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2021 declared International Year of Fruits and Vegetables

2021 declared International Year of Fruits and Vegetables
Photo: Pilar Santacoloma, Agri-food systems officer of FAO’s Food and Nutrition Division.

What is the future of the world’s food sector in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic? Pilar Santacoloma, agri-food systems officer of the FAO (the UN’s organisation for dealing with agricultural and food issues), outlines the body’s agricultural policies for crisis-hit areas.

What support is being given to small-scale farmers in emerging economies during the Covid-19 pandemic and to ensure food security?

Small-scale farmers play an important role worldwide in the provision of major food groups for human consumption, including a diversity of fruits and vegetables, pulses, cereal, tubers and roots; yet they are among the most vulnerable to the impacts of Covid-19. The closure of shops and restaurants has reduced demand for fresh produce, which has affected small-scale producers. At the same time, transport restrictions and labour shortages have also limited their productive capacities. Governments of emerging economies have put in place different policies and plans to provide support to small-scale farmers and ensure food security during the Covid-19 pandemic. Direct links have been established between producers and consumers in countries such as Costa Rica, Peru and Guyana to support small-scale farmers and enhance their incomes, while also improving consumers’ access to healthy diets and reducing food loss. Similarly, governments such as Bangladesh and Costa Rica have enhanced public procurement programmes involving purchasing fresh produce from small-scale farmers for distribution among vulnerable populations, thereby generating a food security win-win situation. Through these measures, governments are supporting local production by small-scale farmers and are providing a diverse range of healthy food for those most in need.

Are fruits and vegetables today considered a more strategic commodity for ensuring worldwide food security?

There are  several reasons why the fruit and vegetables sector is key for ensuring food security. Firstly, evidence has shown that fruits and vegetables are very important components of healthy diets. In fact, an adequate intake of fruits and vegetables contributes substantially to reducing the risk of chronic diseases, particularly cardiovascular disease and certain cancers due to the high content of micronutrients, antioxidants, phytochemical compounds and fibre. Several studies also suggest evidence of an association between fruits and vegetables and improved mental health and increased immunity. Secondly, fruits and vegetables can be produced by small-scale farmers in backyards or in association with other crops, contributing to improved self-consumption or income generation via sales of surpluses. Thirdly, the fruit and vegetables sector can generate employment, particularly for women, along the various stages of the value chain – namely, production, processing and retailing – laying basis for improved income and local development, and better nutrition. However, these benefits are not always recognised and it is necessary to put in place public education campaigns, but, more importantly, to stimulate evidence-based debate to enhance policy support for this sector.

How are the healthy attributes of F&V considered within the FAO’s priorities and action plans?

For the FAO, the healthy attributes of fruits and vegetables are of paramount priority at the highest management level. This is why, the FAO has promoted the declaration of 2021 as the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables by the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. The initiative is aimed at raising awareness of the nutritional and health benefits of fruit and vegetable consumption. In this regard, the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables is meant to initiate a pathway for effective actions that will strengthen the role of smallholder and family farmers in sustainable farming and production. Such actions are expected to have a positive impact in reducing hunger and poverty, enhancing food and nutrition security, improving livelihoods, and contributing to better natural resource management. An action plan for the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables is being agreed with other developmental organisations, such as the WHO. This plan is based on four pillars: advocacy and awareness raising, knowledge creation and dissemination, policy making, and capacity development and education. Activities are proposed under each of these pillars in order to advance and maximise the contribution of F&V to sustainable development, rural economic growth and livelihoods, food safety and the promotion of diversified, balanced and healthy diets.

As the working group on environmentally and socially responsible horticulture is no longer active, what plans does the FAO currently have for working towards a more responsible and sustainable F&V supply chain globally or regionally in Europe or Asia?

As I mentioned before, an action plan is being developed and agreed upon for the launching of the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables. The International Year of Fruits and Vegetables is meant to be a platform to sensitise the public about the importance of the sector for health and nutritional food and is directly linked to the 2030 Agenda, and in particular to the Sustainable Development Goals SDG2 (ending hunger, improving nutrition, and promoting sustainable agriculture), SDG3 (ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being), and SDG12 (ensuring sustainable consumption and production patters).

Regarding bananas and tropical fruits: with the slowdown of the banana and pineapple markets, in particular, what programmes or strategies does the FAO have for stimulating tropical fruit markets?

