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EU ends ban on Argentine citrus imports

EU ends ban on Argentine citrus imports © Plantaciones de Limon

© Plantaciones de Limon


The European Commission has lifted its ban on citrus imports from Argentina. Trade was suspended last August following a number of interceptions of Citrus Black Spot in shipments. Argentina’s plant health authority Senasa said the new measure would come into effect on 1 May.

Senasa’s president, Carlos Paz, said the lifting of the ban followed concerted efforts by the public and private sectors to strengthen control measures in the field and packhouse and increase the number of staff on its regional teams in order to improve the monitoring and supervision of citrus exports.

Citrus accounts for four out of every ten fruits that Argentina exports and the EU is one of its biggest markets, taking around 200,000 tons of citrus in the last five years.

The measures and conditions for the re-entry of citrus fruit to the EU include additional actions that must be carried out both by the different actors of the private and public sectors.

These include mandatory field application of phytosanitary treatments against Black Spot; official verification of the application of these treatments; laboratory analysis of the fruit sampled both in the field and in packaging when suspicious symptoms of the disease are detected; official communication to the EU of the lists of production units and names of the companies responsible for the units, as well as updates to these lists.

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EU consumers prioritise taste, food safety and cost over sustainability

EU consumers prioritise taste, food safety and cost over sustainability © EU Commission

The European Commission has released the latest Eurobarometer on EU citizens expectations related to food. This EU-wide survey found that taste, food safety and cost are the main factors influencing Europeans’ food purchases. This survey also gives indication about what European consumers consider a sustainable food or diet.

The Eurobarometer highlights seven key findings:

  1. Europeans prioritise taste, food safety and cost over sustainability concerns when purchasing food.
  2. Sustainable food and diets are primarily associated with nutrition and health.
  3. The majority of Europeans say they eat a healthy and sustainable diet most of the time, however responses vary greatly by country.
  4. Affordability and availability of healthy, sustainable choices and clear information on food labelling are the most likely factors to help Europeans adopt a sustainable diet.
  5. Food producers and manufacturers are seen as key actors in making the food system sustainable, above public authorities, but not all Europeans recognize their own role as consumers.
  6. Almost all Europeans call on the public and private sectors to improve access to sustainable food and to provide information on food sustainability on food labels.
  7. Clear information about food and its importance for health are also reflected in citizens’ concerns about food fraud.


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European Commission presents results of study on organic agriculture in developing countries

European Commission presents results of study on organic agriculture in developing countries © European Commission

© European Commission


The European Commission held an online conference on organic agriculture in developing countries on 27th January. Under the title: ‘A realistic pathway? Evidence from long-term systems research’, the results of 12 years of comparative farming systems research in Kenya, Bolivia and India were presented to provide scientific evidence on economic and ecological sustainability of organic and conventional systems. 

The findings illustrate how organic systems and other agroecological approaches can contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 SDGs aim to end poverty and other deprivations. There is substantial evidence illustrating that dominant agricultural management practices are not sustainable for the future. 

Organic agriculture is proposed as an alternative, but its performance under tropical conditions is questioned as long-term studies are scarce. The conference addressed whether organic agriculture is a realistic pathway for smallholders in the Global South and if it can support the transformation of food systems. Furthermore, it addressed some key issues of the SDGs such as responsible consumption and production as well as eliminating poverty and hunger. 

The report ‘What is the contribution of organic agriculture to sustainable development? A synthesis of twelve years (2007-2019) of the long-term farming systems comparisons in the tropics (SysCom)’ was launched and the results presented at the conference. Finally, the results were reflected in the view of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) with regards to its work on agroecology.

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European Commission publishes roadmap for new Food Information to Consumers Regulation

European Commission publishes roadmap for new Food Information to Consumers Regulation


On December 23, 2020, the European Commission published a roadmap outlining its intention to revise the Food Information to Consumers Regulation. The revision will tackle front of pack nutrition labelling, nutrient profiles, origin labelling and date marking. Stakeholders can comment on the roadmap until February 3, 2021.

