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Surge in Thai fruit exports

Surge in Thai fruit exports © Réussir Fruits et Légumes

© Réussir Fruits et Légumes

 

Thailand, the world’s seventh largest fruit exporter, has free trade agreements for exporting its fresh fruits to 18 countries. In the first two months of 2021, shipments to these countries rocketed by 107% y-o-y, reports Thailand’s National News Bureau. Director-General of the Department of Trade Negotiations, Oramon Sapthaweetham, said the total trade was worth US$461m, accounting for 94.9% of the country’s total fruit exports.

The products that have registered strongest growth are durian, mangosteen, longan and mango. The main destination markets are China, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Australia and Chile.

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Promising research on bioplastic from fruit waste

Promising research on bioplastic from fruit waste
Photo: Cristián Valdés Biochemist in charge of the project – FIA

Chilean researchers are working to create packaging containers for fruits for export to Europe and Asia using apple, pear, grape, peach and tomato waste. The initiative is promoted by the Foundation for Agrarian Innovation (FIA) and executed by the Universidad Católica del Maule, with support from the Foundation for Fruit Development (FDF) and San Jorge Packaging.

The biochemist in charge of the project, Cristián Valdés, said that the first stage of the process is to extract the nutrients from the residues of fruits and vegetables for the growth of a bacteria that produces the precursor of the bioplastic. The product “will be chemically treated in order to generate the material as such, to which antimicrobial properties will be added. Later, it will be transformed into biodegradable bags, shaping it by means of extrusion machines. Finally, the properties of the material will be optimised so that it is compatible with the packaging,” he said.

The project is in the first phase, related to the generation and optimization of the necessary conditions for the hydrolysis process of the different industrial wastes.

 

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China’s fresh fruit imports slip 8.9% in 2020

China’s fresh fruit imports slip 8.9% in 2020
Photo: Retail China – CR Vangard

Despite China’s imports of fresh produce falling y-o-y in volume terms in 2020, they were up in value, according to Chinese customs data. China imported 5.3 million tons of fresh fruit in 2020, with bananas leading the way (1.7 million tons; 32%). Next came dragon fruit (618,000 tons), followed by durian (575,000 tons), mangos (379,000) and longans (347,000 tons). 

Due to the impact of the pandemic on logistics, the total volume was down 8.9% compared to 2019. However, the value of fruit imports increased by 7% to US$1.73 per kg. Durians were the fruit that registered the highest price rise over the 12 months (+44%). Cherry imports bucked the trend, increasing in volume by 8.7% to 210,000 tons.

Fresh vegetable imports slumped 22.6% y-o-y to 72,000 tons.

 

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Growth of US fruit imports stalls

Growth of US fruit imports stalls
Photo by Dirt to Dinner

US fruit imports were rather flat in 2020, with the exception being for fresh citrus and  frozen fruit,  according to new  USDA data. Overall imports of fresh, frozen and processed fruit rose by less than 1% Y-O-Y to US$19.9 billion in 2020. This contrasts with the significant annual growth recorded by the  category since 2010, when imports were as low as US$10.4 billion. There were falls in imports of avocados (-12% to $2.3  billion), bananas (-2% to $1.9 billion), blueberries (-5% to $982 million),  strawberries (-2% to $819 million), and apples (-18% to $110  million). Citrus imports rose  by 11% to $1.4  billion, driven mainly  by growth in mandarins and oranges. Table grape imports were also up, +4% to $1.7  billion,  

In terms of sources, shipments from Mexico and Chile were both down 3%, to $8.2 billion and $1.9  billion, respectively, while fruit imports from Guatemala fell by 2% to $1.9 billion. By contrast, Peru registered a 17% increase in shipments to the US ($1.7 billion), and imports from Costa Rica climbed 2% to $1.1 billion.

 

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EU fruit & vegetable e-Commerce market study shows promising future for online sales

EU fruit & vegetable e-Commerce market study shows promising future for online sales

 

Freshfel Europe and the Scheme for the Application of International Standards for Fruit and Vegetables of the OECD have published the first  ever  extensive  study  on  fresh  produce  e-Commerce with  the title “Online  Sales  of  Fruit  and Vegetables in Europe”. The study explores the structure and regulatory challenges of selling fruit and vegetables online and analyses the format of existing web shops specialised in online sales of fruit and vegetables, their delivery model as well as compliance with the current EU regulatory framework for (online) marketing standards with multifaceted results.

