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Robinson Fresh supports programme for Central American organic farming

Helping promote organic farming among family growers in Central America is the aim behind a 3-year agreement between Sustainable Harvest International and the Robinson Fresh organics brand, Tomorrow’s Organics.

Helping promote organic farming among family growers in Central America is the aim behind a 3-year agreement between Sustainable Harvest International and the Robinson Fresh organics brand, Tomorrow’s Organics.

In a press release, Robinson Fresh said Tomorrow’s Organics will help fund these efforts through an annual donation (of an unspecified amount) supported by carton sales of its organic produce.

Based in Monterey, California, the company said Central America is a region plagued by deforestation, soil erosion, and diminished economic opportunities, but one in which Sustainable Harvest International “connects with families to implement sustainable, organic farming techniques to eliminate the need for slash-and-burn farming and improve families’ well- being.”

“Tomorrow’s Organics’ alignment with Sustainable Harvest International is an essential mechanism to bring about positive economic change to these hard-working but impoverished families. It’s widely understood that healthy, thriving rainforests are imperative to keeping the air clean and healthy for every single one of us, around the globe,” said Hunter Winton, general manager of Robinson Fresh, West Region. “Each purchase of Tomorrow’s Organics will help improve living and working conditions for those whose natural environments are compromised.”

Since its start in 1997, Sustainable Harvest International has restored 15,000 acres to farmable land, increased program members’ agricultural income by an average of 23%, and worked with over 2,500 farm families.

“While our organization is small, we are making a big impact in the lives of individual farmers and on the planet. We commend Robinson Fresh for stepping up in a way that most companies don’t—by using their profit for good on a global scale. We urge consumers to see the value of this charitable partnership and in turn, choose the Tomorrow’s Organics brand when given the opportunity,” said Renée Johnson, executive director of Sustainable Harvest international.

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Organics: promising perspectives for 2020

The top US organic exports are fresh fruit: apples (+41%), lettuce, grapes, spinach (+33%), strawberries (+75%) and cherry tomatoes (+75%).

Organic sales have seen a constant increase over the last few years. According to MarketsandMarkets research, the global organic fruit and vegetable trade will reach around $62.97 billion by 2020. Last year, the largest markets were the US, Europe and Asia-Pacific and trends show that the US and Asia-Pacific are the most promising, especially India and China. They are both preparing for huge trade to come: a few months ago, the US and some leading countries of the Asia-Pacific region signed the Trans-Pacific-Partnership agreement, which plans to eliminate 40% of import taxes on organic fruit exports.

BIOFACH, the world leader in organic trade fairs, is tending to develop more and more events in Asia through Biofach Japan, Biofach India and recently Biofach China.

Organics: the American dream

According to a recent report by the Organic Trade Association, US organic trade has considerably increased over the past few years. In 2014, total organic fresh fruit and vegetable imports reached $550 million while exports represented $1.3 billion.

The top US organic exports are fresh fruit: apples (+41%), lettuce, grapes, spinach (+33%), strawberries (+75%) and cherry tomatoes (+75%), while US agricultural organic imports are composed mainly of processed food: coffee, olive oil and wine.

Two main reasons are leading the rise in organic imports in the US: American consumers are buying more and more organic food and there are insufficient organic crops within the US.

Average prices for fresh fruit and vegetables rose by 21% in the US between 2014 and 2015.

US consumers are spending more often and more on organic produce. According to a recent report by the OTA (Organic Trade Association), 51% of US families are buying more than 1 year ago. Organic sales are particularly significant among families: 83% of parents purchase organic produce sometimes, and when they do 97% go for organic fruit and vegetables.

The US government encourages many farmers to start a transition to organic, and 3 000 farms have already started changing.

Organics in Asia: a promising trend

In October 2015, the Philippines, Thailand and Malaysia, 3 of the main organic producers in Asia, met in Negros Occidental to talk about a strategic plan for the organic industry. Conclusions will be further developed with all the ASEAN countries this year. Karen Roscom, officer-in-charge at the Department of Agriculture, said “Through this, we will be able to trade within ASEAN in terms of our organic products.”

