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Europe’s agri-food exports rose 5.1% to €137.9 billion in 2017


The EU’s trade commission has published a report detailing the 5.1% rise in the community’s agri-food exports in 2017. The markets which recorded the highest growth were the US (+6%), Russia (+16%) and Asia, particularly Japan (+11%), China (+5%), Hong Kong (+10%) and South Korea (+13%). The best performing sectors were wine, pet food and spirits, while cereals and pig meat exports fell.

Meanwhile, EU agri-food imports also grew but not by as much as exports, leaving a positive agri-food products trade balance surplus of €20.5 billion.

Picture: EU agri-foods trade balance for 2017

Source: COMEXT

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Third country suppliers drive 1% rise in Spanish fresh produce imports


Customs data for the first quarter of the year show that Spain imported 1% more fresh produce (823,000 tons) than over the same period last year. Most of the rise is attributable to larger volumes arriving from third countries (+11%) to 358,000 tons. By contrast, imports of fresh fruits and vegetables from the EU were down 5% to 468,000 tons. Third country imports made up 43.5 per cent of the January-March total, rising from a share of 39.7 per cent in 2017. This data reflect the displacement of the Spanish market to imports from third countries due to greater foreign competition from countries with schedules and crops coinciding with Spanish production.

In terms of value, imports from the EU were down 20% to €213 million, while imports from third countries climbed 12% to €487 million. Spain’s largest EU supplier was France (€74.5 million tons / -33%), while its largest non-EU suppliers were Morocco (€253 million / +11%) and Costa Rica (€38.1 million / +1%). Fruit imports totalled 357,000 tons (+0.5%), worth €465.3 million (+11%). Overall vegetable imports weighed in at 466,000 tons (+1.8%) and were worth €234.2 million (-18%).

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EU imports of fruits and vegetables from third countries up 5% in 2017


According to Eurostat, imports to the EU of fruits and vegetables from third countries rose by 5% in 2017 to 15.5 million tons. About 13.3 million tons of the total imports were fruits (+6%) and 2.2 million tons were vegetables (+1%). The main imported products are banana (5.9 million tons, +7%), orange (1.1 million tons, +11%) and pineapple (941,000 tons, +11%). Other significant imports were apples (448,000 tons, +1%) and avocados (486,000 tons, +9%).

The main vegetable import to the EU is tomato (568,000 tons, +8%), with volumes growing steadily over the past five years. Morocco is the leading supplier of non-EU tomatoes, with volumes of 405,000 tons representing 71% of the total. Other key vegetable products imported to the EU are potato (430,000 tons, +14%), onion (243,000 tons, +8%), peppers (230,000 tons, -1%) and green beans (189,000 tons, -6%).

Overall, vegetable imports are highly concentrated in a small number of products while the range of imported fruit is much broader.

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Zespri on track for record exports to China


At the start of April, the first New Zealand kiwis of the season arrived in China, where demand for the fruit is booming. Indeed, Zespri expects record sales in the country to the tune of €294 million when the financial year ends in June and predicts a doubling over the next four years. Jumbo-sized kiwis weighing 150g can fetch up to €1.90 in China’s premium outlets. 

With the shortfall of kiwis arriving from Europe following a poor growing season, estimates are for a 25% increase this year in imports of New Zealand kiwi fruit. This increase is despite the fact China is the world’s largest producer of kiwi. Demand for the fruit always outstrips supply, especially for Zespri’s products, which are sold under the ‘Jiapei’ brand (the Chinese name for Zespri. Zespri has offices in Shanghai and Beijing, with regional representation in Guangzhou, Xian and Chongqing. The brand has become well-established, having been sold in China for over fifteen years now. China and Japan are the firm’s two leading export markets.

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Surge in Chinese fruit imports


During the first two months of 2018, China’s fruit imports jumped 22% in volume and 58% in value. The main contributors to this growth are cherries, oranges, blueberries, and bananas. China’s cherry imports set a new record, surging 191% higher to 135,000 tons compared to the same period in 2017. Chile is enjoying a record crop this year and the country’s producers are doing their utmost to satisfy Chinese consumers’ apparently insatiable hunger for cherries, exporting 134,000 tons in just two months (+194%).

Orange exports to China were up 40%, with 17,600 tons coming from the US (+30%), and 11,100 tons from Egypt (+76%). China’s domestic orange production was hit this year by citrus greening disease. As for blueberries, imports volumes are up 71% this year, with almost 95% arriving from Chile, with the remainder coming from Peru. China is the fastest-growing market for Chilean blueberries thanks to the perfect sequencing of the two counties’ seasons and the hard work carried out by Chilean trade delegations to promote the fruit in China.


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Russian imports of fruit and vegetables up by 17% in 2017


Russian imports of fresh fruit and vegetables have grown considerably over the past year. The total of 7.1 million tons arriving from abroad in 2017 constitutes a rise of 17% over the 2016 level. Nevertheless, this figure is still well below the 2013 level – the year before the trade embargo came into force – when almost 8.5 million tons of fresh fruit and vegetables were imported into Russia.  The recovery is due in part to the Russian Government lifting its own trade embargoes on various Turkish products in 2017 and also thanks to the arrival of record volumes of Ecuadorian bananas. There were also increases in imports from China, Egypt, Azerbaijan and Moldova.

