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EU-Mexico talks underway for agreement on organic trade

European Commission and Mexico to start negotiations on a bilateral agreement on trade in organic products

The European Commission and government of Mexico have started negotiations towards a bilateral agreement on trade in organic products.

A commission press release said both sides aim to “swiftly conclude” an agreement that would foster expansion of the market for organic farmers, reduce the burden for companies and supply more organic products for consumers.

Mexico’s Secretary of Agriculture José Calzada and EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan met in Mexico City on February 10 to launch negotiations, “with a view to acknowledging the equivalence of each other’s organic legislation and control systems.” Hogan is visiting Mexico from 10 to 12 February 2016, accompanied by a delegation of 35 European businesses representing a wide range of the European Union’s agri-food sector.

According to the statement, organic farming is going through a period of expansion in Mexico. In 2014, the total area planted with organic crops amounted to 24.5 thousand ha, producing 104.4 thousand tons of organic products, valued at 1,062 million pesos. Tomatoes, coffee, strawberries and raspberries stand out as the leaders in value generation among organic crops.

In the EU, the organic sector has been rapidly developing in recent years, with a total area of 10.3 million ha cultivated as organic in 2014, up from 6.4 million ha in 2005. The EU market for organic products amounts to some 40% of the world market – second only to the US (43%).


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Discover ‘Organic 3.0’ at Germany’s Biofach fair

The diversity of the global organic industry will be displayed by over 2,400 exhibitors from February 10-13 at Biofach, billed as the world's leading trade fair for organic food.

The diversity of the global organic industry will be displayed by over 2,400 exhibitors from February 10-13 at Biofach, billed as the world’s leading trade fair for organic food.

Being held at the Nuremberg Exhibition Centre in Germany, the fair will cover product-oriented and political topics, and the future of trade will be the focus of the two business and trading platforms.

The Biofach congress – the biggest organic congress in the world –  starts on Wednesday February 10 and runs throughout the exhibition in NCC Ost, NCC Mitte and hall 9. With some 100 presentations and panel discussions reaching more than 7,000 participants, it is a platform for knowledge transfer, information exchange, discussion and opinion forming.

This year the theme is Organic 3.0 – Acting for more organic! This is an umbrella for discussion of the future of the organic sector and need for credible and sustainable concepts to restructure the global agriculture and food industry.

Another highlight of Biofact is that it gathers the world’s most important innovations in trend and niche markets in one place. The 500m² Novelty Stand provides a chance to discover new products and creations from the organic sector, showing how good ideas, the best raw materials, ecological packaging concepts and creative design enhance the increasingly varied spectrum of organic products.

It is where voting will take place for the Best New Product Award 2016, the categories for which include fresh food, frozen food, grocery products: cooking & baking, grocery products: snacks & sweets, other grocery products, drinks, and non-food.

Meanwhile, young, aspiring start-ups will present their ideas at the Innovation made in Germany pavilion. which has sponsorship from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi).

For Germany’s specialist retailers, such as natural food stores and health food shops, the Fachhandelstreff, in stand 9-551 in hall 9, will be a magnet. Encompassing the Fachhandels Forum and the Fachhandels Club, it offers a wide-ranging programme of discussions tailored to be highly useful to this target group.

Biofach organisers say for some time now organic products have ceased to be in a niche and are instead working their way into the mainstream – presenting specialist stores with new challenges. The rising demand for organic products is being met by more and more retailers. For example, with Edeka having recently started to stock Alnatura products, the number of sales outlets offering this range alone has now doubled to 7,500 since the beginning of this year.

According to the German Federation of the Organic Food Industry (BÖLW), which is Biofach’s national supporting organisation and headquartered in Berlin, the income from the German organic market rose 4.8% to €7.9 billion in 2014. Specialist stores were the main beneficiaries, enjoying a 9% increase in revenue.

In the first half of 2015, German households spent 8.4% more on organic products compared to the same period in 2014, and surveys indicate that specialist stores saw an increase of 10.5%. By the end of 2015, Germany’s total revenue from organic products is expected to have exceeded €8 billion.

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Innovation and organic produce at Alimentaria


With more foreign visitors this year – a total of 42,000 from 141 countries – organisers said it was the “most international, gastronomic and innovative” edition of the fair.

Mercabarna optimizing logistics
Among the exhibitors was Mercabarna, where director of strategy and marketing Pablo Vilanova Montagut told us about this Mediterranean food hub’s aim to streamline transport for mixed cargoes.
A handy pantry of fresh produce from which European buyers can mix and match to meet their needs – that’s one vision of itself Mercabarna is now promoting. And apart from making it easier for such traders to come to the market and take their shopping home with them, Barcelona’s wholesale food market is studying how to help the more than 200 firms specializing in fruit and vegetables there deliver orders of all sizes to far-flung buyers and to do it cheaper and faster.

Nice Fruit “revolution” in frozen fruit
Spanish company Nice Fruit won various innovation prizes at Alimentaria its patented “air-based” technology for freezing fruit. The result is a product that once thawed is not only equal to fresh fruit in taste and texture but has many advantages over it. Nice Fruit has been operating for just over eight months and already sells all of its 30 ton daily production from its plant in Castellbisbal (Barcelona) to the food service sector. Three more plants of the same capacity will be built this year: one in the Philippines, mainly for mango, another in Costa Rica, for pineapple, and the third in Colombia, for mango, avocado and strawberry. By the end of the year the company will produce 90 tons/day and that still won’t meet demand.