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Spanish fresh produce exports fall in May

Spanish fresh produce exports fall in May

Spain registered a 16% drop in its export volumes of fresh produce during May, equivalent to a 5% fall in value, compared with May 2019. “According to Fepex, the marked decrease in fruit and vegetables exports in May was largely due to the increase in domestic consumption driven by the coronavirus and lockdown. Indeed, data from the Ministry of Agriculture showed that Spain’s household consumption grew in May.

According to Spain’s Customs and Tax Department data, the total volume was 1 million tons, worth €1.43 billion. Fruit exports were down 15% in volume Y-O-Y to 678,152 tons, but were worth 10% more in value at just over €1 billion. The most exported fruit in the May was watermelon, which recorded a 10% fall in volume to 148,724 tons, but a 41% rise in value (€112 million). Similarly, melon exports were down 13% in volume to 48,819 tons, but worth 15% more (€53.4 million). Strawberry exports remained stable at 48,995 tons, but were worth 7% more (€88 million).

Meanwhile, vegetable exports dropped both in terms of volume (-16.5%) and value (-6%) to 389,984 tons and €422 million respectively. Tomato exports were down 29% to 38,805 tons and were worth 21% less at €52 million. Pepper shipments fell 24% to 33,796 tons, worth €62 million (-11%). Lettuce exports were down 19% to 41,331 tons, but increased 8% in value to €39 million.

Photo: Mercamadrid
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BelOrta: responsive strategies to generate value chains

BelOrta: Emmer karton 500gr pack © BELORTA
© BELORTA

 

BelOrta reacted promptly to find solutions for varieties affected by Covid-19, offering more packaging formats and consumer campaigns and continuing to increase organics and specialties.

 

Belgium’s leading vegetable auction worked hard and quickly to shift products to the retail channel that were left unsold due to the closure of the food service channel. New consumer packaging formats and in-store promotions were promptly introduced, particularly for asparagus, cucumber, and lettuce specialties like Lollo Bionda. Overall, demand for packed products rose sharply. Recycled PET punnets, which had already been successfully introduced, became the most popular. “We have seen a shift back to packaging for hygienic reasons,” said Jo Lambrecht, marketing manager at BelOrta. More sustainable solutions were also introduced, such as cardboard-based banderoles for organic vine tomato. With the rise of the snacking trend, BelOrta has accelerated its shift from plastic to carton solutions, and now offers 500g buckets of snack tomato, peppers, radish and blueberry.

 

Higher volumes of vegetables with better-quality

A survey conducted by GfK in Belgium found that 38% of consumers are eating more vegetables and less meat than they were five years ago. Indeed, retail vegetable sales increased 20% over the same period, according to Lambrecht. BelOrta, too, has seen Belgian consumers shift towards local vegetables. The GfK survey also found that 24% of consumers are eating more local vegetables, a phenomenon that has accelerated since the Covid-19 outbreak. “We have observed a growing interest in consumers looking for recipes, with a higher number of visits to our website https://www.belorta.be/keuken,” said Lambrecht. Meanwhile, BelOrta has strengthened its cooperation with public radio and TV to raise awareness of fresh fruits and vegetables and local produce. One such example is TV cooking programme Un Zeste Local, which uses BelOrta vegetables. The auction has also supported the opening of summer parks, such as with the creation of “The BelOrta Farm” vegetable corners at the Plopsaland theme parks. The goal is to educate young children by showing how vegetables are grown. Product tastings are also taking place in three parks.

 

© Eurofresh Distribution

 

BelOrta supplies the widest assortment

The Flemish Minister of Agriculture was in Borgloon for the launch of the cherry season. During the ceremony, a cheque was presented as a donation to cancer research.  The next BelOrta Product Show will be held on October 8-9, where customers worldwide are invited to come and taste all of the BelOrta products in a single location. The firm, which supplies over 50 tomato varieties, has introduced several new vegetable varieties this season, like Sopropo bitter melon, sugar snap peas, and edamame (sweet soybean). BelOrta has also launched new packaging formats, such as the 2kg cherry box, as well as other products packaged in top-seal rPET punnets. Packing capacity has been increased at the company’s Borgloon and Zellik centres, with new top-seal lines.

