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Del Monte and Australian university research disease-resistant bananas

Del Monte and Australian university research disease-resistant bananas

Del Monte has teamed up with Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Australia to develop sustainable disease-resistant bananas. The main focus will be on breeding varieties with resistance to Tropical Race 4, a fungus that has blighted the world’s banana crops over the past decade. Del Monte’s involvement in this research is aimed at ensuring the industry’s long-term sustainability and overcoming the main challenges.

The scientific team at QUT is led by Professor James Dale, a leading researcher in the field of biotechnology with an emphasis on biofortification, molecular farming, and disease resistance, including both traditional and genetically modified bananas. Dale’s research team has already produced promising results using CRISPR techniques of gene-editing. 

Dale said: “These new gene-editing technologies represent a new opportunity for addressing the global food supply in ways we never imagined. Our partnership with Fresh Del Monte represents a great opportunity for our research to reach society in an efficient and commercially feasible manner.”

Hans Sauter, chief sustainability officer and senior VP of research and development, agricultural services for Fresh Del Monte, said: “The ability to leverage the capabilities of the team at QUT is very exciting. We see the potential with these revolutionary technologies, and we are looking forward to putting these tools to work to solve real problems facing the world. Fresh Del Monte is proud to partner with a respected research university facility like QUT in this endeavour.”

Fresh Del Monte and QUT’s collaboration is to be carried out with multiple phases over the next five years.


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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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Health trend favours frozen over fresh fruit

Euromonitor says last year the health trend saw Americans flock to frozen fruit for their smoothies, which is only slightly processed and arguably just as healthy as fresh fruit.

Frozen fruit sales benefitted more than fresh fruit from the trends towards healthier diets which influenced the fresh food market in the United States last year.

According to Euromonitor, Americans are increasingly “counting ingredients, not calories” and eschewing heavily processed foods for fresh and natural offerings.

But in a summary of its latest Fresh Fresh Food in the US report, the market research provider says that while these trends seem like they would be an incredible boon to the fresh food market, “what has resulted instead is high growth in minimally (but still) processed food rather than in fresh food.”

“For example, in 2015 Americans flocked towards frozen fruit for their smoothies, which is only slightly processed and arguably just as healthy as fresh fruit.

“What fresh food lacks is the element of convenience – nor does it have an adequate shelf life for many consumers. Americans are convinced of the health benefits of a whole food diet, but are unwilling to commit the time and effort to a diet comprised primarily of fresh rather than processed food,” Euromonitor said.

Pulses lead the way

Also, while sales of fresh food increased by 1% in total volume terms over 2010-15 – with pulses recording by far the highest growth (8%) – eggs and fruit saw declines due to disease and poor conditions affecting yields. The drought in California, a key producer of fruit, vegetables and nuts, was one of the most significant factors affecting fresh food in the US in 2015, Euromonitor said.

Fresh food is expected to achieve a 1% total volume CAGR for the five years to 2020, with pulses again growing at the fastest rate.

Sustainable production key to growth

Euromonitor said the erratic weather, disease and legislative moves seen in the US in recent years have contributed to declines in some categories.

“In the future, the categories that are expected to record unequivocal increases are those with fresh food that is humanely and sustainably produced. These categories will thus not be party to restrictive legislation, which could thwart their sales growth, and their food is grown in a way that is tolerant of erratic weather; moreover, such food is not wholly dependent on international trade.

“Fulfilling these criteria makes a product more likely to be trusted by the public, and not be sensitive to external factors in terms of price. Pulses, as well as some starches such as sweet potatoes, for example, fulfil these requirements and are expected to continue the success they have had in past years.”

Retail channels increasingly offer fresh food

Over 2010-15, retail channels changed the way fresh food is sold. “There is an increasing prevalence of packaged fresh food sold via retail. For example, grocers have encouraged volume sales of fruits and vegetables by cutting and packaging the items in-store. Such practices increase retail profits, as these minimally processed products are sold at much higher margins.

Retail is also benefiting from the popularity of internet retailers, which are increasingly successful at fast delivery in order to maintain product freshness,” Euromonitor said.

Euromonitor’s full report is available for purchase here.
Photo by Devin Rajaram via

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The rising relevance of mobile retail

Retailers are optimistic about location-based services – 57% consider them a great opportunity for physical stores, with more benefits than costs.

What are the top trends in retail? To find out and gain important insights into formats, internet sales, and location-based services, GfK, Germany’s largest market research institute, surveyed more than 500 people from 60 countries, including members of the retail sector and relevant experts.

