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Australia targets European organic markets

Australia targets European organic markets © tradeorganic.au
© tradeorganic.au

 

The Australian government has taken a further step to promote the country’s organic agriculture by providing €60,000 in funding for industry body Australian Organics to support exporters targeting German, Swedish and UK markets. Australian Organics will use the grant to support trade of organic products through a national education programme, which will include a series of webinars on a new online platform.

David Littleproud, Australia’s minister for agriculture, said the sessions will provide free resources and information to certified organic operators interested in targeting Europe. “On 20 October, Australian Organic will launch its export country-specific webinar series to be conducted virtually via Zoom. These initial webinars held over three days will focus on Germany, Sweden and the United Kingdom, all potentially lucrative markets for our farmers of certified organic produce. Each webinar will cover a range of export-related content including market selection strategies, market access, organic certification and market specific consumer trends.”

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European apple leaders set sights on Asia

European apple leaders set sights on Asia

 

Apples took centre stage this month at the Asia Fruit Logistica ON virtual conference. Speakers from across the sector noted that demand is constantly increasing in Asia for European apples, with predictions of a significant expansion in the next decade. According to Wayne Prowse of Fresh Intelligence Consulting, ASEAN markets imported 900,000 tons in 2019, with India leading the way, importing 250,000 tons (-11%). China remains the largest apple supplier to Asia, exporting 915,000 tons in 2019, up 37%. Europe exported 179,000 tons to Asia in 2019, mainly to India and Malaysia. Tariffs on US fruit and bans on Chinese apples mean that Europe is now the number-one apple exporter to India.

Marc Peyres of Blue Whale said that European suppliers are focusing more on new varieties that are tailored to the specific tastes of Asian markets, such as Candine. Meanwhile, Italy’s leading apple exporters have created the FROM partnership to join forces in certain markets such as India. Nicola Zanotelli, director of FROM, noted that they were developing a specific taste for the market, while promoting brands, enhancing storable quality and shortening transit time.

 

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Europe’s crop protection industry lays out 2030 Commitments

Europe's crop protection industry lays out 2030 Commitments
© ECPA

 

Europe’s crop protection industry (ECPA) has established a set of ambitious commitments to support Europe’s new Green Deal, including an investment of over €14 billion in new technologies and more sustainable products by 2030. In addition to this investment, ECPA also plans to ramp up waste collection and increase the levels of training among farmers in Europe as part of its response to the EU’s Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies.

Géraldine Kutas, European Crop Protection Association Director General, said: “With its ambitious European Green Deal, the European Commission has fired the starting gun for the EU’s run towards a more sustainable, climate-neutral future. We are serious about contributing and aligning with the Green Deal policy initiatives which is why our companies have joined together to set our own voluntary, sector-specific, measurable goals in their support.”

The six commitments adopted by ECPA will guide the sector for the next decade in key areas of agricultural innovative technologies, the circular economy and better protection of people and the environment:

  • Innovation & Investment: By supporting innovation and the deployment of digital and precision tools as well as biopesticides, we further the European Commission’s ambition of a digital and green recovery. By 2030 we will be investing 10 billion euros into innovation in precision and digital technologies and 4 billion euros into innovation in biopesticides. All the investment the industry is committing to is only useful if there is the appropriate regulatory framework allowing the innovation to reach the European farmers.

  • Circular Economy: By increasing the collection rate of the empty pesticides plastic containers to 75% and establishing a collection scheme in the EU Member States that currently have none by 2025, we will contribute to the EU’s goal of a circular economy that aims at minimising waste and resources used, lessening the environmental impact of plastic packaging.

  • Protecting People & Environment: By training farmers on the implementation of Integrated Pest Management, water protection and the importance of personal protective equipment (PPE), our industry desires to further minimise exposure and reduce the risks of pesticide use, all while contributing to the overall goals of the Sustainable Use Directive and EU Farm to Fork strategies aiming at producing enough food sustainably.

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First Vietnamese passionfruit set sail for European shores

First Vietnamese passionfruit set sail for European shores

 

The recently signed EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) is already bearing fruit, with Vietnam dispatching its first shipment of passionfruit to Europe. As Nhan Dan Online reports, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) announced on 16 September alongside exporter Dong Giao Foodstuff Export Joint Stock Company that 100 tons of passionfruit were on their way to the Netherlands.

At a ceremony organised to celebrate the achievement, Vietnam’s deputy minister of agriculture and rural development, Le Quoc Doanh, praised Dong Giao for its work as part of Vietnam’s efforts to boost passionfruit exports, which have increased 300% in the past five years. The minister said that Vietnam’s access to markets such as Europe, which have strict quality and quarantine protocols, should enable the country to secure access to other major world markets.