A major campaign to promote the consumption of peppers has been launched in France, with brochures and gifts given out to consumers at points of sale. Also, from July 1st, a TV campaign will run on FLAM to promote Belgium’s organic produce, including its fruit and vegetables. 

 

© Eurofresh Distribution

 

More berries, tomatoes and organics

The shift from strawberries to other berries continues. This has been aided by the introduction of new varieties to extend the cultivation cycle of raspberries and blueberries. BelOrta has also increased its winter production of tomato specialties, like vine tomato, beeftomatoes and Ruby Red, with 5ha more glasshouse area under light to a total area of 90 ha. The auction also proposes more winter cucumbers, in total 7ha under light. What’s more, BelOrta aims to start exporting organic produce this season. The auction now offers organic blueberries, with 25.5ha of certified plantation in production. It has also increased supplies of organic endives, cucumbers and leek.  

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Adjustments on the US fresh fruit market

Adjustments on the US fresh fruit market

Sales of fresh produce appear to be levelling off in the US, after seeing a rapid surge in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Overall, fresh produce sales in the week ending June 28th were up 5.8% from 2019 levels, which is markedly down on the growth seen in since April 2020. While vegetable sales were up 12.5%, fruit sales rose just 0.2%, according to IRI data. There is still strong performance in the frozen and processed produce segment, with the former up 15.1% and the latter growing 22% from the same time last year. Fresh produce sales stand at $1.36 billion in the week ending June 28th and account for around 83% of overall fruit and vegetable sales in the US. Canned fruit and vegetable sales amount to $155 million and sales of frozen produce total $124 million. The poor performance of fresh fruit sales is particularly worrying for suppliers of summer fruits such as melon, grape and stone fruit. In contrast, vegetables are performing well, with lettuce leading the way in terms of sales growth, followed by tomato and potato. 

 

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Coronavirus: AREFLH welcomes the Commission’s adoption of additional exceptional measures for the fruit and vegetable sector

Coronavirus: AREFLH welcomes the Commission’s adoption of additional exceptional measures for the fruit and vegetable sector

Following the coronavirus crisis and its negative impact on the fuit and vegetable sector, the European Commission adopted on the 7th of July an additional set of exceptional measures to provide further support to fruit and vegetable producers.

The main provision included in the package will allow producer organisations and their associations to benefit from an increase of the EU’s contribution (from 50% to 70%) for the implementation of their operational programmes. AREFLH strongly advocated in favour of this exceptional measure and highly welcomes its adoption as the latter will prevent EU producers from losing EU funding due to causes attributable to the coronavirus pandemic.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 sanitary emergency, AREFLH has actively contributed to the definition of several crisis management measures by working together with European policy-makers and formulating policy proposals to grant EU producers with the necessary legislative derogations and enhanced flexibility provisions to allow them to better cope with the negative impact of the pandemic in terms of market disturbance and shortage of workforce.

Among the key measures requested, we can highlight the adoption of the following provisions:

  • set of derogations on annual on-the-spot checks and first-level checks on withdrawal operations applicable within the common agricultural policy
  • temporary derogation to the limit of one third of expenditure for crisis prevention and management measures under the producer organisations’ operational programmes
  • higher degree of flexibility for the submission of aid applications by producer organisations
  • derogations related to the implementation of the fruit and vegetable school scheme
  • temporary derogation to the maximum percentages of the operational fund which may be spent on any individual measure or type of action in order to ensure a balance between different measures within the operational programme
  • exceptional flexibility on non-harvesting and green harvesting measures

The abovementioned measures, which have been implemented progressively throught the adoption of five delegated and implementing regulations, have enabled EU fruit and vegetable producers to focus the resources under their operational programmes to address the market disturbances caused by the COVID19 pandemic and have provided much needed financial stability by helping producer organisations reduce their cash-flow difficulties.

