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EU ends ban on Argentine citrus imports

EU ends ban on Argentine citrus imports © Plantaciones de Limon

© Plantaciones de Limon


The European Commission has lifted its ban on citrus imports from Argentina. Trade was suspended last August following a number of interceptions of Citrus Black Spot in shipments. Argentina’s plant health authority Senasa said the new measure would come into effect on 1 May.

Senasa’s president, Carlos Paz, said the lifting of the ban followed concerted efforts by the public and private sectors to strengthen control measures in the field and packhouse and increase the number of staff on its regional teams in order to improve the monitoring and supervision of citrus exports.

Citrus accounts for four out of every ten fruits that Argentina exports and the EU is one of its biggest markets, taking around 200,000 tons of citrus in the last five years.

The measures and conditions for the re-entry of citrus fruit to the EU include additional actions that must be carried out both by the different actors of the private and public sectors.

These include mandatory field application of phytosanitary treatments against Black Spot; official verification of the application of these treatments; laboratory analysis of the fruit sampled both in the field and in packaging when suspicious symptoms of the disease are detected; official communication to the EU of the lists of production units and names of the companies responsible for the units, as well as updates to these lists.

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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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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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South Korea gives green light to imports of Colombian avocado 

South Korea gives green light to imports of Colombian avocado 
Photo: Colombian avocado – Eurofresh Distribution

South Korea has granted access to Colombia’s Hass avocado. Colombia’s Agriculture Minister Rodolfo Zea Navarro said the Asian market has huge potential: “South Korea is a strategic partner in Asia. Between 2016 and 2020, its avocado imports grew by 252 per cent, and it is currently the fifth largest importer of this product in Asia.”

Colombia is now establishing itself as a major global player in the avocado sector, with access to 26 markets worldwide. Indeed, avocados have become the second-largest non-traditional product in the country’s agri-export basket, with sales totalling US$144m in 2020.


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CMR Group aims to expand customer portfolio and increase turnover in 2021

CMR Group aims to expand customer portfolio and increase turnover in 2021

CMR Group, a leading Spanish importer and marketer of fruit and vegetable products, aims to increase its turnover by 10% in 2021 compared to last year and expand its customer portfolio.

Some of the group’s products have performed very strongly since the outbreak of the pandemic, especially during lockdowns, such as citrus, while others, focused on the food service channel, have seen notably reduced demand. 

With a seasonally adjusted and wide offer, CMR Group covers all sales channels, from retail to large distribution, with supply programmes that cover all campaigns and adapt to the different formats and specificities that each channel requires. The group operates out of the Mercabarna, Mercamadrid and Mercaleón wholesale markets to serve its specialised customers, as well as through export departments to reach customers from other countries. It also has commercial sales offices in France and the Netherlands. 

Jordi Martí, national commercial director of CMR Group, said: “We have noticed a very positive response both in modern distribution customers, especially supermarkets, and in the traditional channel, but a marked decrease throughout the foodservice channel.” 

CMR Group supplies the whole of Europe. Its strategy is to expand its client portfolio, given its ability to provide reliable and regular services with high-quality products from many different origins, as well as from its own melon and watermelon production areas. CMR’s off-season and sustainable production guarantees supply and complies with the programmes established at the beginning of each campaign. In addition, ten years after the current central warehouse began operating, CMR Group has completed the construction of new ripening chambers that will complement the current offer. “We have experienced a progressive rise in demand for pre-ripened products, due in part to the great response we have received from our avocado brand AURUM,” said Martí.

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IG International celebrates 50 years in Indian market

IG International  celebrates 50 years in Indian market
Photos: IG International

This year, IG International Pvt Ltd, one of India’s largest importers of fresh fruit, is celebrating its 50th anniversary. “Over the past 50 years, we have built a global sourcing infrastructure made up of strong associations and partnerships with the world’s top fruit growers. We have the largest distribution and wholesale network of imported fresh fruits in India. We have our own cold storage in different cities and a fleet of reefer trucks for efficient handling and transportation of fresh fruits in temperature-controlled environments,” said the firm’s director Tarun Arora. IG International is a group of 14 companies operating in diverse sectors. Besides imports, IGIPL’s portfolio includes temperature-controlled warehousing and third-party logistics, with facilities in Amravati, Theog, Chandigarh, Jaipur, Bangalore, Chennai and Mumbai. “We have a fleet of around 100 reefer trucks and trailers; with each trailer comprising 40 reefer containers. They move around 40,000 tons of fresh fruit annually around India,” said Arora.

IG International Pvt Ltd has managed to become a leader in the fresh produce industry thanks to its strong cold chain infrastructure for the past two decades. “IGIPL has by far the largest cold chain network in India and has been continuously investing in upgrading and bringing best cold chain technologies to the country. It is vital to have a strong cold chain when it comes to perishables,” said Arora. As for the future, IG is at the forefront of digital ecosystems, backwardly integrated for last-mile online order fulfilment and delivery in cities and tier-2 and tier-3 towns across India. The firm’s strategy is to expand its reach to customers across India through this “phygital” route. IG is working on expanding its physical network in order to serve a larger number of wholesalers and retailers in tier-2 towns through its wholesale outlets. The company’s underlying strategy is to promote the imported fruits category across all consumer segments.

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Vietnam: New standards impact Vietnamese fruit exports

Vietnam: New standards impact Vietnamese fruit exports

The pandemic has impacted the value of Vietnamese fruit exports, while China’s new quality and origin standards are setting off alarms.