In 2013, the top 3 trends in the retail sector were internet, price competition and the concentration of distribution. But by last year they had changed to convenience, internet and mobile communication. And more importantly, in the future, the key trends are expected to be mobile communication, ahead of convenience and internet, then seamless multi-channel retailing and transparency.

Thus, factors such as price competition, which is significant now, are expected to lose importance in future, while others, such as seamless multi-channel retailing, gain relevance, and mobile communication – which Gfk says is “very promising” – moves to the top. “Retail formats incorporating mobile retail solutions are expected to be most successful in future,” GfK said in its Retail Trend Monitor 2015 report. It also said that the pure internet players of today are expected to be lower on the scale of success in future.

Location-based services an opportunity

GfK surveyed the retailers and experts on their opinion of using location-based services to attract customers and/or study customer behavior in stationary (bricks-and-mortar) stores through mobile apps. An example is using beacon technology so that as a participating consumer moves through the city, nearby retailers can send them targetted offers such as coupons, discounts, and alerts to their mobile device (localised via GPS) to attract them into the store. They can also use the mobile devices to track the movement and buying behaviour of consumers participating in the service.

GfK’s main findings on use of location-based services are that:

  • Retailers are optimistic about location-based services – 57% consider them a great opportunity for physical stores, with more benefits than costs;
  • Increasing the awareness of these services still holds potential – 24% are still not familiar with them.

Source: GfK Retail Trend Monitor 2015: Nino Kereselidze, junior marketing consultant, and Markus Tuschl,global director of Digital Retail.

Image: geralt via Pixabay

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Why and where the market for fruit and vegetable ingredients is flourishing



The market for fruit and vegetable ingredients is projected to grow at a CAGR of 6.6% and to exceed $180 billion by 2019, according to a report by market research firm MarketsandMarkets.

And while Europe led the market for fruit and vegetable ingredients in 2013 – due to substantial growth in the processed food and beverage sector – the Asia-Pacific region – especially China and India – is expected to be the fastest-growing market for fruit and vegetable ingredients in the next four years. Fruit and vegetable concentrates, in particular, are enjoying increasing demand there in line with growing consumer interest in healthy beverages.

In the report, ‘Fruit and Vegetable Ingredients Market’, author Nayan also predicts growth of the market in Latin America. She said this will be driven by factors such as greater demand for customised fruit and vegetable ingredients due to increasing consumption of processed dairy and ready–to–eat food products.

Fruit and Vegetable Ingredients Market Size, by Region, 2013 ($Billion)

Fruit & Vegetable Ingredients Market

Source: Industry Journals, Company Publications, Related Publications, and MarketsandMarkets Analysis

How fruit and vegetable ingredients are used in the market

The report categorises the fruit and vegetable ingredients market on the basis of the key type of ingredients – concentrates, pastes and purees, NFC (not from concentrate), and pieces and powders.

It also segments them according to the main end applications – beverages, confectionery products, ready-to-eat products, bakery products, soups and sauces, dairy products, and others (including dips, spreads, dressings, toppings, and puddings).

The ready-meals industry is a big user of canned vegetables (mainly for pizzas, pastas, soups and fresh and frozen meals), as is the meal components sector, while baby food companies use a variety of preserved fruit and vegetables.

An application experiencing growth is the use of fruit and vegetable-based ingredients as colouring and flavouring agents in foods and beverages, in response to consumer concern over synthetic ingredients.

Key players analysed in the report

Among leading market players profiled are the Archer Daniels Midland Company (US), Kerry Group plc (Ireland), AGRANA Group (Austria), DohlerGroup (Germany), SunOpta, Inc. (Canada), and SVZ International B.V. (The Netherlands).

Other prominent companies in the market are DIANA S.A.S. (France), Olam International Limited (Singapore), Sensient Technologies Corporation (US), and SensoryEffects Ingredient Solutions (US).

Seasonal shortages, price fluctuations limiting growth

Nayan says government initiatives to promote the fruit and vegetable ingredients industry and increasing trade in these commodities have complemented the overall growth of this industry. “However, strict food safety legislation and seasonal variations affecting the supply of raw materials with fluctuating prices restrain the growth of the market.”

Fruit and Vegetable Ingredients Market Size Trend, 2012–2019 ($Billion)

Fruit & Vegetable Ingredients Market

E – Estimated; P – Projected

Source: Industry Journals, Related Publications, Company Publications, and MarketsandMarkets Analysis

Read more about the ‘Fruit and Vegetable Ingredients Market’ report.

MarketsandMarkets advises that readers can avail of a discount of up to 30% on the off shelf report by using the code FAPRI30 in the “specific interest” section of the contact page of its website.


Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.