According to my colleague Pascal Liu from the Trade Division, the situation is not clear-cut and there are divergent trends across commodities. The limited available data for the first half of 2020 suggest that there is a clear slowdown in the pineapple market, but not really in the banana market. Based on these data, global imports of pineapples fell by some 10 per cent between January and June 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. On the other hand, according to preliminary data, world imports of bananas increased by 1.2 per cent compared to the same period in 2019. Avocado exports have also increased, while imports of papayas and mangoes seem to be declining. Only when we have more complete and reliable data for the whole year will we be able to draw definitive conclusions. An article on this topic will be published in this month’s issue of Food Outlook. So far, there is no specific programme for stimulating tropical fruit markets in particular.




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3rd international BIOFRUIT CONGRESS by Eurofresh Distribution & Fruit Attraction

After the great success of the previous two editions, which received more than 400 delegates, Eurofresh Distribution magazine and Fruit Attraction team up again to discuss the future of organic F&V markets and other growing “value chains”. The event will be held on Thursday 22nd from 10am to 1pm in Hall 6 of IFEMA, Madrid, and is organised in collaboration with PROEXPORT, ZERYA and other professional organisations. 

Thursday 22nd October 10am-1pm Hall 6, IFEMA Madrid

European retail buyers and international institutions, including the European Commission and Fair Trade International, will discuss the best strategies for fuelling the organic market phenomenon in Europe and globally. There will be analysis of the latest consumer behaviours since Covid-19. Large retailers, discounters, specialist channels and e-platforms will also share their supply chain strategies for responding to the growing consumer demand for more engagement with the environment and social issues. From 0 residue to fair trade to permaculture, industry leaders will share their experiences of “value chain” developments beyond organics.


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Workshop at BIOFACH2020: “Boosting the organic sector by integrating breeding into value chain partnerships”

Workshop at BIOFACH2020: “Boosting the organic sector by integrating breeding into value chain partnerships”

FIBL & EUROFRESH DISTRIBUTION are happy to invite you at BIOFACH2020 workshop: “Boosting the organic sector by integrating breeding into value chain partnerships”.

Date: 13.02.2020

Time: 11:00 – 11:45

Location: Room Prag, NCC Ost Mitte of Nuremberg

More info at:


It is organized by FiBL Europe within the launch in 2020 of the initiative “ENGAGEMENT.BIOBREEDING – Engagement of the organic value-chain to support Organic Breeding in Europe”.


This workshop will give the occasion to discuss potential models that allow a secure and stable funding for organic animal and plant breeding in Europe. Panel speakers are Pierre Escodo (editor of EUROFRESH DISTRIBUTION magazine), Bavo van den Idsert advisor at OPTA (Organic Processing and Trade Association Europe), Mathilde Tournebize program officer at the Organic Cotton Accelerator, Fabio Brescacin president of EconaturaSi, Mariateresa Lazzaro FIBL Plant Breeding program coordinator.


With this initiative, FIBL aims at integrating organic breeding into value-chain partnerships and sharing responsibility among breeders, farmers, processers, retailers, traders and consumers for upscaling organic breeding and ensuring future food security and quality.

FiBL Europe will offer a platform for promoting value-chain partnerships supporting organic animal and plant breeding in Europe for ensuring the integrity of organic products and strengthening consumer confidence.


Please register to our workshop at

For any further information you can also send an e-mail to

Source: Press release
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3rd China Fresh Produce conference: a great success

FHC China web news


Booming China Fruit Market opportunities and best value-chain strategies were discussed at the 3rd China Fresh Produce Conference organised by Eurofresh Distribution and FHC CHINA in Shanghai (SNIEC).

The 23rd International Exhibition for the Food, Drink, Hotel, Restaurant, Foodservice, Bakery & Retail Industries and the 3rd FHC China Fresh Produce Conference closed on 14th November. The show was bigger than ever, hosting over 3,500 companies and 118,300 visitors from 48 countries. The Fresh Marketplace hosted by the Eurofresh Distribution Forum has taken place for the last three years and includes a very informative seminar on the industry’s current and upcoming trends, as well as opportunities to network with the biggest influencers in the industry. This year, Eurofresh focused on how to reach the end-consumers via best practices from omni-value chains.

Pierre Escodo (conference coordinator, editor of EUROFRESH DISTRIBUTION magazine and ASIAFRESH wechat portal) analysed China’s various retail channels and shared the best practices among local and international retailers. China imports of fresh fruit once again registered record growth (+26%), with almost 4.9 million tons of direct shipments, and close to 7 million tons including Hong Kong. The long-term growth is fuelled by Chinese consumers’ preference for imported produce, the strong growth of every distribution channel and the government policy of opening up to imports with new protocols. The US-China trade dispute is generating new opportunities for all the other fresh produce export countries around the globe to increase their market share in China.

