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23% of consumers to increase consumption of sustainably grown vegetable over next 3 years

23% of consumers to increase consumption of sustainably grown vegetable over next 3 years

Consumers worldwide are changing their purchasing habits and the sustainable food revolution appears to have taken off. These are the findings of the Wave X-Remix Culture report, carried out by the IPG Mediabrands Group, which surveyed 56,398 consumers from 81 countries on their consumption habits. The report also predicts that in the next three years, 23% of buyers will increase their consumption of sustainable vegetable products and 13% will increase purchases of non-fresh sustainably produced items. 

The organic market is no longer a niche. Consumers are placing greater value in socio-environmental issues, such as the use of plastics, buying local produce, or greater regulations on industrial processes. The report also highlights that consumers are uncertain of the consequences of GM foods and artificial ingredients, and are concerned about the increase in allergies, intolerances and digestive difficulties. Healthy eating concerns have driven continued growth in sales of sustainable and organic products (+8.4 pp since 2013), while lowering consumption of artificial additives and red meat (-35% in the last year).

The new consumer is looking for brands that identify with their values ​​(61% of respondents said that brands have an important social role). The new consumer is less credulous and more distrustful and critical of the information he or she receives. The new consumer does not believe all of the messages transmitted by brands and companies.

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What can EU produce sector expect after Brexit?

What can EU produce sector expect after Brexit, Source: Freshfel
Source: Freshfel

 

 

With the UK all but certain to leave the EU in 2020, the European fruit and vegetable industry is viewing with great concern the potential impact this will have on intra-EU trade flows. A recent Rabobank report found that fresh produce will be the most affected food sector following Brexit, along with animal protein. At a time when the EU agricultural sector is still adjusting to the fallout of the Russian embargo, the potential loss of another key market could have devastating consequences.

Loss of trade would be costly on both sides of Channel

For many years now, the industry has benefited from frictionless trade thanks to single-market provisions, with the EU Mainland being a net supplier to the UK. In fact, the UK is the third largest destination for EU fruit and vegetables, receiving 3.1 million tons (€4 billion) of fresh produce each year. The two-way flows between the EU and the UK are worth €3.6 billion and account for about 10% of all intra-EU fresh produce trade. Besides generating large revenues for EU suppliers, this dynamic has left the UK heavily dependent on the EU for its fresh produce, with 55% of all the country’s imports coming from the EU-27 Member States. The main EU imports to the UK are tomatoes (480,000 tons), apples (245,000 tons), onions (230,000 tons), sweet peppers (175,000 tons), and soft citrus (164,000 tons). The largest source by far is Spain, which represents 45% of the total, followed by the Netherlands (22%), France (7%), Germany (6%) and Ireland (6%), with significant volumes imported from third countries via other EU Member States.

 

 

“55% of the UK’s fresh produce imports arrive from the EU”

 

 

The UK itself produces around 2.2 million tons of fresh produce (1.8 million tons of vegetables and 450,000 tons of fruit). Its exports to the EU total around 310,000 tons, most of which are shipped to Ireland (101,000 tons), France (90,000 tons) and the Netherlands (30,000 tons). The main trade is the re-export of bananas (64,000 tons) and other exotic fruits.

Rising prices

So, how is Brexit likely to change this picture? To answer this, multiple aspects need to be considered, such as tariffs, potential quotas, logistical hurdles, customs operations, certification, and tracing. At this point, we can only speculate about the terms of the eventual deal, as the final details of any agreement are still to be established. If the UK leaves the EU without a withdrawal agreement, then it will automatically revert to WTO trading rules in dealing with the EU. This would lead to a new tariff regime in place which would increase costs for operators in the EU and the UK who had previously benefited from zero-tariffs. What is clear, however, is that no extra tariffs will be applied to fresh produce for up to 12 months after the UK leaves the EU.

