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Czech parliament votes to reject quota on imported food in supermarkets

Czech parliament votes to reject quota on imported food in supermarkets
Photo: AP Photo/Petr David Josek

Czech lawmakers have rejected plans to require supermarkets to sell mainly domestically produced food, removing the measure from a bill on food quality to avoid clashes with the European Commission over EU single market rules, reports European Supermarket Magazine.

Parliament’s lower house approved a Senate version of a Food Act bill that included an amendment abolishing quotas, which had been placed in the legislation when lawmakers first voted in January. The overall bill is aimed at preventing double standards in food, an issue that some formerly communist eastern members of the European Union have pursued for years, contending that inferior food products unwanted by consumers in richer Western EU states were being sold in poorer Eastern markets.

Most lawmakers voted to remove the quotas on Tuesday after backlash from other European Union members. Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis also voiced opposition after its surprise passage in January. One of the Czech Republic’s largest food producers is Agrofert, a conglomerate that includes farming, chemicals, food processing and media firms that was owned by Babis until he placed it into trust funds in 2017.

The quotas would have forced shops larger than 400 square metres to offer at least 55% of items that can be locally produced, like fruit, vegetables, milk or meat. The quotas’ rejection was welcomed by business groups like the Czech Confederation of Commerce, which had argued it would work against competitiveness in shops.

Opponents also argued they would give windfall profits to large domestic producers, raise prices, cause shortages and violate EU internal market rules, which could lead to sanctions. The Commission said in January local restrictions were counterproductive to the free movement of goods that ensures food security.


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Cibus 2021 to restart the Italian food sector in early September

Cibus 2021 to restart the Italian food sector in early September © Cibus

© Cibus


Following responses to two surveys, one among exhibiting companies and the other among Italian and foreign buyers, Fiere di Parma and Federalimentare have set the dates for Cibus 2021: the first week of September, from Tuesday 31 August to Friday 3 September. An evaluation of the vaccination process in Italy and the organisation of air corridors for foreign buyers also contributed to the decision.

It is hoped that the 20th edition of Cibus 2021, the International Food Exhibition, will be the fair to restart the Italian agri-food industry, the first showcase of the year for national food & beverage. The new products that will drive the recovery of domestic consumption and international exports will be exhibited, in all product categories: from cured meats to cheeses, from pasta to tomatoes, from oil to baked goods, from beverages to grocery, from frozen foods to products clubs, and more.

The reopening of Cibus (the 2020 edition was cancelled due to the pandemic) coincides with a resumption of agri-food exports: Istat data, processed by Federalimentare, already report a decent performance in 2020 (+0.1 % in the first 10 months of 2020), which should evolve into significant growth in the first half of 2021. A figure that bodes well for a large influx of international buyers, so much so that a record budget has been allocated to favour incoming (travel and permanence of foreign buyers). 

About 3,000 Italian exhibiting companies are expected at Cibus 2021, and all the players in the agri-food chain will be present. The fair will therefore represent an opportunity to analyse the great changes accelerated by the pandemic, both in terms of production and consumption. The conferences will be organised in a single and coherent framework, called “Cibus Forum”, also to underline the continuity with what was elaborated in the last Cibus Forum in September 2020.

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Guaranteed traceability of all frozen imported foods in Beijing 

Guaranteed traceability of all frozen imported foods in Beijing 
Photo: Global Times

The Beijing Cold Chain Food Traceability Platform has expanded to include all imported foods stored below or at zero degrees Celsius. Consumers can use the WeChat social media app to scan tracking codes in stores and find product information relating to safety and traceability, entry inspection and quarantine certificates, Covid-19 test results, and disinfection certificates.

The measures will go some way to assuaging consumer fears about imported foods after scares relating to Covid-19 associated with imported frozen products, including frozen vegetables, frozen fruits and frozen fruit juices. 


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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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17% of France’s specialist organic stores owned by major retailers

17% of France’s specialist organic stores owned by major retailers © Claire Tillier

© Claire Tillier


France’s leading 100% organic brands Biocoop, Naturalia and La Vie Claire performed very well in 2019, thanks to continued store openings and increasingly aggressive communication. However, smaller brands are suffering from the increasingly fierce competition.

According to a study published by Les Échos Études on the distribution of organic food products in France, a steady growth rate is predicted over the next five years. Enthusiasm for organic products remains strong, as has been the case for the past decade, during which the market for organic products registered double-digit annual growth. Organics are now firmly part of the habits of French consumers, with 47% of them being regular consumers of organic products in 2019, compared to 37% in 2015.

The strengthening of eco-responsible practices during the Covid-19 crisis has benefited the organic sector, with strong growth recorded across all distribution channels. Organic foods attracted 8% more new buyers during the lockdown period (source: Spirit Insight study for Agence Bio). However the economic downturn could dampen this enthusiasm, with the risk of price battles. The economic consequences of the health crisis are leading to more polarised consumption patterns, with consumers torn between the need to save money and a desire for more responsible and healthy consumption.

The French organic market is dominated by large-scale retailers and specialist organic stores. But in recent years, supermarkets have taken market share from the 100% organic brands. The organic range on offer in supermarkets has grown considerably. In 2019, large-scale retail accounted for nearly 55% of revenues generated from sales of organic food products. Meanwhile, the major retailers have also strengthened their position in the specialist organic channels through their own brands, launching new concepts such as Casino Bio at the end of 2019 or Le Marché Bio Leclerc in 2018, or by buying out existing players, as in the case where Carrefour took over in 2018 and Bio c’ Bon in 2020. As of 2019, 17% of France’s specialist organic stores were owned by major retailers.

