements when necessary. Cherry tomato prices can be up to four times that of round tomatoes.

In a press release, Fepex said that entry prices for tomatoes from Morocco will be one of the main issues on the agenda at the next meeting of the European Commission’s tomato forecast working group, to be held Thursday June 4.

It said that at the meeting it will also propose that the Commission set a market withdrawal price for cherry tomatoes separate to and higher than the current one for tomatoes in general – €18.30/100kg – because this amount is “clearly insufficient to manage market crises in this segment, which endures strong competition from Moroccan imports.” Fepex said that last year farmgate prices for Spanish tomato growers were down 14.5% on the previous year.

Commission sees no signs of market disturbances

In February, the Commission said it closely monitors quota limits for preferential access conditions for tomato imports from Morocco under the bilateral agricultural trade agreement with that country.

“Based on surveillance data from the national customs authorities, imports in October 2014 were 23.4% higher than in October 2013; whilst in November 2014 imports exceeded by 13.5% those of November 2013. Volumes imported under preferential conditions are within the thresholds set by the agreement.

“Member States have reported a positive trend for the prices of tomatoes produced in the EU since August 2014. The EU average price currently remains above the average prices of the last three years. The Commission does not have any evidence of serious market disturbances which would justify applying the safeguard measure foreseen in the Agreement,“ said Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan in reply to a written question from Spanish MEP Gabriel Mato.

Mato had asked if the Commission was considering taking action to avoid upsets to the EU market that might be caused by the increase in Moroccan tomato imports.

“This increase in imports threatens the market access of tomatoes grown in Spain, France and Italy due to the fact that, in those countries, farming is subject to much stricter social and food safety conditions than are in place in Morocco, placing farmers in those countries at a clear disadvantage,” Mato had written.

Parliamentary question
Graph & table

Background: Commission statement on tomato import rules