Bian Ning (general operating manager of said, “2019 has been an unprecedented year for China’s fruit market because of the large planting area, the good harvest and the varieties.” 

During its seven years of brand marketing of agricultural products, Benlai has integrated various resources from agribusiness, the government, private enterprises and scientific research and institutions, built many high-quality agricultural product brands from scratch, and cooperated with more than 300 Chinese agricultural product brands.  


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Cathy Gao (vice president at Xianfeng Fruit Co.Ltd) explained how to build a customer-oriented fruit supply chain. XianFeng has 2,000+ offline stores and 1,500+ online stores, making it among the top-3 fruit chains in China. The retailer aims to reach 10,000 stores in three years, covering 60+ cities, and serving a population of 350 million. The firm has over 300 global partners participating in seeding, planting, packing, logistics, distribution and ripening, repacking and retailing, as well as 20 smart cold chain distribution centres nationwide to support its huge retail network.

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Zhu Qi (vice president of 30+ Sanshijia fruit stores)

30+ is a fast growing new retail fruit chain based in southern China. Its aim of building a global fruit company is already on the right track, and already cooperates with worldwide brands such as Taylor for apples and Zespri and Dole for kiwis. Qi is proud of 30+’s professional purchasing and planting teams working in strategic partnerships with international associates such as the Chilean Cherry Association, the New Zealand Trade Bureau, and the Washington Apple Association.

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Huang Jing (head of fruit supply chain at Fruitday & City Shop) 

Fruitday was founded in Shanghai in 2009 as an E-platform for fresh produce. In 2018, Fruitday merged with Cityshop and became an omni-channel retailer. Despite the problems facing fresh E-platforms in recent years, Fruitday never lost heart, and has continued to provide good products with the best immersive shopping experience. 

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Björn van den Veen (CEO & founder of Arctic Solutions)

He shared the firm’s social media retail success based on studies using TIKTOK (DOUYIN) 


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Su Xiuqing (vice-general manager of the largest Mongolian wholesale market Shiquanshimei Group)

The group was founded in 2000 but has a history that dates back 72 years. It is the largest group in Inner Mongolia specialising in distributing agricultural and livestock products. It supplies over 80% of the agricultural and livestock products of the 3.1 million residents of Hohhot, with an annual transaction volume of over 10 billion Chinese Yuan and an annual tax payment of more than 50 million Chinese Yuan. 

The group imports fruits such as durian, mangosteen, dragon fruit, grape and longan, harvesting directly from source countries. Imported fruits are now being promoted at lower prices and with better quality in Inner Mongolia, which has driven increased demand.

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Going beyond organic: 2nd BioFruit Congress examines how to fuel and sustain growth in the organic market

Going beyond organic: 2nd BioFruit Congress examines how to fuel and sustain growth in the organic market

The big issues facing the future of the organic produce market were debated on Wednesday, October 23 at the 2nd annual BioFruit Congress. Held as part of the Fruit Attraction fair in Madrid, the congress was organised by EUROFRESH DISTRIBUTION and IFEMA, with the collaboration of PROEXPORT. Topics covered included how to satisfy increasing consumer demand for produce that goes beyond organic production to address wider issues, how retailers are responding to this, regulatory issues, and the impact of other standards and certification in the value chain.

What matters most to organic consumers?

In an overview of the organic market, EUROFRESH DISTRIBUTION editor Pierre Escodo said the global sales for organic fresh food food is now worth €62 million. However, he said the growth of the organic demand is slowing down bellow the annual 10% rate, needs more product innovation and consumer promotion. Consumers are also confused by a multiplicity of messages.. In order to seduce more consumers to move to organic produce, Escodo said it’s important to understand regional differences in what matters most to them. In China and Russia, for instance, truth and transparency about food products are prime, while environmental production and plastic reduction lead as issues for American consumers, and in Europe taste is an overriding factor, he said.

Natural vs Organic

Tea Thaning, senior food analyst at EUROMONITOR INTERNATIONAL, shared results from a global survey by the firm showing nearly 45% of respondents rated ‘all-natural’ as important to them in diets and ingredients, while less than 30% cited ‘organic’. “It’s important to emphasise the definition of organic to compete with natural claims,” she stressed. Similarly, Thaning said there should be more communication around organic’s contribution to sustainable agricultural practices “Connect organic labelling to the narrative around environmental concerns,” she advised.