Vietnam earned US$3.26 billion from exporting fruit and vegetables in 2020, a year-on-year decline of 13%, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) has reported. Exports were down because many items with high export value registered sharp drops in volume, such as dragon fruit (-10%), which accounts for about 36% of total export value, bananas (-13.1%), durian (-56%), lychee (-22%), and watermelon (-36%). These result have been attributed to declining imports from China. Vietnam imported 25% less fruit and vegetables than in 2019. However, stable growth was registered for exports to other countries, such as Thailand (+140 %), the US and South Korea (both +11%), and Japan (+5%). It should be remembered that fruit and vegetable exports were severely hit by the COVID-19 pandemic around the world. According to MARD, Vietnam spent US$1.29 billion on importing fruit and vegetables last year, down 27.5% against 2019. Vietnam exports dragon fruit, watermelon, lychee, longan, banana, mango, jackfruit, rambutan, and mangosteen to China, which remains the country’s largest export market, accounting for 27.8% of all agricultural exports. The ministry will continue to promote the market opening process as a matter of priority.  Regarding the domestic market, heavy downpours and flooding have caused vegetable prices to rise in the central region. Similarly, southern localities have also registered increases in the prices of vegetables due to the declined supply from the provinces of Lam Dong and Dak Lak. In contrast, stable supply has led to prices of vegetables in the north seeing little fluctuation.

The search for new markets for dragon fruit

In order to enter new export markets and reduce dependency on the Chinese market, Vietnamese dragon fruit needs to increase in value. In the first 11 months of this year, dragon fruit exports fell by 10% because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but still dominated Vietnamese fruit exports, with shipments worth over US$1 billion. In Ho Chi Minh City, the fruit sells for 7,500 VND or even 6,600 VND per kg. This is because of the overwhelming dependence on the Chinese market. While it is now also exported to new markets such as the US, the EU, Japan, Australia, and South Korea, China still accounts for 92.3% of Vietnam’s dragon fruit exports. Thus, whenever there is any problem in the Chinese market such as COVID-19 pandemic, the repercussions are immediately felt in Vietnam. According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the fruit’s production area now extends to about 57,000 hectares and output totals over 500,000 tons, up 20-fold from 10 years ago.

Durian, pomelo and passion fruit to be exported to China

Currently, there are nine types of fresh fruits from Vietnam authorised for export to China through official channels: dragon fruit, watermelon, lychee, longan, banana, mango, jackfruit, rambutan and mangosteen. In addition to durian, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development continues to work on gaining access to the Chinese market for exports of pomelo, passion fruit, avocado, sugar-apple, coconut, Lanxangia tsaoko and pineapple. A protocol has recently been signed to allow black jelly and sweet potato exports to China.

Avocado supply to become excessive 

According to the Department of Crop Production, avocado production area is growing many times faster than it was three years ago. Avocado is a perennial industrial cultivar that bears fruits after three years of growing and produces fruits for many years. So there must be planning at the provincial level and mass cultivation should be avoided. Moreover, Vietnam’s avocado varieties do not meet the size and quality requirements for export to the US and EU markets; neither is there currently a negotiation roadmap for the legal export of avocados to China. Therefore, enterprises, provinces, and farmers need to think carefully before planting avocado trees.

Key facts 2021

Capital: Hanoi

Geography: 63 provinces and municipalities

Land area: 331,236 sq. km

Population 98.2 million

GDP (2019): US$329.54 billion (expected to increase to almost $530.28 billion by 2025)

GDP per capita: forecasted to be US$3,758 in December 2021

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Indian apple sector wary of Iranian imports

Indian apple sector wary of Iranian imports Hill State Horticulture Forum © Greater Kashmir

These Indian farmers formed the Hill State Horticulture Forum. © Greater Kashmir


Apple growers of Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Uttarakhand have grouped together to fight the alleged smuggling of Iranian apple into Indian markets. These farmers have formed the Hill State Horticulture Forum to raise their concerns. The president of the Fruits, Vegetables and Flowers Growers Association of Himachal Pradesh, Harish Chauhan, alleges that Iranian apples are being brought into India through Afghanistan without paying the required import duties. “We have decided to come on a platform to fight this threat. Along with the apple growers, small CA store owners, arhtiyas and other stakeholders in the apple business, too, will be roped in. We will raise the matter with the Central Government as well as our state governments,” said Chauhan.

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South Africa remains top source of citrus imports to EU

South Africa remains top source of citrus imports to EU © Eurofresh Distribution
© Eurofresh Distribution


The EU’s citrus imports hit a new high in 2020, with South Africa the number-one non-EU source of citrus, accounting for 44% of the total volume, according to data published by the Valencian Association of Farmers. The 2020 volume of 968,600 tons was up 24.8% from the previous season. The main growth segments are late mandarins, which coincide with early Valencian varieties. Egypt is in second position, with 334,350 tons (+16% from 2019). Turkey’s exports were up by 49.5% to 190,300 tons. Meanwhile, Morocco’s shipments fell, due to the drop in production caused by drought, while Argentina was subjected to an EU ban on imports of lemons and oranges after 133 interceptions of pests and diseases were recorded in their merchandise.

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Russia’s pear imports plummet

Russian Imports of Pears in MT, MY 2017/2018 - MY 2019/2020

Russia remains the second largest importer of pears in the world, despite the decline for the second year in a row, according to USDA data. In 2019/2020, pear imports dropped by 25% in volume to 194,064 tons and 7% in value due to higher prices for imported pears, resulting in lower demand.  After the 2014 ban restricting imports of fruit from the European Union, Russia began to import pears from Southern Hemisphere countries, which supplied pears from February to September.  In 2019/2020, exports from Argentina and South Africa increased and accounted for two-thirds of the overall imports to the Russian Federation, while the supply from other origins declined significantly.

In 2020/2021, imports of pears are projected to increase slightly to 195,000 tons due to lower priced product from Argentina and Turkey.  For the first two months of the 2020/2021 marketing year, imports were up by 20% compared to last year due.