For Simona Caselli, President of AREFLH ‘’European Regions and Producer Organisations are grateful to the European Commission and the European Parliament for standing by the side of EU producers. Over the next few months, AREFLH will continue to monitor the market situation and assess the necessity for new exceptional measures should the need arise’’.

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Sales of organic produce in US surge by 20%

Maggie McNeil, Organic Trade Association - Sales of organic produce in US surge by 20%
Maggie McNeil, Organic Trade Association ©  Twitter

 

Sales of organic produce in the US were up over 20% in spring 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which has had “dramatic consequences for the organic sector” according to data published by the Organic Trade Association (OTA). The US organic market grew by almost 5% in 2019, reaching US$18bn, with millennials and the younger generations the main drivers of this growth in demand. However, according to Maggie McNeil of the OTA, the outlook is far from clear for the sector. The whole of the US economy has taken a battering from the fallout of the pandemic, which has led to less purchasing power for households. This might translate into more price-conscious consumers who are unwilling to fork out more for more costly organic products. However, the pandemic also appears to have made consumers  more health-conscious. This may lead them to shifting purchases towards more healthy options like organic fresh produce.

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25th AECOC Commercial Strategy and Marketing Congress to analyse consumption in remainder of 2020

25th AECOC Commercial Strategy and Marketing Congress to analyse consumption in remainder of 2020

The 25th AECOC Congress on Commercial and Marketing Strategy will be held virtually between July 14 and 15. This year’s event will analyse the impact of COVID-19 as well as the transformations it has already generated and is expected to generate in mass consumption. Attendees will be presented with analysis of the economic outlook for the second half of the year for the consumer goods sector. Nielsen CEO in Spain and Portugal, Patricia Daimiel, will advance the consumption forecasts for the remainder of 2020 to obtain a complete picture of what impacts COVID-19 will have.

To complete the photograph of the impact on mass consumption, the AECOC Shopperview area will present the first results of its barometer dedicated to COVID-19. It will analyse the main changes in consumer behavior during and after confinement, identify the consolidated trends and predict how buyers will react to different future scenarios, such as possible new confinements in the event of outbreaks.

The programme on the first day will conclude with master-chef Ferran Adrià outlining his vision of the role innovation should play in the new normal.

Online commerce will be the focus of the second day, with an ‘E-commerce and omnichannel’ roundtable discussion and a presentation by IESE professor José Luis Nueno titled: ‘New opportunities from Direct to Consumer (DTC)’. In this intervention, Nueno will analyse the growth of the direct-to-consumer online commerce model, under which more than 6,000 companies operate in the world, thus eliminating intermediaries and creating flexible and externalised supply chain systems. According to the professor, the acceleration of e-commerce during the COVID-19 crisis will advance the DTC revolution.

About AECOC

AECOC is the Association of Manufacturers and Distributors Companies, one of the largest business organizations in the country and the only one in which the industry and consumer goods distribution work together to develop good practices and technological standards that help companies to be more efficient and competitive, adding value to the consumer. It encompasses both the largest companies and small and medium-sized companies and

It represents sectors as diverse as food and beverages, textiles, electro, hardware and DIY, health and hospitality, among others. It has more than 30,000 associated companies whose joint billing represents close to 20% of the national GDP.

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Concerns over spike of Covid-19 cases in US produce sector

Concerns over spike of Covid-19 cases in US produce sector copyright. United Fresh facebook page, DNO Produce

© DNO Produce (United Fresh)

 

The US produce sector is alarmed by the growing number of coronavirus cases reported among fruit and vegetable packers, according to Reuters. Besides the health risks to staff, the problem is leading to labour shortages that threaten to disrupt US produce supplies. Health officials in the state of Washington report 600 agricultural workers testing positive for Covid-19 in Yakima Country in May, 62% of whom were from the apple industry. For figure until 10th June, the county had the highest per-capita infection rate on the west coast of the US. In Monterey County, California, known for its high concentration of vegetable farms, 39% of all Covid-19 cases were among agricultural workers.