 

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RSA citrus industry limits exports to EU

RSA citrus industry limits exports to EU

 

South Africa has decided to cease exports of specific types of citrus from certain regions in the country to the European Union early this season. The South African government has been asked not to inspect any more shipments of fruit from these regions after 12 September. An industry announcement stated: “At times in the past, the South African citrus industry has voluntarily suspended certain exports to limit potential interceptions of citrus black spot (CBS) symptomatic fruit at the tail end of the season and to protect the long term sustainability of the EU market. Experience has shown that the prevalence of CBS interceptions increases in this period, particularly on late Valencia oranges.”

According to the statement South Africa received 12 notifications of false codling moth (FCM) interceptions from the EU and has implemented stricter measures to mitigate the risk of additional FCM interceptions.

“Although there is only one CBS interception in the EU so far this season, there is a need to also mitigate the total number of interceptions,” the statement read.

The decision was taken by the Citrus Growers’ Association’s (CGA) disaster management committee. In a notice to citrus growers, the committee said the move is a proactive and diligent intervention to demonstrate the industry’s responsible and sustainable risk mitigation.

According to the statement the intervention will be enacted through automatic withdrawal of EU registration of affected orchards on the industry’s PhytClean system, which plays a key role in orchard inspections for fruit exported to the EU.

This will mean that the certification body, PPECB, will not inspect any citrus fruit of the affected types and production regions for shipment to Europe after midnight on 12 September.  

The statement stressed the CBS free areas of the Western and Northern Cape are exempt from the ruling, as well as the low risk Gamtoos and Katriver production regions in the Eastern Cape. Mandarins and other soft citrus are also exempted as a low risk citrus type.

 

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Apples from Europe at the market of UAE

Apples from Europe at the market of UAE
PRESS RELEASE

 

Association of Polish Distributors Fruit and Vegetables “Unia Owocowa” is pleased to announce that the second year of the promotional campaign “The power of taste, vitamins and colors – get to know the quality of Apples from Europe”, implementing in the United Arab Emirates, has started. “We hope that it will be a fruitful year both in terms of promotional activities and in terms of a successful harvest of European apples and increasing our exports to the United Arab Emirates.

The world is now in a difficult position due to the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic, which also left its mark on our campaign. Some of our activities have been postponed, but not canceled. The study tour of the Emirati fruit importers and the media will take place as soon as the world situation normalizes and it is possible to fly normally. We also plan to promote European apples in Emirati shopping centers, which will probably take place this winter”, states the Association’s press release.

The promotional campaign “The power of taste, vitamins and colors – discover the quality of apples from Europe” aims to promote European apples, increase their competitiveness and consumption on the United Arab Emirates market and the re-export markets from the UAE.

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European Bioplastics criticises biased interpretation of EEA Study on biodegradable and compostable plastics: Consumers do understand value and proper end-of-life of compostable plastics

European Bioplastics criticises biased interpretation of EEA Study on biodegradable and compostable plastics: Consumers do understand value and proper end-of-life of compostable plastics

Berlin, 9 September 2020 – In response to the new report “Biodegradable and compostable plastics – challenges and opportunities” by the European Environment Agency (EEA), European Bioplastics (EUBP) highlights the need to acknowledge successful precedents in the deployment of these innovative materials in collaboration with a receptive community of consumers. Unfortunately, several media outlets made use of a biased interpretation of the report to draw a distorted picture of biodegradable and compostable plastics.

François de Bie, Chairman of EUBP, stated “In several respects, the EEA report is laudable in its objectives to provide information about the types of biodegradable products available, their labelling and their properties. It also accurately highlights the need to raise awareness about the different packaging solutions to ensure proper sorting and collection of waste”. In terms of additional benefits, the EEA correctly notes that contamination with conventional plastics is an increasing challenge for compost quality and emphasises that substituting conventional plastics with certified compostable plastics can significantly help in reducing this risk. Indeed, compostable plastics are essential in this respect of recovery and recycling, since no other economically viable solutions will be available for food-contaminated plastics in the near future.

The report correctly highlights that using compostable plastic bags increases the capture rate of food waste, since consumers find them convenient and practical to use. Many municipalities and waste collectors are, therefore, already recommending or requiring the use of certified compostable plastic bags for collecting bio-waste. In agriculture, biodegradable mulch films, which help by contributing towards sustainable farming practices, are also identified as a key solution in avoidng long-term plastic accumulation in soil.

However, on the consumer side the report also casts doubt around the potential for understanding how and where bioplastics should be dealt with when it comes to end-of-life options. It neglects to reflect that all biodegradable plastics, with the exception of agricultural mulch films which are recycled in situ, are clearly intended for organic recycling. Whilst opponents of bioplastics often claim that consumers will be unable to differentiate between bioplastics intended for home or industrial composting, the evidence points to the contrary where clear labelling, communication and effective sorting are put in place.[1] Unfortunately, however, media coverage almost exclusively focused on this single aspect. In contrast, EEA’s related assessment, that there is no evidence supporting the fear that consumers might misunderstand biodegradability or compostability claims as a ‘license to litter’, was ignored.