EUROMONITOR presentation available at

Wide consumer expectations, including fair pay

“Consumers do not just buy organic produce because it’s healthy, but because of the story behind it,” said Michel Reynaud, vice president of ECOCERT, World leader in organic farming certification. He said consumers not only want strict and transparent rules on organic production, they have wider expectations, including fair pay across the supply chain. “They also want organic to have an impact on the environment, not only on carbon but water,” he said. Reynaud also explains the use of “Fair-for-Life” standard, in order to build up a resilient organic and fair trade supply chain in one tool.

Supporting growers during conversion

Cordoba-based Campiña Verde supplies Germany’s REWE Group with organic produce and Jose Tienda, head of its organic sourcing division, spoke of the importance of supporting growers who are undergoing the long conversion process to organic production. Tienda said a good example of this is the Naturgut Junior Helden (‘junior heroes’) range sold at REWE’s Penny supermarket chain, which finds a market for produce from such soon-to-be organic farms. Under the Bio-Helden (‘organic heroes’) organic produce line, Penny also gives growers higher tolerance, allowing the sale of unusual-looking produce and also promoting it in a campaign with a slogan meaning “real organic heroes might have flaws”.

French organic pioneer Biocoop continues to expand

Illustrating the sturdiness of organic demand in France, the leading European organic chain BIOCOOP spans 3,200 farms and 600 specialist organic stores there. Its retail turnover in 2018 was up 10.4% to €1.2 billion and it plans 70 store openings over 2019, according to David Siffert, head of Biocoop’s fruit and vegetable division. The organic market has changed considerably in the last few years and reflecting this, today Biocoop favours suppliers who are committed to sustainability and transparency, he said.

Multi-certification a challenge

The event wrapped up with a panel discussion on value-adding beyond official organic certification which featured DEMETER INTERNATIONAL head of certification for Spain & Latin America Eduardo Tilatti, BRIO SPA (ALEGRA GROUP) commercial director Anton Carra, PLANET PROOF program manager for F&V Stefanie de Kool, COLLECTIF NOUVEAUX CHAMPS (0 residue) chairman Bruno Vila and FIBL Europe director Miguel de Porras.

Miguel de Porras from FIBL commented the economic impact of multiple certification for produce under different standards such as FairTrade, and Rainforest Alliance. He said producer groups are finding it increasingly challenging to manage this range of standards, which can mean a lot of extra work in maintaining records and even separate audits.

Eduardo Tilatti from DEMETER INTERNATIONAL revealed the experimental program of cultivating and packing with 0 plastics, testing the use of paper, water resistant and fully biodegradable. Demeter international certifies today biodynamic 5300 farms and 183000ha worldwide. “The economic empowerment of small farmers and their local communities is part of our fundamental values, along with Biodiversity, Carbon foot print and soil fertility” commented Tilatti.

BRIO SPA (ALEGRA GROUP) commercial director Anton Carra share its experience of developing organic markets overseas like Brazil & Asia, the developing new organic lines like kaki and pomegranate. Brio is also involved in multiple value-chain programs like Demeter, Naturland, FairTrade pineapples from Togo and the new European promotion campaign “Made in Nature”.

PLANET PROOF program manager for F&V Stefanie de Kool explained why the Dutch protocol “Milieukeur” is getting international, in response to the demand of the Dutch retailers and how it is helping the stakeholders of other countries to organize for more ambitious sustainability goals and achieve a reduction of environmental impact up to 50%.

COLLECTIF NOUVEAUX CHAMPS (0 residue) chairman Bruno Vila explains how the new « 0 residue segment is positioning between the conventional and organic lines, responding to a consumer segment which is aiming to consume residue free produce, a major concern among the French consumers. Just created 18 months ago, 0 residue certified produce represent €59 millions of revenues and 23,000 tons of fresh fruit & vegetables marketed.


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Eurofresh Distribution & Fruit Logistica provide keys to success at fifth Berry Congress

Eurofresh Distribution & Fruit Logistica provide keys to success at fifth Berry Congress

Eurofresh Distribution & Fruit Logistica are sponsoring the 5th edition of the International Berry Congress in Huelva with “the largest capacity so far”, according to its organisers. More than 1,200 professionals from some 50 companies have gathered in the capital of Huelva to learn about the state of the berry sector both nationally and internationally. Filipe da Silva, head of global berry purchases at Jaguar and Sumit Saran, director of the Indian consultancy SS Associates will speak at the event lead the block of ‘work groups’ dedicated to analysing the new emerging markets for the berry sector.

Among the speakers at the event is Mamoud Dhanji, from Canada’s number-one importer, KROPS IMPORTS, who will discuss the market opportunities in North America, where the Spanish sector is hoping to reopen the market for berries.

