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European Commission to review regulation of geographical indications 

European Commission to review regulation of geographical indications 

The European Commission has launched a public consultation on the upcoming revision of the EU’s geographical indications legislation, which was announced as part of the EU’s Farm to Fork Strategy. The European Commission aims to strengthen the legislative framework of geographical indication schemes and improve the schemes’ contribution to sustainable production. Interested stakeholders have until April 9, 2021 to respond to the consultation.

In May 2020, the European Commission announced that it would revise its geographical indications (GI) legislation as part of the  Farm to Fork Strategy. The Commission aims to strengthen the legislative framework of GI schemes, to improve the schemes’ contribution to sustainable production, and to strengthen the position of farmers and GI producer groups in the food supply chain. The 27 Member States welcomed this Commission’s initiative in their Council Conclusions on the Farm to Fork Strategy. The Member States also invited the Commission to reaffirm the relevance and importance of EU quality schemes.

The European Union currently protects almost 3,400 names of specific products that can be agricultural products and foodstuffs, fishery and aquaculture products wines, spirit drinks and aromatized wine products2. These names are protected under one of the EU quality schemes: Geographical Indication (GI), Protected Designations of Origin (PDO), Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) and Traditional Specialty Guaranteed (TSG).

The Commission is currently working on an impact assessment to inform this upcoming revision of legislation. The impact assessment will analyse how to improve protection and enforcement of GIs in the Member States, notably on the internet and encourage GI producers to place on the market environmentally and socially sustainable to meet societal demands and consumer expectations, while making the GI instrument more attractive to producer groups across the EU and help them improving economic sustainability. Moreover, it aims to enable consumers to make informed choices on GIs by giving clear information on GIs through the logo and labelling information.

The Commission is also considering the creation of an EU GI protection system for non-agricultural products. As part of the impact assessment exercise, the Commission is carrying out a public consultation to gather information and feedback from stakeholders on the implementation of the current legislation. The Commission would also like stakeholders to identify the major challenges that would need to be addressed in the planned revision of EU GI legislation.

 

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EU pear crop rebounds

EU pear crop rebounds

The EU’s 2020/21 (July/June) pear output is expected to be up 13% from last year, when production was at a record low, according to a USDA report. Production in Italy, the largest pear producing country in the EU, partly recovered this season due to favourable growing conditions. Similar good weather conditions, in combination with a slightly higher area harvested, also resulted in increased pear production in the Benelux countries. The taste, colour, and storage quality are good. However, hailstorms and heavy rains during flowering and fruit setting led to lower production volumes in the Iberian Peninsula. Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, and Portugal together account for more than 80% of EU pear production (although the area harvested in Spain and Italy fell in 2020/21). EU pear consumption in 2020/21 is expected to rebound after the decline in 2019/20 (due to reduced domestic supply). EU pear import and export volumes are expected to remain unchanged in 2020/21.

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Slight drop in European apple harvest

Slight drop in European apple harvest

The EU’s 2020/21 apple crop is estimated to drop by 2%, according to USDA data, due to a combination of late spring frosts (Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary), alternate bearing (France, Spain, Portugal), poor pollination (Hungary), drought/heat (Belgium, Austria, Poland, UK), and hail damage (Hungary, Romania). Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Sweden, Denmark, the Czech Republic, and Greece reported a partial rebound from the very low production of 2019/20, but the combined increase was not large enough to compensate for the reduction elsewhere.  Market prospects are good as beginnings stocks were very low both for fresh apples as well as for apple juice and concentrated apples. The latter is important as the processing sector absorbs significant amounts of lower quality apples.

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Larger EU citrus crop expected

Significantly larger Spanish citrus crop expected
Photo: Cítricos Rosegar

EU citrus production in 2020/21 is predicted to rise 7.5% to 11.4 million tons, due to favourable weather conditions, according to FAS/Europe. The 2019/20 EU citrus season saw an increase in citrus consumption and peak citrus prices. The recovery of EU production and higher global demand for citrus related to the COVID-19 pandemic may dampen EU imports. Strategic export markets destinations for EU citrus continue to be Canada, the Middle East, and China, followed by Switzerland, Norway, and Serbia. Additional tariffs are expected to continue impacting citrus trade with the US.  

EU orange production is forecast 5.6% higher than the previous season at 6.5 million tons. Orange juice production in the EU is predicted to rise 8% to 87,987 tons. EU mandarin production is forecast to be up 10% to 3.1 million tons. Over the last decade, the EU’s total orange planted area has shrunk almost 12%  and mandarin growing area by 10%. During this same period, EU lemon and grapefruit planted area grew by 9% and 6% respectively mainly due to the growth in Spain in response to global market demand.

In 2019/20, as a result of the decline in EU citrus production, EU imports of citrus grew slightly, mainly from South Africa, Egypt, and Morocco.  EU citrus export destinations are mainly Switzerland, Norway, Canada, and Serbia, with significant rises in new third markets such as China and the Middle East.  EU citrus exports are expected to continue to rise. 

 

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Russia extends ban on western imports

Russia extends ban on western imports

Russian President Vladimir Putin has extended the country’s embargo on food products from Western countries until the end of 2021. Putin stated that the ban is in place “to defend national interests” and prohibits most food products from nations penalising Moscow. The country has been particularly hit by EU sanctions following the Ukraine crisis and Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea.

Last week, the EU agreed to extend economic sanctions against Russia until January 2021, citing a lack of progress on a peace process to put a stop to the conflict in eastern Ukraine. While domestic producers have benefited from the sanctions, they have had a negative effect on Russia’s economy with elevated food prices and a decrease in the quality of some products. Europe’s fresh produce sector has also felt the impact of these sanctions as exports to Russia previously accounted for a large share of sales.