Although mechanical recycling provides solutions for certain applications, it is far from a “one size fits all“ answer to the question of how to ensure that plastics fulfil their potential in a circular economy. In fact, the reality is more complex with multiple solutions needed in order to enable resource efficiency, as outlined in a recent report from Systemiq and the Pew Charitable Trust.[2] In this respect, organic recycling represents unparalleled potential for diverting unavoidable food waste from landfill, facilitating the shift towards a circular economy and bringing benefits for more sustainable agriculture through the generation of high-quality compost for soil enrichment.

In order to accelerate the transition towards a greener economy, European Bioplastics calls on all relevant stakeholders to have a constructive dialogue over biodegradable and compostable plastics that is science rather than ideology based.

[1] E.g. in the Milan area the collection of biowaste using compostable plastics is mandatory since 2012. In particular, Italy has demonstrated that compostable plastics are efficiently collected and recycled in composting facilities, as recently reported by the Italian Composting Consortium (in Italian: https://www.compost.it/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/CS-4-Studio-CIC-COREPLA-2020_-raddoppiano-le-bioplastiche-compostabili-nella-raccolta-dell%E2%80%99organico-5.pdf; https://drive.google.com/file/d/1jd9zUI6Tu0XvV_jUzbdqhlIs2s8KX4MV/view).

[2] Pew Charitable Trust, Systemiq: Breaking the Plastic Wave, 2020 (https://www.systemiq.earth/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/BreakingThePlasticWave_MainReport.pdf).

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Europe readies itself for future food crises

Interview with Philippe Binard, general secretary of Freshfel Europe
Philippe Binard, Freshfel Europe’s general delegate

 

Over 200 representatives of Europe’s food industry and the public sector gathered for the ESSA (European Sprouted Seeds Association) and Freshfel Europe’s Food Crisis Management Event this week to study previous crises and prepare to respond to future hypothetical scenarios through closer cooperation. 

Freshfel Europe’s general delegate, Philippe Binard, said, “The fresh produce sector strives for good practices in production and trade. However, this is reliant on a high level of cooperation with authorities and other actors.” 

Attendees discussed how previous food crises were handled in terms of food hygiene and food fraud issues, as well as the nefarious impact of misinformation and the need for greater transparency. 

“Transparency plays a big role in crisis management. It is based on a long-term confidence between public and private stakeholders. During the crisis and recovery period, good and consistent communication is essential. All stakeholders involved in a crisis should set up communication tools among each other as well as to the public. European and national authorities play a big role in informing the public, as well as in restoring consumers’ confidence,” said Binard.

Similarly, ESSA’s secretary general, Eglė Baecke, stressed that cooperation must be a “continuous process and applied in practice, such as through crisis simulation exercises.”

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CGC calls on Madrid and Brussels to work to remove US tariffs

CGC calls on Madrid and Brussels to work to remove US tariffs

 

On July 24, Airbus announced that it was denouncing the aid that was declared illegal by the World Trade Organization (WTO). As confirmed shortly after by the European Commission (EC), the Governments of Spain, France and Germany then agreed with the European aeronautical manufacturer to modify the terms of the repayable credits granted to the firm, in order to reflect market conditions and try to settle the trade dispute with the US and with the company from that country, Boeing. 

The EU-US trade dispute relating to subsidies to US firm Airbus, led to retaliatory measures from the US against European agri-food products. Since October 2019, a 25% tariff has effectively kicked out Spanish citrus (mainly clementines) from the US market, as well as great damage to other Spanish products such as olive oil, wine and cheeses.

Despite the dispute being resolved, the tariffs are still in place, which is why Spain’s Citrus Management Committee (CGC) calls on the Spanish Government and the EC to act to accelerate the reopening and allow resumption of affected agri-food exports, including oranges from September. In a press release, the CGC argues that failure to act quickly will make it difficult for operators to organise the logistics necessary to negotiate new supply programmes to the US.

The EU is in favour of a negotiated solution. However, if there is no agreement, Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan has warned that “the EU will be ready to exercise its rights to impose sanctions.” Hogan was referring to the forthcoming ruling of the WTO, which must promptly determine whether the measures granted by the US to Boeing can be replicated in the EU. CGC president, Inmaculada Sanfeliu, said, “If Europe really wants to end this trade war, an agreement should now be closed. The agri-food sector in general and citrus fruits in particular are the major victims of Europe’s geopolitical decisions.”

Photo: MINCOTUR / Reyes Maroto & Phil Hogan

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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.