“The Huelva Berry Congress is an unmissable event for Fruit Logistica. The berry sector is booming in Spain, its producers and buyers are expanding ever further internationally and we want to help them because the sector’s presence in Berlin is very important,” said Silvia de Juanes, communications director at Fruit Logistica for Spain and Latin America. Last year’s edition of Fruit Logistic featured the participation of 74 Andalusian companies, with 14 from the province of Huelva alone. The registration period for exhibitors who wish to participate in the next edition is open until July 31.


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Opportunities in China’s 26% growth in fruit imports debated at 3rd FHC China Fresh Produce Conference with Eurofresh Distribution

Opportunities in China’s 26% growth in fruit imports debated at 3rd FHC China Fresh Produce Conference with Eurofresh Distribution

Leading China retail & e-commerce buyers are invited once again as speakers to the 3rd EUROFRESH China Fresh Produce conference, to debate on the latest China market opportunities and best “value-trend” strategies for fresh produce.

WALMART CHINA, JD.COM, PAGODA & 30+ stores are among the speakers, as well e-commerce specialists ARCTIC solutions & FRUTACLOUD.

China’s imports of fresh fruit recorded growth of 26%, almost totalling 4.9 million tons. The long-term growth is fuelled by Chinese consumers’ preference for imported produce, the strong growth of every distribution channel, and the government policy of opening up to imports (protocols agreed). The US-China dispute also generates new opportunities for all of the other fresh produce exporting countries around the globe to increase their market share in China.

The 3rd FHC China Fresh Produce Conference is organised by Eurofresh Distribution magazine & UBM Sino Expo, and will be held at the FHC CHINA Expo on November 12th at 2pm. Eurofresh is a leading global publication on the fresh produce trade. It has been published for 20 years and covers 80 markets, has 20,000 newsletter subscribers and a print-run of 10,000 copies.

FHC CHINA is the leading China B2B exhibition. The 3rd edition of the FHC China Fresh Produce Conference will feature the participation of more than 3,000 fresh exhibitors and 120,000 visitors from the fresh produce sector, food & drinks suppliers and buyers from all the distribution channels in China. More information at







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Asia & Middle East featured this Wednesday 10th at Macfrut by Eurofresh Distribution conference, May 10th

Key industry leaders from China, India and the UAE to give their visions and recommendations, May 10th 14H40 in Rimini.

Key industry leaders from China, India and the UAE to give their visions and recommendations, May 10th 14H40 in Rimini.

Organized by EUROFRESH DISTRIBUTION magazine and MACFRUT expo on May 10th in the afternoon, the aim of the conference is to debate market opportunities, constraints and recommendations for a better “value chain” with the Middle East and Asian markets. Leading importers, retailers and experts in e-commerce are invited from the UAE, India and China. They will explain the latest consumer and market trends in their countries, with their analyses of the opportunities given by the different distribution channels:

1/ “Market overview, distribution channels and growing trends” by EUROFRESH DISTRIBUTION editor, Pierre Escodo.

2/ “Premium produce, a rising demand in the Gulf” by DANUBE SUPERMARKETS (BIN DAWOOD) head of procurement, Ahmed Ali.

3/ “Raising standards and driving new customers in the UAE” by Elite Agro LLC purchase manager, James Varghese.

4/ “Indian market reality and opportunities” by Suri Agro Fresh Jt. Managing Director, Hitin Suri.

5/ “Market access, the next doors to be opened”, by CSO market expert, Simona Rubbi.

6/ “China retail, priority and growth with imported brands” by CR VANGUARD head of perishables procurement, Mike Li.

7/ “The new Asian distribution channels; how to approach them” by FRUTA CLOUD manager George Liu.

8/ “Online & Offline, New retail phenomenon in China” by HEMA SUPERMARKET (ALIBABA) head of procurement, Paul Sheh.

9/ “Best Channels for Fresh Food and using KOLs to your full advantage”” by ARCTIC SOLUTIONS CEO Bjorn vd Veen.

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Read our latest edition

ED142 cover - Edited

The latest edition of Eurofresh Distribution magazine has now been published, featuring the latest news and analysis of trends across the value chain for fresh fruit and vegetables.

Eurofresh Distribution is a printed and digital magazine dedicated to the production, distribution and retail of fresh fruit and vegetables. Its global span includes Europe and North America, as well as Russia, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America. The magazine provides international coverage of the retail sector and its produce purchasing strategies, the major developed markets and their regulatory affairs, developing economies and related market opportunities, as well as of leading fresh produce growers, suppliers, packers, exporters and buyers. News of consumer trends, new products, the latest post-harvest technology and other innovation in the fresh produce sector is also included.

Read the March-April 2016 issue, number 142, online here.