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Spain’s fresh produce sector steps up to the plate

Spain’s fresh produce sector steps up to the plate

The Spanish fruit and vegetable industry is playing a leading role in attenuating the impact of the Coronavirus outbreak. Across Europe, demand has been rocketing for certain products, and, according to Paco Borrás, chairman of the Export Committee at Freshfel and former commercial director of Anecoop, fruit and vegetable sales in Spain are considerably higher than normal – probably due to their renowned health benefits. To meet this demand, in the past two weeks, suppliers have been speeding up processes to be able to deliver up to 30% higher volumes; even so, this has still not been sufficient to last the entire day. Southern Spain’s growing regions have so far not been as affected as other parts of the country by the virus and have therefore been able to maintain a steady flow of supplies to the domestic market.

However, the restrictions on the movement of people are likely to jeopardise this state of affairs. While field and packhouse workers are still allowed to go to work, there are likely to be shortfalls in the workforce as family members fall sick or parents are required to stay home to look after children. Moreover, if the conditions worsen, packhouse employees may be reluctant to expose themselves to potentially becoming infected from colleagues.

Companies say that they are taking all the necessary precautions to minimise the risk of infection. These measures will involve greater costs in the operations. Also, exports to Asia have encountered logistical problems as have shipments to other parts of Europe, with delays at the borders of Italy, Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. This means fewer trucks available for deliveries within Spain. Combined with the likely drop-off in demand for fruits and vegetables in the next weeks, companies are going to have to bear a great deal of uncertainty and financial cost. 

Spain’s National Federation of Transport Associations (Fenadismer) calls for exporters to cover the direct and indirect costs of the empty return. The additional expenses just for of diesel for a 2,000 km trip can mean €1,000 more per truck. Spain has 130,000 vehicles dedicated to international transport, making a combined average of 150,000 weekly trips.

Borrás notes that the key role being played by the sector in this critical moment will no doubt be remembered society at large.



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Source of durian’s stink identified

Source of durian’s stick identified


The mystery of what gives the prized but foul-smelling Asian fruit durian its characteristic odour has finally ended. Researchers at Munich Technical University discovered that a rare amino acid called ethionine is the cause of the stench. Previous studies had pointed to a chemical compound called ethanethiol, without explaining how it was being produced by the fruit. The new study, published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, finds that, as a durian ripens, its ethionine content increases, releasing the smell.

This finding is potentially crucial for our health. The researchers say that it is important to know how much ethionine is in a durian as this amino acid could present health risks. Previous research has suggested that consuming large amounts of ethionine might cause liver damage and cancer, although this finding is still tentative and more research needs to be done. It appears that a very large amount of durian would need to be consumed before experiencing adverse health effects.

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Stable supply expected of Vietnamese exported fruits

Stable supply expected of Vietnamese exported fruits, credit: Eurofresh Distribution Magazine
John Nguyen, Sales Manager, Vina T&T, Vietnam © Yzza Ibrahim


Coconut, longan, mango, and dragon fruit ranks as the most demanded exotic fruits

Vietnam is home to many exotic fruits that have started to gain traction in North America. These fruits are amongst the most highly sought after produce in the US where there is a concentration of Asian migrants. According to Vina T&T, one of the leading Vietnamese exporters of fresh fruits, the clamour for such exotic and tropical fruits has not only been driven by Asian communities in the US, but the locals have also begun to expand their palette for these types of products. The US market is, however, competitive and the requirements for imported goods are stricter than in other countries. Restrictions pertaining to quality and on the amount of chemicals used are the main specifications typically demanded by wholesalers and traders in the US.

In addition to this, certain cultural intricacies also affect consumers’ purchasing habits. For example, for Buddhists, dragon fruit is an essential element in their rituals, so the skin of the fruit is a main consideration when buying them.

Because of the rising demand for exotic Vietnamese fruits, Vina T&T has decided to invest in a new warehouse, the largest to be built on Vietnamese soil, which will accommodate more orders, especially for popular fruits like longan and coconut.

© Vina T&T


Prices are also expected to be stable, as most products exported are available all year round. With the company’s efficient supply chain operations, orders from the US are fulfilled in a span of three days. This will be supplemented by the completion of a new warehouse which is expected to commence operations by the end of the year.

Vina T&T is a fruit trading expert. It has dual headquarters, in the US and Vietnam. Its key pillars are its quality management system and modern food warehousing.

For inquiries: John Nguyen; Vina T&T Group;

© Vina T&T
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Positive year expected to New Zealand kiwi

Concerns over how to market bumper New Zealand kiwi crop 

With New Zealand’s kiwi harvest due to start soon, and run from early February to early April, a good crop is expected, according to the NZ Kiwiberry Grower Association. Thanks to favourable growing conditions, a good sized and good quality crop is anticipated. Export volume for this season is estimated at 240,000 kg, similar to the last campaign. The fruit is exported worldwide and enjoys great appreciation on the global stage. The main varieties grown in New Zealand are Tahi, Marju Red and Takaka.