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Sicily inundated with imported products sold as local

122cit igp arancia rossa

Imports of fresh produce are being passed off as PGI products grown in Sicily. This is the assertion of the island’s Regional Councilor for Agriculture, Edy Bandiera. Containers of unlabeled tomatoes and oranges with the PGI brand have arrived at the port of Pozzallo this year from abroad, as well as Egyptian potatoes labeled as Sicilian. In the past year, there have been a hundred sanctions for irregular products arriving on the island, leading to the setting up of a special task force to deal with the problem.

This year, more than 76 million agro-food products have landed in Sicilian ports from abroad. Airports inspectors last year found a container of oranges from Tunisia that were not conserved properly, as well as lemons and mangoes bringing pests with them from North Africa. Just in the night of January 31st, the taskforce found that of the 36,000 kilos of artichokes arriving, more than half had no indications of origin. The same was the case with almost 6,000 kilos of lemons and tangerines, 7,500 kilos of oranges. The Sicilian government suspects that these products are being sold as local, leading to risks for consumers and producers alike.


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Russia authorises imports from two more Turkish tomato suppliers

tom turkey

Russia’s agriculture safety watchdog said on March 28 that it is to allow tomato imports from two more Turkish firms as of March 29. This will take to twelve the number of Turkish producers authorised to supply tomatoes to Russia. The Turkish finance minister, Nihat Zeybekci has said her government is absolutely against Russia’s setting of limits and has threatened to respond in kind. In October 2017, Russia agreed to lift its restrictions on the import of Turkish tomatoes. However, Moscow has continued to implement import quotas.


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Organic pear, avocado and apple imports increasing in the US



US imports of certified organic pears, avocados and apples are showing triple digit growth in value for the first ten months of this year, compared to the same period last year.

And organic garlic, non-greenhouse bell peppers and blueberries have notched up double digit gains.

Organic bananas and mangoes, however, are at both values and volumes less than half those of 2013. Nevertheless, bananas, followed by apples, avocados and mangoes, lead in total value imported among those organic fresh fruits and vegetables being tracked by the USDA.

The figures come from the selected organics section of the Foreign Agricultural Service’s Global Agricultural Trade System (GATS), which was updated this week with data to the end of October 2014.


Pears*: those entering US between April 1-June 30 inclusive

Avocados*: Hass avocados and others considered Hass-like, fresh or dried

Apples*: fresh, valued at more than 22 cents/kg

Bell peppers*: other than greenhouse, fresh or chilled

Mangoes*: entering US September 1–May 31, fresh

Mangoes **: entering US between June 1–August 31, fresh


US imports Jan-Oct 2014 for selected organic produce

Imported organic item

VALUE (in thousands of USD)


% Change in Value Jan-Oct 2014 vs same period 2013

% Change in Vol. Jan-Oct 2014 vs same period 2013






Apples Fr >22Cents/Kg





Avocado-Hslike Fr/Dr





Mangoes Fresh 9/1-5/31





Mangoes Fresh 6/1-8/31





Bell Peppers Fr Other





Pears Fresh (April 1-June 30)





Bell Peppers Greenhse





Cultiv Blueberries Fr





Pears Fresh Other Time












Partner Product Value (in thousands of US$) Qty (MT) % Change Value (Jan-Oct 2014 on Jan-Oct 2013) % Change Vol. (Jan-Oct 2014 on Jan-Oct 2013)
World Total Pears Fresh Other Time 2,926 3,026.3 -14 4
Argentina Pears Fresh Other Time 2,889 2,988.7 -12 9
Chile Pears Fresh Other Time 38 37.6 -67 -72
World Total Pears Fresh 4/1-6/30 8,524 7,521.3 228 242
Argentina Pears Fresh 4/1-6/30 8,361 7,409.9 227 245
Chile Pears Fresh 4/1-6/30 163 111.4 342 141


US IMPORTS OF FRESH ORGANIC APPLES (at price >22Cents/Kg) Jan–Oct 2014
Measurement units: Val 1,000 USD, Vol 42LBC
Partner Value Qty % Change in Value on same period in 2013 % Change in Vol. on same period in 2013
World Total 29,396 1,374,204.4 100 68
Chile 18,000 848,496.4 89 61
Argentina 8,627 353,417.6 259 237
New Zealand 2,079 150,790.0 5 -1
Canada 691 21,500.3 -11 -30

US imports of fresh organic cultiv. BLUEBERRIES Jan-Oct 2014
Partner Value in ‘000 US$ Qty in tons % change in value on Jan-Oct 2013 % change in quantity on Jan-Oct 2013
WORLD TOTAL 5,975 1,321.9 43 75
Chile 4,104 1,144.4 15 58
Argentina 1,852 172.5 384 712
South Africa 19 4.9


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African Fruit and Vegetable Exports Safe From Ebola, Experts Say


Fruit and vegetables from Africa will not spread Ebola virus

Imports of fresh fruit and vegetables from Africa are safe and can not spread the Ebola virus, the Bernhard-Nocht-Institute for Tropical Medicine (BNITM) has advised in response to queries by German fruit trade association DFHV.

DFHV raised the question in response to concerns from clients of member companies about whether fruit from Africa could be a source of Ebola infection. BNITM is a World Health Organization (WHO) collaborating centre.

The ebola virus is not easily transmitted from person to person, like a cold or flu. Like the HIV virus, it requires direct contact with infectious body fluids.

Source: BNITM
Pic: ( (ID #1836))