While a big share of European fruits and vegetables online sales are conducted by online pure players and retailers with roughly 51% of all findings, surprisingly the study illustrated the growing share of agricultural suppliers with direct marketing to consumers. Freshfel’s Director Trade Policy and Business Development and co-author of the study, Nelli Hajdu remarks, that this study marks only the beginning of understanding  the  complexity  of this uprising outlet:  “The structure  of  the  online  landscape  is characterized by national shopping ‘traditions’ and trends, a challenge for creating a favourable regulatory environment. However, the impact of COVID-19 on market structure and consumer uptake is still to be examined in detail.”

Recently, online sales have become an important outlet for food products and the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated this trend. As little was known about the online sales and distribution system of fruits and vegetables, Freshfel Europe teamed up with the OECD to explore the structure and size of the European online fruit and vegetable market as well as its compliance with existing regulatory requirements. To quantify the size of the market, seven sample EU Member States have been selected, to compare their organisational features (online-pure players/retailers, agricultural suppliers) as well as their distribution system (delivery vs. click-and-collect). The study also examined the verification of compliance with labelling requirements of Marketing Standard Regulation EU 543/2011.

For the first time ever the ground breaking study gave an accurate picture of the size and structure of EU e- Commerce suppliers. The study found that while the overall structure of online fruit and vegetable sales can be defined by its characteristic business format, either as an online-pure player, retailer or agricultural supplier, as well as by its distribution structure, this varies strongly at national level. For example, the German online fruit and vegetable market is mainly shaped by agricultural suppliers selling directly to consumers, while in Spain smaller local ‘Fruteria’ shops have gone online to expand their customer base. France stood out with a strong and established coverage of click-and-collect opportunities. Regarding market size, the online market shows a high range of fragmentation, however this doesn’t exceed 100 to 150 web shops per country, and is depending on the maturity of the market development at national level. Regarding the compliance with labelling requirements in the context of the Marketing Standard Regulation EU 543/2011, the rate highly diverged by operator and organisational structure.

While revealing promising signs for the future of online sales, this first study also revealed key questions, which  will  require  further investigation.  This includes  understanding  the characteristics  of  successful business models for  fruit  and vegetable online sales,  trustworthiness  and verification  of  information provided on websites and the overall uptake by consumers. These key areas for further investigation have become even more relevant as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to accelerate overall online food availability, especially fruit and vegetable sales, with urgent need for quantification. 

 

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Alibaba invests in tech for fruit handling

Alibaba invests in tech for fruit handling
Photo: Alibaba

Alibaba has announced that it will add several new fruits, including Dekopon tangerines, to its online and offline ranges, thanks to the firm’s five new digital agricultural processing centres set up across the country, fitted with the latest technology. In Shandong, a sorting line for locally grown cherries will start operating in the Alibaba Zibo Digital Agriculture Warehouse in April. Until now, China had only been able to grade fruit for size and appearance, but not the colour. Colour is important not only for appearance but also as an indicator of ripeness. The new sorting equipment not only adds a colour index, but also establishes a more detailed index for inspecting appearance to eliminate problems such as soft flesh, cracked fruit, and deformity.

Meanwhile, the Alibaba Production Warehouse in Xi’an, in the northwest of the country, is developing a new robot whose main function is to transport the packed fruits to a location according to instructions and stack the boxes neatly. As the Spring Festival approaches, Orah mandarins from Yunnan and Guangxi are expected to reach large marketed volumes by mid-January. To this end, Alibaba’s two production warehouses in Kunming and Nanning are equipped with three fully automatic smart packaging lines, which can pack at least 100,000 packs per day. From sorting to packaging, 70% of the work can be done by robots.

 

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Surge in demand for fresh produce in Spain in 2020

Spanish supermarkets gain market share during Covid-19 lockdown
Photo: Mercadona

Between January and November 2020, the volume of food purchases in Spain increased by 10% y-o-y to 31.5 million tons, while in value terms, the increase was 13% to €78.4 billion, as average prices increased by 2.7%, according to a study prepared by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.