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Chilean cherries played a prominent part in the recent Chinese New Year celebrations, as red is the traditional colour of the festival and the peak sales period for Chilean cherries in China. The Cherry Committee of the Chilean Fruit Exporters Association (ASOEX) teamed up with food delivery service to hold the Harvest Your Red Moment and Deliver Happiness Together 2020 Chilean Cherry x Spring Shopping Festival Launch Ceremony. 

To satisfy the high consumer demand for Chilean cherries, has added Cherries from Chile to the “100-Million Yuan Subsidy” programme within its 2020 Spring Shopping Festival. The programme works together with sellers on the platform to subsidise sales of Chilean cherries. The platform guarantees fast delivery of the fresh fruit.

Charif Christian Carvajal, ASOEX’s Europe and Asia marketing director, said, “We hope that through our cooperation with, more consumers in China will be able to enjoy fresh, high-quality Cherries from Chile as part of their New Year celebrations and even onwards towards mid-February.”

Juan José Vidal Wood, Trade Commissioner at the Shanghai office of ProChile, said, “China is the primary market for exports of Cherries from Chile and cherries are an important component in the two countries’ flourishing economic relationship. Cooperation with will have a positive impact on the consumption and promotion of Chilean cherries in China.”

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BIOFRUITNET project is launched

© FiBL

At a meeting in Hamburg on 16 and 17 December 2019, the BIOFRUITNET project was officially launched. Focusing on organic pome, stone and citrus fruits, this project aims to strengthen the competitiveness of European organic fruit production by:  

  • Collecting and synthesizing existing practical and scientific knowledge on organic fruit growing to distribute it widely among the EU countries through easy formats like e-learning, podcasts, videos and short articles.

  • Strengthening the established networks in organic fruit growing and establish links between them to create strong networks of organic fruit producers and stakeholders with a good flow of information.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme under Grant Agreement No 862850. It is coordinated by the international farmers association Naturland and carried out in collaboration with 15 partner organisations representing 12 countries in total. They will work together during 3 years to provide information to the farmers in a practical way to tackle the challenges of pests and diseases in fruit crops. FiBL is one of the project partners.

Source: FiBL
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Two Major Innovations for Ecofriendly Exotic Fruit and Vegetable Packaging

Exotic fruit and vegetable printed

Action on plastic pollution: an environmental emergency

According to an Ellen MacArthur Foundation study, “the ocean is expected to contain 1 tonne of plastic for every 3 tonnes of fish by 2025, and by 2050, more plastics than fish (by weight).” In response to that environmental emergency, the Environment and Community Ministry launched France’s National Plastics Pact on 21 February 2019.


Target: 60% reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging in 2022 and 100% in 2025.


In the exotic fruit and vegetable sector, plastic packaging is a pressing issue that raises the challenge of developing eco-friendly solutions from the packaging to the labelling whilst maintaining the quality and traceability of fresh produce.

The company CAPEXPO is now making its contribution with two major innovations in exotic fruit and vegetable packaging and labelling, beating the official target by two years!




The patented process, which CAPEXO owns for France, makes it possible to print food-grade ink on the skin of almost all fruit and vegetables, adding a barcode, price or any other consumer information. The innovation heralds the end of excess plastic packaging and stickers for exotic fruit and vegetables and more. 

All exotic fruit and vegetables with a relatively smooth skin can be printed. Pineapple, for example, cannot. Grainy-skinned avocado can, but a barcode would not be legible enough to work properly at the checkout. It is possible to print the sale price, however. The printing process also adapts to the fruit’s ripeness to avoid any possible damage. 

Exotic fruit and vegetable printed

Food safety guaranteed 

The process involves patented, quality-tested food-grade inks — the same ones used in the pharmaceutical industry to coat tablets. 

End of checkout shrinkage

In store, on-fruit printing avoids the problem of differentiating between, for example, an air-freighted and seaborne mango, which have different sale prices, at the supermarket checkout. The process removes all possible confusion as either the barcode or price is shown on each individual fruit.



Ready to eat fruit sold in batches, such as ripe avocadoes or air-freighted bananas, needs punnet packaging to protect it and prevent checkout shrinkage. To replace the plastic film and punnet, which are at best recyclable, CAPEXO biocompostable packaging features cardboard sourced from sustainably managed birchwood forests, wrapped in a protective transparent film, which is also derived from birchwood, and heat-sealed on a flow-pack machine. That makes the punnet packaging fully biocompostable. Corn starch-based biocompostable films are already available. As they may not be 100% GMO-free, however, CAPEXO rejected that option as a precautionary measure. 

Home composting 

End consumers can throw the punnet and film away in their home compost bin, where they will naturally degrade in the same way as other compostable waste. Failing which, the packaging can be disposed of in a recycling bin.