And it’s not only on the west coast that there’s a problem. Immokalee (Florida), a tomato production hub, has also reported a spike in coronavirus cases. Given the importance of the fresh produce industry, the USDA and the FDA have said the government could use the Defense Production Act to protect fruit and vegetable packhouses and keep them in operation. The act would allow packers some liability protection should their employees fall sick with the virus.

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Turkey set to conquer Asia

Turkey set to conquer Asia

Turkey is set to become a key player in Asian fruit and vegetable markets. The country is currently in advanced negotiations to secure access for its wide range of fresh produce to key markets such as China, Japan, Thailand and the Philippines, among others. Turkey’s Minister of Trade, Ruhsar Pekcan announced the acceleration in the country’s plan to diversify its fresh fruit and vegetable exports. Turkey currently is authorised to ship cherries to China and South Korea. Pekcan said that she soon expects China to authorise shipments of Turkish citrus, apples, grapes and pomegranate. Turkey is the world’s third largest apple producer (3 million tons per year) and Turkish apples have recently entered Thailand, with the Philippines set to follow suit. India, the Middle East and Russia are currently the main destinations for Turkey’s fresh produce exports.

 

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COVID-19: MEPs demand better aid for EU fruit and vegetable growers  

COVID-19: MEPs demand better aid for EU fruit and vegetable growers  

 

The EU’s Agriculture Committee has endorsed a set of exceptional market measures to help the EU wine, fruit and vegetable producers but rejected another one for not being good enough. To ensure that the wine, fruit and vegetable sectors get further support as quickly as possible, the Agriculture Committee decided to proactively greenlight the delegated regulation tabled by the EU Commission on 4 May, instead of waiting for the two-month objection period to pass. The measures provide for additional flexibility to farmers and producer organisations when it comes to making changes in operational programmes or extending support linked to green harvesting and mutual funds.

Call for further measures to help the sectors

But MEPs also launched a procedure that could lead to the rejection of another delegated regulation the Commission adopted on 30 April. They voted by 36 votes in favour to 11 against, with one abstentions, to recommend that Parliament vetoes an older set of market measures for wine, fruit and vegetable producers, which are already in place, for not going far enough .

MEPs want the Commission to improve the original aid package with additional targeted measures. These should include increasing co-financing rates, extending the list of eligible measures and expenses under the fruit and vegetables operational programmes, allowing carry-over of unused funds from these programmes to the next year and providing additional regulatory flexibilities within and beyond the national wine support programmes.

The committee also extended the deadline for a potential veto by Parliament to give the Commission more time to improve the proposed measures. The new deadline for rejecting the delegated act has been set for 31 August.

“The Commission’s support measures for the wine, fruit and vegetable growers are by far not enough and we have repeatedly asked Commissioner Wojciechowski to improve them. This has not happened so far and therefore we have endorsed today only some of these measures and we have put our green light for the other ones on hold. We have also extended the deadline for our potential veto to give Mr Wojciechowski more time. We urge the Commission not to waste it,” said Agriculture Committee Chair, Norbert Lins (EPP, DE).

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Spaniards’ consumption of fresh produce rockets

Spaniards’ consumption of fresh produce rockets
© Oh Barcelona, Flickr

 

Spanish households’ spending on fresh and processed fruit in April was 66.1% higher than for the same period last year, while the spend on vegetables was up 70.5%. This is the finding of a report published by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food using data for the week beginning April 13th. While sales were up for all food categories, the fresh produce segment was the best performer. 

In terms of the purchasing channels, the fastest growing channel was internet shopping, which was up by over 200% compared to the same period in 2019. Traditional neighbourhood stores also performed well, with sales up 63%. Meanwhile, sales at supermarkets were up 53.2%, while spending at discount stores and hypermarkets also rose by 40.4% and 32% respectively.