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Supermarket customers to face £3bn in tariffs in no-deal scenario

Supermarket customers to face £3bn in tariffs in no-deal scenario

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has warned that supermarkets will face over £3 billion in tariffs if the UK leaves the EU without a trade deal and that these costs will be passed onto consumers. Both the UK and the EU stated on Friday that there is a “strong possibility” that there will be no post-Brexit trade deal between the two parties. Johnson however added that a no-deal scenario, similar to the relationship that Australia has with the EU, would still be “very good”.

If a no-deal Brexit goes ahead, supermarket chains will face new import taxes on goods from the EU, particularly fresh food. The BRC estimates that 85% of food imported from the EU will face tariffs of over 5%. The average tariff would be more than 20%, including 16% on cucumbers and 10% on lettuce. 

BRC director of food and sustainability Andrew Opie said: “With just weeks to go, it is alarming that there has still been no deal agreed with the EU, putting customers in line for a £3bn tariff bombshell. Currently, four-fifths of UK food imports come from the EU and without a tariff-free deal, supermarkets and their customers face over £3bn in tariffs from 2021. Retailers are doing everything they can in time for 1 January but no amount of preparation for retailers can entirely prevent disruption to food and other essential goods that come from or through the EU.” 

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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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Turkey: gateway to Africa

Turkey: gateway to Africa

The most prestigious companies of the Turkish food and beverage industry will meet buyers from 54 African countries at the CNR Expo Istanbul Expo Centre between December 2-5, 2020. The companies operating in numerous industries, particularly the food and beverage industry, will come together with hundreds of buyer delegations and thousands of professional buyers from the organisations in the public and private sectors in Africa at Export Gateway to Africa, organised by CNR Holdings.

The Turkish food and beverage industry will showcase products to establish new business connections with the African continent or enhance trade capacities at Export Gateway to Africa. The exhibition will host all the African countries with the newest and biggest trade potential in the world and double the total export number of US$24 billion.

Export Gateway to Africa will also welcome locomotive industries of export such as building and building materials, industrial products, agriculture, agricultural machinery, ceramics, furniture, home textile, health, oral and dental health products as well as the food and beverage industries.

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WorldFood Istanbul: the gateway to Turkey’s food and drink industry

WorldFood Istanbul: the gateway to Turkey’s food and drink industry

Always a big favourite with foreign food and drink producers, WorldFood Istanbul will be opening its doors to international businesses once more in 2020. So far, the show has confirmed participation from companies from around the globe – ready to take part in the WorldFood brand’s unique VIP buyers programme and Retail Centre. WorldFood Istanbul, the international meeting point of the Turkish food industry, will introduce many new products to the food world at the TUYAP Fair, Convention and Congress Centre on September 2-5, 2020. Over 1,000 brands will take part in the international food products and processing technologies exhibition, organised by the Turkish office of the Hyve Group. WorldFood Istanbul is the largest meeting point for the food industry and it continues to grow with the support of various key associations.

For visitors, the show offers a wining mixture of:

  • Exposure to new innovations and products hitting the market
  •  Access to international and domestic companies
  • Opportunities to forge relationships with suppliers and manufacturers

WorldFood Istanbul exhibitors are amongst the finest manufacturers of food & drink products in the world, covering an enormous range of sectors and niches. By exhibiting at WorldFood, companies get the chance to meet buyers from across Turkey and the wider world, establish new deals and grow their sales in a formidable market.

  • 500 exhibitors
  • 20,746 visitors
  • 87% increase in international visitors
  • $330 million+ business volume

WorldFood Istanbul exhibitors represent the whole food & drink industry, including all major sectors, as well as specific niches. This includes actual food & drink products, transportation solutions and health goods. With such a product offering, it’s little wonder the show attracts thousands of professional visitors each year for peerless selling and networking opportunities.


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US$200bn extra spent on food and groceries in 2020 due to Covid-19

US$200bn extra spent on food and groceries in 2020 due to Covid-19

The current pandemic is expected to lead to an additional US$ 203billion spent on food and groceries around the world in 2020, with the total spend now expected to reach US$9.4tn, according to data analytics company GlobalData.

Thomas Brereton, retail analyst at GlobalData, said, “Coronavirus has transformed the way consumers across the world are buying groceries, both in terms of the amount being bought and channel choice. Less or no dining out has meant more people are dedicating time to home cooking (with 43.3 per cent of global consumers stating they are cooking more at home), resulting in much higher sales at supermarkets. Covid-19 has also been a catalyst for growth in the online grocery channel, with 28.9 per cent of global consumers now buying groceries more online. While this will be particularly impactful in countries with a previously low online grocery presence, such as China and India, even countries with a more mature online grocery market will see growth peak substantially. 

The UK online grocery retail market is expected to grow 25.5% this year, well ahead of the 10.2% growth previously forecast. But will grocery shopping habits remain changed in the long run?

“With most of the additional spend as a result of foodservice spend transference, how quickly restaurants and other food providers can reopen will be key; however, we expect that, for most of the world, demand for such services will remain subdued for much of 2020, and grocers will continue to gain sales as a result,” Brereton said.