As part of the Farm to Fork Strategy (F2F), the Commission announced that it would take a number of actions to reduce the environmental and climate footprint of the EU food system and facilitate the shift to healthy and sustainable diets. This will be done through the revision of the FIC Regulation. These actions include:

  • Harmonised mandatory front-of-pack nutrition labelling;

  • The setting of ‘nutrient profiles’ restricting the promotion (via nutrition and health claims) of foods that are high in fats, sugars and/or salt;

  • The extension of mandatory origin or provenance indications to certain products;

  • A revision of the EU rules on date marking (‘use by’ and ‘best before’).

With this roadmap, the Commission said that it will prepare an impact assessment in 2021. The impact assessment will assess and compare the potential impacts of the different policy options described in the roadmap. A legislative proposal is foreseen for the fourth quarter of 2022

The Commission has identified foods for which consumers have particular interest to know where they are coming. These include potatoes and tomatoes.

TAGS: European Commission, Farm to Fork, Food Information to Consumers Regulation

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Freshfel calls on EC for more financial support for marketing

Freshfel calls on EC for more financial support for marketing © Eurofresh Distribution
© Eurofresh Distribution


Freshfel Europe has pressed the European Commission to maintain a €200m promotional budget in its 2021 Annual Work Programme (AWP) and double the amount set aside for the fruit and vegetable sector to €16 million to promote European consumption.

Freshfel stressed the need to support the fruit and vegetable sector in times when it faced multiple challenges, such as Covid-19, Brexit, and intense competition on international markets. Freshfel Europe expressed strong concern about the European Commission’s initial budget allocation breakdown, noting that it included a highly disproportionate allocation of budget for organic and other EU quality schemes compared to their market shares. With EU consumption flat at around 345g per capita per day (below the WHO recommendation of at least 400g per day), Freshfel warned that the allocation breakdown would dangerously limit the capacity of general promotion activities to stimulate the consumption of fruit and vegetables. 

Freshfel Europe general delegate Philippe Binard, said, “Freshfel Europe strongly urges the European Commission to at least double the budget under Topic D for multi programmes on the internal market, focusing on increasing the consumption of fruit and vegetables in the EU in the context of balanced and proper dietary practices. This higher budget would allow more EU promotion activities in the coming years to build on the momentum that the upcoming 2021 UN International Year of Fruit and Vegetables will bring for the sector, and reinforce promotion activities promoting healthy sustainable diets.”

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AREFLH requests EU assistance for fresh produce sector


The Assembly of European Fruit, Vegetable and Horticultural Regions (AREFLH) has called on EU Commission President Von der Leyen to implement exceptional measures to respond to the consequences of the coronavirus health crisis.

Numerous member regions and their producer organisations met by videoconference on Wednesday 25 March to prepare a joint document to request the establishment of support measures for European producers of fruits and vegetables.

The situation is deeply worrying, particularly for certain productions that have already entered the harvest phase, while many regions have to face other difficulties, particularly with regard to the checks to be carried out with Producer Organisations (POs), made impossible because of confinement.

The priority actions and measures proposed by AREFLH relate to the following points:

The right to free movement of goods and workers in the EU: careful monitoring of disturbances in cross-border movements must be implemented as several restrictions persist between certain Member States, which leads to delays that have a negative impact on highly perishable goods such as fruits and vegetables. In addition, closer cooperation between EU countries is required to allow the movement of seasonal workers and their safety at work.

Approval of exceptional derogations for the management of operational programmes by producer organizations (POs) in the fruit and vegetables sector for the year 2020: with exceptions for on-site checks, derogations on green harvesting and non-harvesting measures, as well as an increase in community co-financing from 50 to 70% for all interventions, with the exception of free distribution (already 100% co-financed).

The activation of exceptional measures provided for by regulation (EU) n ° 2013/1308 on the common market organization, with the triggering of articles 219 and 222 to allow the adoption of delegated acts in order to take the measures necessary to deal with the current market disruptions (as was done for the E. Coli and Russian embargo crises).