The purchase of fresh potatoes and vegetables by households increased by 13.7% and 11.1% respectively. In addition, onions, lettuce, endives, peppers and cabbages all saw growth in excess of 10%. Demand for fresh fruit was up 9%. Lemon purchases rose by 19.3%, while sales growth of over 10% was also recorded for apples, bananas, watermelon, grapes and kiwis, compared to the same period in 2019. 

 

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Brazil to step up fruit exports to Middle East

Brazil to step up fruit exports to Middle East © Réussir Fruits et Légumes

© P. Gaillard, Réussir Fruits et Légumes

 

Brazil’s fruit sector has its eyes firmly set on Asian and Middle Eastern markets. In the first 10 months of 2020, Brazil’s fruit exports were up 2.8% to 725,000 tons, compared to the same period of 2019. Shipments to the Middle East accounted for about 15,000 tons in 2019, with the UAE being the largest market. The main products shipped to these markets are melons, table grapes, mangoes and limes. This growing interest has led to a growing number of Brazilian operators to become halal certified. Omar Chahine, commercial manager of Brazilian certifier Cdial Halal, said the certification has been increasingly required in Arab countries and beyond. China and South Korea are also becoming major markets for Brazilian fruit exports.

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Argentine fresh fruit exports up 6% from 2019

Argentine fresh fruit exports up 6% from 2019
Photo: Trapani

Argentina’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries reports that exports of fresh fruits certified by the National Service of Health and Food Quality (Senasa) rose 6 percent in the first ten months of the year compared to the same period of 2019.

“This achievement is the product of a combination of forces, such as Argentine producers ceaseless work and the tireless efforts of Senasa, which had to adapt its tasks and adjust the controls to continue certifying the exports of the agri-food and agro-industrial complex in this framework of pandemic, showing that institutions are strengthened even in difficult times when there are accompanying public policies,” said the Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Luis Basterra.

Between January and October 2020, the decentralised body certified shipments of 797,220 tons of fresh fruits (citrus, pome fruits, grapes) against 751,871 tons in the same period last year.

Of the total of fresh fruits exported, 321,278 tons were pear; 247,985 were fresh lemon; 98,446 tons were apple; 73,956 tons were orange; and 32,767 tons were mandarin. The main destinations were the European Union, the Russian Federation and the United States, among others. Shipments of blueberries, grapes, kiwi, pomegranate and cherry, among other fresh fruits, were also registered.

With respect to the same period of 2019, there was growth in exports of pear (11%), lemon (6%) and apple (5%), among others. The main destinations for the Argentine pear were Brazil, 91,794 tons; Russia, 85071; United States, 38,294 tons; and Italy, 25,367 tons.

The main markets for Argentina’s fresh lemon were Russia, 57,932 tons, United States, 33,536 tons, the Netherlands, 31,829 tons and Spain, 25,171 tons.

The main markets for orange shipments were Paraguay, 21,841 tons, the Netherlands, 13,284 tons, Russia, 9,772 tons, Spain, 6,880 tons and Iraq, 2,678 tons.

Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, and taking into account the preventive measures issued in a timely manner, Senasa agents operate in the country’s cargo terminals inspecting these products of plant origin and wooden packaging in commercial export operations.

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Spanish fruit and vegetables exports rise 8%

Spanish fruit and vegetables exports rise 8%

 

The value of Spanish fresh produce exports climbed 8% in the first eight months of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019, totalling €10.1 billion. However, in volume terms, they dropped 5% to 8.8 million tons, according to the latest data published by the Directorate General of Customs.

Fruit exports were up 11% in value compared to the same months in 2019, totalling €5.98 billion. Citrus fruit, the main export in this category, registered strong growth. Stone fruit export volumes were down, although they increased in value. Peach exports totalled 280,895 tons and were worth €348 million (+16.5%), while nectarine exports totalled 277,612 tons (-14%) and were worth €384 million (+20.5%). Strawberry exports fell both in volume and value terms by 3% to 279,568 tons (€563 million).

Vegetable exports grew by 4% in value compared to the same period in 2019, totalling €4,130 million. The main exported products were peppers €802 million (+4%), tomatoes €641 million (+0%), lettuces €468 million (-5%) , and cabbages €444 million (-11%). In volume terms, vegetable exports fell by 1.5% to 3.7 million tons.

Photo: Mercabarna