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EU imposes retaliatory tariffs on US imports

EU imposes retaliatory tariffs on US imports
Photo: European Commission

The European Commission has imposed additional tariffs on a list of US products following the WTO ruling against US subsidies for Boeing. The move, announced on November 9th, includes an additional levy on imports from the US of citrus, dates and walnuts.

Commissioner for Trade, Valdis Dombrovskis, said: “We have made clear all along that we want to settle this long-running issue. Regrettably, due to lack of progress with the US, we had no other choice but to impose these countermeasures. The EU is consequently exercising its legal rights under the WTO’s recent decision. We call on the US to agree to both sides dropping existing countermeasures with immediate effect, so we can quickly put this behind us. Removing these tariffs is a win-win for both sides, especially with the pandemic wreaking havoc on our economies. We now have an opportunity to reboot our transatlantic cooperation and work together towards our shared goals.”

The new tariffs came into effect on November 10th.

 

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High European apple prices

High European apple prices

 

EU apple prices were well above the 5-year average at the start of the new marketing year on 1st August 2020, due to a smaller crop. The volume of the EU28 crop is expected to be about 10.79 million tons, according to WAPA data. The volume of the new crop is 1% below 2019’s small crop and 7% less than the 5-year reference average.

The level of stocks was 15% lower than the 5-year average on 1 July 2020. Given the small crop, stocks should remain at low levels throughout the new marketing year. Prices were above average levels during 2019/20 and are expected to continue for one more year.

In Poland, one of the two top EU producers, prices have been at high and very high levels, breaking all historical records since the spring. This is due to low stocks in this country and very firm demand in the EU during the sanitary crisis.

 

Source: European Commission

 

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EU records 8% rise in imports of organic fruits and vegetables

EU records 8% rise in imports of organic fruits and vegetables

 

The EU’s organic agri-food imports remained stable in 2019 at 3.24 million tons, despite sustained internal growth. According to a report published by the European Commission, a drop in imports of organic cereals was offset by rising imports of tropical fruit, oilcakes, soyabeans and sugar. Colombia and Kazakhstan are the new arrivals on the scene and have become major suppliers of organic products to the EU. The main importing EU Member States in 2019 were the Netherlands, the UK and Germany. Fruit and vegetables constitutes the second largest group of imported organic products, with 1.35 million tons arriving in 2019 (42% of total organic imports).

Tropical fruit, nuts and spices (66 %) account for the largest share, with bananas making up 85% of total organic tropical fruit imports. Imports of organic fruit and vegetables increased by 8% in 2019, with tropical fruit, nuts and spices up 13%, reaching almost 0.9 million tons. Organic tropical fruit, nuts and spices are imported mainly from the Dominican Republic (34%, 0.3 million tons), Ecuador (31%) and Peru (15%). Almost half of the imported organic citrus fruit is shipped from South Africa (46%), while other main suppliers of organic fruits are Turkey (25%) and Argentina (17%). About half of organic fruit juices imports come from Turkey and Mexico (both 25%). Middle Eastern countries are the main origin of organic vegetables, including Egypt (26%), Israel (22%) and Turkey (17%).

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AILIMPO: first estimate for Spain’s 2020/2021 lemon

AILIMPO: first estimate for Spain’s 2020/2021 lemon

AILIMPO´s first estimate for Spain’s 2020/2021 lemon harvest is of 1,250,000 tons, representing an overall increase of 10% compared to 2019/2020. Whether this first crop estimate is realised will depend on the availability of water in summer and autumn rains. The estimated global lemon production figure will allow Spain to remain the leading exporter of fresh lemon, and the second largest processor of lemon juice, essential oil and dehydrated peel in the world.

In the case of the Fino lemon variety, an increase of 10% is estimated. AILIMPO has considered the effect of the progressive entry into production of new plantations made in recent years and the situation of the size of lemons at the present time, which is considered optimal thanks to the good availability of water, to estimate a production of 845,000 tons.

As far as the Verna lemon harvest is concerned, the first forecast points to a harvest of 300,000 tons, which would mean a reduction of 2% compared to the last season.

AILIMPO expects a good and fair balance of prices and distribution of economic value throughout the chain, which will allow the Spanish lemon sector to give a profitable commercial outlet to the harvest, while maintaining commercial competitiveness against the aggressive supply of lemon from competing third countries such as Turkey (which will continue to be subject to official pesticide controls at the European border) or Egypt.

Furthermore, from the producer’s point of view, the GlobalG.A.P. and GRASP certifications are key elements for the next season, within the interprofessional strategy to differentiate the Spanish Lemon and promoting sustainable production under the triple focus: economic, environmental and social.

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EU citrus crop shrinks

EU citrus crop shrinks

The 2019/20 EU citrus crop is projected to fall, mainly due to unfavourable weather in Spain, according to FAS Madrid data. Fruit quality is estimated to be excellent. Consumption of citrus is predicted to rise in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, as consumers look for sources of vitamin C to strengthen the immune system. The higher demand and lower supply pushed up prices in Spain during the first 16 weeks of 2020. EU imports of citrus are expected to grow slightly, mainly from Morocco and South Africa. The main export markets for EU citrus are Switzerland, Norway, and Canada, but exports to China and the Middle East have risen significantly in recent times. EU citrus exports are projected to continue growing in strategic markets. One dark spot is that US tariffs imposed to the WTO case against EU aircraft subsidies may impact EU citrus exports, primarily Spanish clementines and lemons. Spain´s citrus sector has held up well since the start of the pandemic and has continued to meet domestic and export demand.