The AREFLH states that these proposals can be implemented swiftly and with minimum budgetary adjustments, while delivering much-needed assistance to EU fruit and vegetable producers.

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Recovery of EU apple prices this season

Recovery of EU apple prices this season


EU apple prices during the ongoing campaign are significantly above the average for the past five years, due to the small crop. According to Wapa/Prognosfruit data, this campaign’s crop is down 20% from the preceding year and 11% below the 5-year average.  Compared to the challenging 2018/19 campaign (excess of supply in some Member States, especially in Poland), 2019/20 has seen a great recovery in the sector. EU apple stocks on 1st December 2019 were at their lowest level since 2012.

Although the average EU apple price this campaign is well above five-year average, there are some divergences between Member States. Poland’s prices have seen the greatest recovery. French apple prices are above average but lower than the preceding campaign, as the French crop is actually larger this season. Meanwhile, German prices were slightly above average and Italian prices have recovered gradually from a difficult end to the previous marketing year.

For prices to remain high, EU internal demand will need to stay high. A mild winter could thwart this aim by dampening demand.

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Outlook stable for EU F&V production


The European Commission has published a report outlining its forecast for the region’s fruit and vegetable sector. While apple production area is expected to decrease, volumes are estimated to rise slightly in 2030 to 12 million tons (from 11.3 million tons in 2019) thanks to increasing yields. As for peaches and nectarines, increasing competition is predicted from other summer fruits, leading to a further fall in consumption. EU production is expected to remain stable at 4 million tons in 2030 (compared to 4.1 million tons in 2019). Similarly, orange (6.2 million tons) and tomato (7 million tons) production is expected to remain stable over the ten-year period. However, demand will increasingly shift from concentrates to fresh orange juice, while demand for processed tomatoes is projected to rise.

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EU tackles unfair B2B food trading practices

European Commission proposal aims to ensure fairer treatment for farmers & SMEs

A draft EU law to help protect farmers from unfair trading practices in the food supply chain was presented by European Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan on April 12. Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) described the proposal as a landmark, but one that could yet be improved. The Commission proposal would ban the unfair trading practices (UTPs) considered most harmful to farmers. These are payments later than 30 days for perishable food products, last minute order cancellations, unilateral and retroactive contract changes, and making suppliers pay for wasted products. Member states would each have to designate a public watchdog to enforce the new rules and impose “effective, proportionate and dissuasive” fines for infringement.

The goal is to reduce the occurrence of UTPs in the food supply chain by introducing a minimum common standard of protection across the EU. The protection covers small and medium-sized agricultural producers (including their producer organisations) and other small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the chain who sell food products to buyers who are not small or medium-sized. Other practices will also be banned unless allowed in an upfront agreement between the parties. These are buyers returning unsold food products to suppliers; buyers charging suppliers for stocking, displaying or listing a food product; and obliging suppliers to pay towards a buyer’s promotion or marketing campaigns. Of note, SME food producers supplying large EU buyers would be able to invoke the rules and complain anonymously about abusive practices whether based inside or outside the EU. In the proposal, the Commission says there is a widespread consensus that UTPs occur throughout the food supply chain. Agricultural producers are particularly vulnerable as they often lack the bargaining power of the downstream players that buy their products and they have limited alternatives for getting their products to consumers.

More price transparency across EU food chain

Hogan said the proposal is “fundamentally about fairness and about farmers,” He also said it was historic, being the first time the Commission had proposed legislation in this area. He added it will be followed by measures to improve market transparency. This is expected to include, by the end of 2018, moves to increase sharing of data, such as on farmgate and other prices in the food supply chain, in addition to the Commission’s existing market observatories and dashboards. The Commission has also signalled supporting measures to promote consolidation – such as the formation of producer cooperatives without fear of contravening competition laws – in the highly fragmented farming sector. The initiative comes in the wake of a European Parliament resolution in June 2016 calling on the Commission to propose legislation to tackle UTPs in the food supply chain. In its motion for the resolution, Parliament noted the fruit and vegetable sector is among those where farmers and cooperatives face an extremely critical situation. At that time, Members (MEPs) stressed that selling below the cost of production, and the serious misuse of basic agricultural foods such as fruit and vegetables as ‘loss leaders’ by large-scale retailers, threaten the long-term sustainability of EU production of such items. They urged the Commission to put forward proposals against UTPs so as to ensure fair earnings for farmers and a wide choice for consumers, and to ensure fair and transparent trade relations among food producers, suppliers and distributors. Fair trading should in turn help to prevent overproduction and food waste, they also said.