Punnet traceability maintained 

CAPEXO biocompostable packaging enables ecofriendly product traceability with a batch number, origin, best-before date and all other information required by consumers using foodgrade ink.

Exotic fruit and vegetable printed


Founded in 1996, the company CAPEXO imports and markets exotic fruit and vegetables in France under the Lilot Fruits brand. A key player at Rungis International Market, CAPEXO provides a constant supply of delicious and nutritious produce to wholesalers and the wholesale markets as well as specialist (Grand Frais, Métro, etc.) and generalist (Carrefour, Casino, Monoprix, etc.) food retailers. 
Sharing the same high standards as its suppliers, CAPEXO selects produce from the finest sources. The company works closely with one of Reunion’s biggest cooperatives. 90% of the island’s air-freighted fruit is exported by Lilot Fruits. 
Victoria pineapple, avocado, mango, passionfruit, lime, etc. are just some of CAPEXO’s flagship products.

Source: Press release
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The European Packaging Forum: Congress & Get-together on May 14, 2020

The European Packaging Forum: Congress & Get-together on May 14, 2020

The European Packaging Forum is a precisely tailored congress event for the fruit and vegetable industry, focusing on marketing, sustainability, traceability, consumer and trade acceptance, innovative solutions, logistics, protection and functionality, hygiene and law. These are the topics that the experts from all stages of the value chain will be discussing on 14 May 2020 in Düsseldorf at Hotel Nikko Düsseldorf. This will be followed by the DFHV Annual Conference on 15 May 2020. 

The organisers – Agrarmarkt Informations-Gesellschaft (AMI) and Fruchthandel Magazin – will be addressing a central topic in the sector, which is not only being strongly discussed in the entire value chain, but also in society. A press release stated: “Since the recent pictures of dead whales and polluted seas make this topic difficult to be ignored. We want to tackle the challenges and take a close look at them in order to discuss and sketch out alternatives and solutions with the competent experts in the end and thus give the industry new impetus. We want to bring together the most important market partners in the European sector in order to objectify the discussion and jointly develop new ideas and strategies for contemporary solutions and offers for the entire value chain.”

Simultaneous translation is provided of the plenary sessions in German and English.

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Global citrus crop shrinks


The 2019/20 global citrus crop is down for all categories, except grapefruit. Orange production is down 11% to 47.5 million, due to weather-afflicted seasons in Brazil, the EU, Morocco and Egypt, with small increases in China and the US unable to compensate for these losses. The global mandarin crop is down 1% to 31.7 million tons, with drops in all major production regions, especially Turkey (-9%) except China.  The world’s lemon crop is estimated to be down 7% to 7.9 million tons, with Argentina (-11%), the EU (-13%), Turkey (-9%) and the US (16%) all suffering challenging seasons due to weather events. Mexico’s and South Africa’s lemon and lime production are both expected to be up. Lastly, grapefruit was the one citrus category that registered a larger crop in the 2019-20 campaign, with larger harvests in China, South Africa, Turkey and the US more than offsetting the 18% fall in the EU’s crop.

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Fruit Attraction 2020 to offer yet more quality and diversity

Fruit Attraction 2020 to offer yet more quality and diversity


The 2020 edition of the IFEMA event will focus on multiple aspects of the fresh produce industry, including Innovation, market trends, formats and convenience, technology, marketing, transportation and logistics, and organics. The main objective is to continue raising the level of quality and diversity of the offer on display, as well as the quality and relevance of the professional visitors from all over the world.

“The growth of Fruit Attraction is not an objective. We have seen growth in each of our editions thanks to the event’s usefulness for the fruit and vegetable industry, its relevance to the market, and the international nature of its professional community, with almost 130 countries represented,” said the event’s director Raúl Calleja. The Fruit Attraction concept is a useful and profitable product that is commercially relevant and offers a very friendly environment in a magnificent city like Madrid. It is a modern and avant-garde event because of its format and content, where user experience is the priority under the premises of sustainable development. “Fruit Attraction is the future and is a guarantee of commercial return for companies that are part of its community. It represents the right place at the right time,” said Calleja.

The 2019 edition saw 60,000 professional participants from 127 countries. From October 22 to 24, it presented the largest and most complete of all its editions, with 1,770 exhibitors from 58 countries, an increase of 9%. It covered an area of 55,938 m2, 10% more than in 2018. These figures made Madrid a world fruit and vegetable capital for 3 days. The fair has now established itself as a fundamental tool for global fruit and vegetable marketing with its ability to promote international trade. Foreign participation was up 23%, and the international attendees remained at the fair for an average of 1.83 days, compared to the overall average of 1.55 days. Europeans were the most numerous (65% of those attending), 16% more than 2018. Latin America and the Caribbean saw the largest increase (+ 47%), followed by North America (+ 31%), the Middle East (+ 21%), and other countries (+ 20%). Fruit Attraction is now firmly established as a key global event for fruit and vegetable trade. It provides a commercial connection point and a framework for innovation across the entire value chain.