Bottlenecks and rotting produce

Secondly, border procedures and customs operations could lead to delays along the supply chain. This could have drastic consequences in the fresh fruit and vegetable trade given the perishability of the products. Trade flows are dependent on swift border procedures and customs clearance. Currently, 130,000 containers of highly perishable products arrive in the UK from the EU each year, with 55,000 containers sent from Spain alone to the port of Dover. The main bottlenecks of the EU-UK fresh produce trade are located at the ports of Dover and Rotterdam, and at the Eurostar connection in Calais. Dover is a very narrow transit port, lacking parking and storage facilities. Any new procedures will place great burden on ports and lead to backlogs, which in turn would compromise the timing of arrival and the quality of the perishable products. Morrisons supermarket chain has announced contingency plans that include switching to alternative ferry crossings, such as Le Havre-Portsmouth, if the Dover-Calais route becomes gridlocked. In turn, the Co-op supermarket chain has stated its intention to use air freight to bring in fruit to avoid empty shelves.

Ireland is particularly vulnerable given its relative geographical isolation. New border controls could result in lower supplies and higher prices for Irish consumers, too. Goods shipped between Mainland UK and Northern Ireland will also be subject to checks by UK and EU officials, which is causing particular distress in Belfast.

Higher costs

The UK may introduce different food safety regulations. This would lead to increased certification requirements, including certificates of origins, quality and phytosanitary certificates, which would constitute a further financial burden on operators. As fresh produce often arrives in mixed containers, with an average consignment comprising 10 different product categories, then based on an annual average of 130,000 containers, this would result in additional cost of up to €65 million in certification, according to a Freshfel report.

UK to turn into a rival for the EU?

The EU is concerned about what steps the UK may take to make itself a more attractive market, to the potential detriment of its European neighbours. When the UK becomes a third-country trading partner, new transhipments rules will need to be defined, governing how produce is stored and handled. If the EU wishes to retain its competitiveness as a logistical hub, it must ensure it continues to be a more attractive logistical environment than the UK, or risk losing trade. Another fear is that the UK will loosen MRL and phytosanitary requirements in order to attract imports from around the world. Such changes would have a knock-on effect on trade within the EU, where stricter rules are in place.

Less movement, less collaboration

While the movement of citizens is to be guaranteed during the transition period (up to December 2020), the current shortfall in seasonal labour in the UK is likely to be exacerbated and result in higher costs for UK producers. The field of research and innovation is also certain to be affected, with the UK one of the largest beneficiaries of Horizon 2020 funds, receiving €3.3 million in grants. For instance, the “Raditom” research project is investigating the preservation of tomato flavour, while the “EUFRUIT” project involves 12 countries focussing on coordination and information sharing.

The ideal scenario

Ultimately, the industry fears that the complexities of fresh produce trade with not be adequately considered given the limited time for negotiating exit conditions. Ideally, there would be a longer transitional period than the currently proposed 11 months (until December 2020) to allow a new free-trade agreement to be concluded and grant businesses sufficient time to adapt to any changes. An undertaking to protect the supply of EU fresh produce to the UK would defend jobs and economic growth on both sides of the Channel.

Moreover, if the UK integrates its digital customs services with those of the EU, this would help lubricate trade flows. It is vital not to reverse the great progress the sector has made in recent times. The issuing of electronic organic and phytosanitary certificates via ‘traces’ has greatly improved the monitoring and risk analysis of trade in plant products. The fine balance that has allowed the sector to flourish could be greatly undermined by any variation in price or conditions.

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Citrus losing primacy in global fruit trade

Citrus losing primacy in global fruit trade

As the fruit sector diversifies, citrus is coming to play a smaller role. While Spain dominates the citrus trade overall, African and South American countries are coming to play a greater role in certain regions.