Initial reactions broadly positive

Farm groups, agricultural NGOs and politicians have generally described the plan as an important step in the right direction, while some distributors and retailers argue it would reduce competition and see consumers pay even more for food. According to Eureporter, Oxfam, Fair Trade Advocacy Office and IFOAM-EU welcomed the move but called on the European Parliament and Council to strengthen the proposal. Friends of the Earth Europe argued for complementary measures to support direct sales and short food supply chains. FoodDrinkEurope called for the proposal to be widened to cover not only SMEs but all players in the supply chain. Similarly, European Parliament AGRI rapporteur Paolo De Castro also said the proposal was constructive but should encompass all agricultural production, including flowers and feed. Copa-Cogeca chief policy advisor Paulo Gouveia said it is important to address the “fear factor” that often prevents complaints and called for additional measures including modernisation of competition law.

What now

The two co-legislators, the European Parliament and European Council, will separately discuss amendments to the Commission proposal in coming months with a view to a common position and then final text being agreed before the Parliament elections next May. It would probably then be at least 1.5 years before the directive is transcribed into national laws in each EU state. Meanwhile, stakeholders can provide feedback on the plan until June 14.


About the proposal

The European Commission has asked the Parliament and Council to issue a directive on unfair trading practices (UTPs) in B2B relationships in the food supply chain.
UTPs to be banned:
1. Payments later than 30 days for perishable food products
2. Short-notice cancellation of orders for perishable foods
3. Unilateral and retroactive contract changes
4. Forcing suppliers to pay for wasted products
5. Unsold product risk transferred to supplier Parties’ *
6. Payments for stocking, displaying and listing agreement matters *
7. Contributions to buyer’s promotion campaign *
8. Contributions to buyer’s marketing campaign *

* parties’ agreement matters

  • SMEs are enterprises employing less than 250 people and which have annual turnover not above €50 million, and/or an annual balance sheet total not above €43 million.
  • A directive is a legal act of the EU requiring member states to achieve a particular result without dictating the means of achieving it.

UTP example
It is not uncommon that following an order given, a producer organisation prepares a batch (with the required grading, packaging and labelling) for which the quantities are revised downwards by the buyer (a retailer or its buying subsidiary) after the batch has left the packing station (e.g. to take into account short term fluctuation of demand at retail stage, in a just-in-time logistic approach). This means that the supplier (i) has to find an alternative outlet (usually at lower price, e.g. on a wholesale market) (ii) has to usually regrade and repack the goods not at its own premises implying extra costs and (iii) lose freshness of the product. In such cases, risks (short term fluctuation of demand) and related costs are entirely passed to the supplier (in many cases a farmer or a producer organisation) and directly result in an income decrease.

Why no outright ban on supplier contributions to retail promotions
Banning suppliers’ contributions to promotions as a general rule could cause losses to suppliers because consumers might instead buy other products, such as ones that were promoted instead. For example, if suppliers of fresh fruit and veg couldn’t contribute to promotions, retailers would have to bear the entire cost of them and might deflect the promotions to other categories of products, such as processed food products, thus negatively affecting sales of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Source: Commission document assessing the potential impact of the proposal for the UTP directive (Brussels, 12.4.2018, SWD(2018) 92 final)

Find out more:
Follow the proposal’s progress in the EU Parliament:

Main photo: EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan (© European Union , 2018 / Source: EC – Audiovisual Service / Photo: Lukasz Kobus) 


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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%).