In China, organic food sales represented around 30 billion Yuan in 2013 on total agricultural land of 2.722 million hectares. Organic sales in China have increased by 300% over the last 10 years.

In India, the organic food market has seen a big rise with constant growth of 25-30% a year. The government shows strong determination in helping this sector. Biofach India, together with India Organic, was organized in November 2014 in Kerala for the first time. Despite national efforts to promote organics among farmers, national production is still low: according to government data, organic farming represented 4.72 million hectares in 2014 for a total volume of 1.24 million tons. Forecasts say the organic food market will touch $1.36 billion by 2020.

Every year, Thailand organises an annual event: the Annual Asian Organic Festival in Bangkok. Over 3 days, this event encourages healthy habits among the Thai and expat community and to purchase more organic produce through the farmers’ market, with cooking demonstration, nutritional talks and more.

Price of fair trade bananas in December 2015 (FOB – USD/box)
ACP 13.3
Cameroon 8.4
Colombia 10.00
Costa Rica 9.75
Dominican Republic 10.90
Ecuador 9.05
Ghana 8.5
Panama 9.75
Peru (organic) 12.4

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Agroponiente with booming market and organics

Agroponiente confirms its market expansion in the organic segment, in Poland and North America.

Agroponiente is a company located in the Spanish Southeast, mainly in Almeria, but also with facilities along the coast of Granada, cultivating and trading fruit and vegetables such as tomato, cucumber, pepper, aubergine, beans, melons and watermelons, among others. Supply volumes for the current campaign are forecast to be similar last year’s, with slight variations per product and depending on how the market develops, as well as factors affecting it such as foreign competition, weather conditions and other eventualities.

New investments in packing and logistics

Throughout the year just closed, the firm invested over €2 million in upgrading facilities, mainly investing in logistics, reception processing and preparation services for produce in several of its centres. The aim is to continue the ongoing process of adaptation to market demands, while improving the product preparation logistics to meet each customer’s needs. Agroponiente continues its commercial philosophy based on reinforcing the strategies already up and running with its traditional customer base. For several years now the company has been working to open up new niche markets in countries such as the United States and Canada, although the bulk of its production is shipped to Europe, especially to Germany, the UK, Scandinavia, Italy and the booming Polish market, among others.

Organics, the biggest challenge this season

The latest big challenge for Agroponiente is organic production. To this end, a specific department has been created within the company, headed by Diego Oller, a professional in this segment with years of experience and knowledge. Agroponiente regards organic production as a reality with good future prospects for fruit and vegetable trading. To this end, the company has bolstered its activity in this area to meet growing demand from the markets. The company takes up this challenge with the drive, professionalism, knowledge and solvency gained through serving its customers for almost three decades. 

This article appeared on page 130 of edition 141, Jan/Feb 2016, of Eurofresh Distribution magazine. Read that issue online here. 

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Opportunities in the world’s 2nd biggest organic market – Germany

The German organic market is heavenly depending on imports to meet consumer demands.

Germany is the largest market for organic products in Europe and the second biggest in the world, after the US.

It is also Europe’s main organic producer but nevertheless is increasingly dependent on imported organic products, not just for products that aren’t grown in Germany but also for potatoes, fruit and vegetables, dairy products, meat and others, according to a new GAIN report.

There are good opportunities for US exporters of organic products but also challenges, it says. “Success in introducing food products depends mainly on knowledge of the market and personal contact.” It recommends that US suppliers analyse German/EU food law, packaging and labelling requirements, business practices and trade-related laws and tariffs, potential importers and the distribution system.

It also says that purchasing by German food retailers is fragmented and competitive. “Few German retailers import products directly from other countries, except for items that they purchase in large quantities. Most food retailers would rather buy from central buyers/distributors importing food and beverages.”

Read the GAIN report Germany: Organic Food Retail 2016