Between 1980 and 2016, exported volumes of fresh fruit increased from 23 to 87.5 million tons (+193%). While the growth in total fruit exports (+280%) outstripped growth in production (155%), the opposite is the case when we look at the citrus category, where production increased by 139%, but exports only rose by 133%, from 6.9 to 16 million tons. The shrinking role that citrus has come to play in the global fruit trade is highlighted by the fact that its share of world fruit exports plummeted from 30% in 1980 to 18.5% in 2016.

 

Oranges and grapefruits
losing their shine

When we examine the breakdown of the world’s citrus trade, we find that oranges and grapefruits have seen their share drop, while soft citrus and lemons now play a larger role. While in 1980, orange exports accounted for 59% of all citrus exports, by 2016, their share had fallen to 43% (6.8 million tons). Over the same period, exports of grapefruit registered a fall in their category share from 12% to 7% (1.1 million tons in 2016). In contrast, soft fruits almost doubled their share of the category’s exports, rising from 15% to 31% (5 million tons in 2016). Similarly, lemons saw their share of citrus exports rise from 14% to 19% (3.1 million tons in 2016).

 

Spain dominates
citrus export markets

The world’s number-one citrus exporter remains Spain, but the picture has shifted somewhat over recent decades. Spain leads the way in exports of orange and soft citrus, and is second only to Mexico in lemon/lime exports. The Spaniards’ greatest rival is South Africa, with the major Southern Hemisphere player leading the way in grapefruit exports, ranking second in oranges, and fourth in soft citrus and lemon/limes. 

 

Leading orange exporters

In 2017, Spain, with 1.8 million tons, accounted for 27% of the world’s orange exports, well ahead of South Africa in second place, with 17% (1.2 million tons), followed by Egypt, with 10% (660,000 tons), Turkey, with 9% (621,000 tons), and the US, with 8% (570,000 tons), according to COMTRADE data. Spain dominates the world’s soft citrus category, too, accounting for 22% of all exports. Some way behind Spain lies China, in second place, with 10% (494,000 tons), followed by Turkey, with 9% (454,000 tons), South Africa, with 4% (201,000 tons) and Israel, with 2.6% (129,000 tons). 

 

Leading lemon/lime exporters

As for lemons and limes, in 2017, Mexico was the world’s largest exporter, with 24% of the market share (730,000 tons), followed closely behind by Spain (22%), with (690,000 tons), Turkey, with 15% (450,000 tons), and South Africa, with 9.5% (300,000 tons). The grapefruit segment sees South Africa out in front, with 20.5% of global exports (227,000 tons). The other major grapefruit producers are all in the Northern Hemisphere. Close behind South Africa comes China, with 17.5% (192,000 tons), followed some way back by Turkey, with 11.5% (127,000 tons) and the US, with 7.7% (85,000 tons).

 

The surge of
South American citrus

In recent times, South American producers have grown in prominence in the global citrus trade. Peru’s citrus exports have rocketed 380% in the last decade, while Chile’s are up 200%. Meanwhile, Egypt and Pakistan recorded 175% rises, and China and Turkey’s citrus exports have doubled. In volume terms, Turkey has seen the largest rise over the last ten years (+800,000 tons), followed by Spain, Egypt and China (+450,000 tons). 

 

Europeans prefer oranges,
Japanese prefer soft citrus

Demand for citrus varies greatly from region to region. The EU has the largest per capita consumption of oranges (8kg per year), while the Japanese consume less than 1kg per year on average, according to Freshfel data. However, in terms of soft citrus, the Russians (5.8kg) and the Japanese (5.2kg) lead the way, while Europeans consume just 4.6kg per capita. The North American consume the most lemons, with Canadians purchasing 2kg and US consumers 1.9kg of the fruit each year. As for grapefruit, Canadians once again lead the way alongside EU consumers (1.04 kg), with Russians consuming just 0.4kg of the fruit each year.

 

Russia is world’s number-one
citrus importer

EU countries import the largest volumes of citrus (including intra-EU trade), accounting for 45% of the world’s imported citrus volumes. However, the single country that imports the largest volumes of citrus is Russia (9.6%). While demand for citrus is growing worldwide, the picture is varied in different regions of the world. If we compare the 2005-07 average total citrus import volumes with the 2015-17 average, we find that the greatest proportionate increases have been recorded in Middle Africa (+1461%), Southern Asia (+372%), and Central Asia (+304%). In volume terms, over this ten-year period, demand for citrus has risen most in the EU (6.5 to 7.2 million tons, +10%), followed by Russia (1.0 to 1.5 million tons, +54%), North America (0.94 to 1.46 million tons, +55%) and Eastern Asia (0.86 to 1.1 million tons, +29%).

 

Chinese market dominated
by soft citrus

As the world’s largest citrus market (34 million tons), it is worth examining trade data for China. The Asia giant produces 34.1 million tons of citrus for the fresh market, of which soft citrus represents 62%, oranges comprise 21%, grapefruits account for 13%, and lemons constitute 4%. China is a net exporter of citrus (933,000 tons shipped abroad in 2017), with the main destination markets being Vietnam (17.6%), Russia (16.4%), Thailand (14.8%), the EU (11.8%) and Malaysia (10.6%). China’s imports of fresh citrus have steadily increased over the past ten years, from 560,000 tons, in 2008, to over 1 million tons in 2016. The main overseas source of citrus for the Chinese market is South Africa (35.9%), followed at some distance by the US (19.7%), Egypt (17.4%) and Australia (14.7%).

 

EU looks to South Africa
for citrus imports

Turning to the EU citrus market, the Europeans consume 11 million tons of citrus. Oranges account for 57% of the total (6.2 million tons), soft citrus represent 28%, lemons constitute 11%, followed by grapefruit (3%), and lime (1%). While citrus imports from outside the EU have fluctuated over the past ten years, largely in line with variations in European crops, they have tended to remain between 2 and 2.4 million tons per year. The major source of non-EU citrus is South Africa (653,000 tons), followed by Egypt (331,000 tons), Argentina (221,000 tons), Morocco (204,000 tons) and Turkey (186,000 tons). The share of non-EU imports represented by lemons (17%), grapefruit (14%) and limes (6%) is greater than their share of intra-EU trade, while the reverse is the case for oranges (42%) and soft citrus (21%).

 

Russia and the Gulf record
rises in citrus imports

Russia’s fresh citrus market consisted of 3.9 million tons of fruit in 2017. The category is divided between oranges (37%), satsumas (30%), lemons (14%), clementines (12%) and grapefruit (7%). The country’s citrus imports climbed steadily between 2004 and 2013 (from 0.82 to 1.68 million tons), before falling off slightly. The major supplier of citrus to the Russian market is Turkey (38%), followed by Egypt (16%), Morocco (15%), South Africa (9%) and China (8%).

Taking the Gulf market as a whole, citrus consumption climbed steadily between 2012 and 2016 (from 1.6 million tons to 1.9 million tons), before dropping off slightly in 2017 (1.68 million tons). The main suppliers of fresh citrus to the Gulf in 2017 were Egypt (525,000 tons), South Africa (430,000 tons), Turkey (120,000 tons), Pakistan (110,000 tons), Lebanon (47,000 tons) and Spain (43,000 tons).

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Romanians spend largest share on food and beverages

Romanians spend largest share on food and beverages, ct. Eurostat

 

EU consumers spent 12.1% of their total expenditure on food and non-alcoholic beverages, amounting to over €1.047 billion (or 6.6% of EU GDP), according to Eurostat data. Food and beverages ranks as the third largest category of household expenditure after ‘housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels’ (24.0%), and ‘transport’ (13.2%). Romania is the country with the highest proportion of household expenditure on food and non-alcoholic beverages (27.8%), followed by Lithuania (20.9%) and Estonia (19.6%). The lowest proportions were recorded for the United Kingdom (7.8%), Ireland (8.7%), Luxembourg (9.1%) and Austria (9.7%).

Between 2008 and 2018, the share of total household expenditure on food decreased or remained stable in most EU Member States where 2018 data is available. The largest decrease was recorded in Lithuania (from 24.8% of total household expenditure in 2008 to 20.9% in 2018, or a fall of 3.9 percentage points), followed by Poland (-3.4 pp) and Malta (-3.0 pp). In contrast, household expenditure on food increased in 10 EU Member States where 2018 data is available. The largest increase was recorded in Czechia and Slovakia (both +1.4 pp), the Netherlands (+1.0 pp) and Hungary (+0.8 pp).

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A third of EU residents don’t eat fruit or veg daily

Regular consumption of fruit and vegetables is considered an important part of a healthy and balanced diet. In the EU, however, slightly more than a third of the population aged 15 or over did not  eat them on a daily basis in 2014,

More than a third of the European Union population aged 15 or over did not eat fruit and vegetables on a daily basis in 2014.

And less than 15% consumed at least the recommended 5 portions a day, according to a Eurostat press release.

The European Union’s statistical office also said the daily consumption of fruit and vegetables differs widely between EU member states.

In Romania, for instance, almost two-thirds (65.1%) of the population aged 15 and over does not eat fruit and vegetables on a daily basis, while in Belgium, at the other end of the scale, it’s 16.5%.

Similarly, a third of those in the UK eat at least 5 portions of fruit or veg daily, compared to 3.5% in Romania and 4.4% in Bulgaria.

And when it comes to differences between men and for women, Eurostat said the daily consumption of fruit and vegetables seems to also be influenced by the level of education – the higher the education level, the higher the share of the “5-a-day” population.

The widest gap between low and high educated persons for “5-a-day” consumption was in the UK, where 40.5% of those with a high education consumed at least five fruit or vegetables each day compared to 25% for those with a low education level.

image: http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/sfs/index_en.htm

 

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Freshfel calls for fresh ideas to boost consumption

Freshfel Europe stimulates sector to re-think consumption of fruit and vegetables

‘Think outside the box’ and seek creative ways to stimulate consumers to eat more fresh fruit and vegetables – that’s one of the messages from Freshfel Europe’s annual policy event held yesterday in Brussels.

The call comes amid figures from the association which show some consumption of some types of fresh fruit and vegetables has slid considerably.

In a press release, Freshfel said the fresh produce sector should continue to move ahead to stimulate consumption and enhance the positive image of fresh produce, two things that are among its priorities for the year ahead.

Freshfel said that at its annual policy event, several speakers presented creative ways to promote fresh produce. Samuel Levie, from Food Cabinet in the Netherlands, started the day with a presentation on a successful low-budget campaign called ‘Big Bang Broccoli’ as well as a campaign called ‘Power to the Pieper’ to promote the humble potato as a contemporary superfood.

Images from Power to the Pieper video

Daniel Fritz, a social media expert working among others for the European Commission, raised awareness about how the fresh produce sector can profit more by using social media to spread positive messages on its produce. He showed some surprising keywords and recommendations the fresh produce sector can use.

“Consumers are aware of the healthy aspects of fruit and vegetables, but more can be done to promote the fun and positive effects of fruit and vegetables,” said Freshfel Europe president Luc Clerx. In the foreword to the association’s 2015 activity report,

Luc Clerx President of Freshfel Europe

Clerx had strong words for the European Commission, which he said was now “eager to remove the successful school fruit and vegetables scheme.”  He defended the scheme as an essential tool for changing the diet of European consumers in the long run.

Other priorities for Freshfel in the coming year are to encourage the competitiveness of European fruit and vegetables production, to move ahead on food and plant safety and research and innovation, and to enhance trade while also securing efficient health and nutrition policies.

Freshfel Europe is the European Fresh Produce Association and represents the interests of the fresh fruit and vegetables supply chain in Europe and beyond.