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Fyffes flags price rises to offset currency fluctuations

Fyffes has delivered a positive performance in the early months of 2015, with profits in the year to date in line with expectations

Dubin-based tropìcal fruit group Fyffes plc says it will continue to pursue “necessary increases in selling prices in all markets” as a response to the significant strengthening of the US Dollar against the Euro and Sterling.

In a stock exchange notice, the importer and distributor of products including bananas, pineapples and melons also said it had delivered a positive performance in the early months of 2015, with profits in the year to date in line with expectations. Fyffes said it is maintaining the following target earnings range for 2015:

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According to a Fyffes plc presentation at its AGM on April 30, Fyffes is Europe’s number one for banana sales and number one in the US for melons.

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The presentation also shows Fyfess grows all of the melons it sells, about 65% of the pineapples and about 7% of the bananas.

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Fyffes plc April 30, 2015 announcement
Fyffes plc presentation at its Annual General Meeting 30 April 2015



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Ecuador sets its sights on export expansion


Ecuadorian mango sector hopeful that improvements to packhouses will help boost exports to European markets
During the 2013/14 season, Ecuador has exported worldwide  11.9m  boxes  of 4kg mangoes, equivalent to approximately a 10% increase compared with the previous campaign.
According to Mr Bernardo Malo, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Ecuador’s Mango Foundation, the vast majority of these volumes – some 85% to be exact – were shipped to the US, which is by some margin the country’s largest market for the fruit. The remainder goes principally to European markets, Canada and Mexico during the season.
However, the Foundation says that important improvements in working practices at mango packhouses in Ecuador, which have been put in place over the recent seasons, are expected to have positive repercussions to exports to Europe.
“Important improvements to packing plants have been carried out with the aim of being able to increase the participation of Ecuadorian mangoes in Europe,” the Foundation said. “Beginning from the 2014 season, we think that Europe will be a destination with a lot more potential for Ecuador.”
In terms of varieties, Tommy Atkins accounts for the majority (67%) of all mango production in Ecuador, followed by Kent (16%), Ataulfo (12%) and the remaining 5% divided between other varieties. For the Foundation, this focus on the most popular mango varieties is also helping make Ecuadorian mangoes attractive for international markets.
Of course, having the correct certification standards in place is vital when it comes to competing effectively in European markets, and for this reason the Foundation said all the mango packhouses in Ecuador are HACCP or Globalgap certified. An estimated 65% of all mango orchards in the country have also now achieved Globalgap certification, the organisation said, demonstrating that both producers and packers had made important investments to increase their competitiveness in international markets.
With this in mind, the Foundation said its member exporters were now looking towards Asia for future growth. “Currently, the sector can be found working to open new markets, particularly China and Japan, due principally to our compliance with phytosanitary protocols demanded by those markets,” it said.
Based in Guayaquil, the Ecuadorian Mango Foundation is a non profit organisation whose main objective is to support producers and exporters in Phytosanitary matters, with a special focus on using the country’s natural resources in a efficient and sustainable way in order to increase productivity.
Mangoes are principally produced in the province of Guayas, with an approximate surface area of around 6,300 ha of which 5,500 ha are dedicated to export. The remaining hectares are devoted to local, Andean markets, and the production of juices and mango concentrate.


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Essential Costa Rica makes Berlin debut

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A campaign that focuses on the ecology and culture of Costa Rica – and its links to the country’s fresh produce sector – will form the theme of national export promotional agency Procomer’s 2014, beginning with its presence at the Fruit Logistica 2014 trade show in Berlin.
Launched during 2013, the Essential Costa Rica brand will be a key part of Procomer’s promotional strategy for the year, which will once again endeavour to push the country’s fruits and vegetables into new markets.
According to Procomer’s Alvaro Piedra, the opening of new markets for Costa Rican fruits remains a central priority for Costa Rica’s government, with the organisation having launched a promotional drive in Peru to complement its existing South America strategy, which is being carried out in conjunction with Chile’s department for commercial promotion.
Also in South America, Procomer plans to strengthen its promotional work in Colombia and Argentina, while it is currently studying the possibility of entering the Brazilian market.
At a European level, the organisation last year carried out its first commercial mission to Poland and is also developing ‘virtual’ missions to the Russian, Swedish and Lithuanian markets – three countries where until now Costa Rica has not had a direct export presence.
However, in spite of its export expansion, Piedra’s says the country’s fresh produce sector continues to face a number of major challenges, which need to be tackled to ensure further growth. “A country like Costa Rica faces several challenges – we have an economy with a very strong agricultural sector, but one which is in the process of transformation towards being service-based,” he says. “Our focus as a country is social wellbeing and this means there are social costs, added to which producing and maintaining employees are both expensive.
“We strive to maintain excellent quality standards and because of this we cannot compete on price, so we have focused on competing on quality.”
As well as this, Piedra says Costa Rican growers have to cope with high taxation on production and packing materials, an unstable exchange rate, high fuel and electricity bills, and an inadequate access to international shipping routes, particularly when it comes to accessing new markets.
In addition, he says internal transportation remains very costly within Costa Rica, while many producers are experiencing difficulties in obtaining credit from banks.
To combat such challenges, Piedra says Procomer offers diverse support programmes to the export sector, through which it looks to not only increase Costa Rican exports, but also increase the competitiveness of producers and exporters. “From personal consultants that teach entrepreneurs how to fill-out their own paperwork for exports to reduce costs in these areas to advice on the logistics of exports, finances and negotiations,” he explains.
“We have worked hard to diversify markets, establish export consortiums and added value programmes, among other support services. We also support the sector through different trade associations and discussion forums that cover all the issues of importance to producers.”
Export success
During 2012, Costa Rica produced more than 9.8m tonnes of fruits and vegetables, of which over 4.6m tonnes was exported. However, the volume of exports is continuing to increase – between 2009 and 2010, it rose 16.6% and shipments during the following 2010/11 and 2011/12 seasons also increased by 4% and 2.1% respectively.
As with previous years, bananas, pineapples, melons and watermelons accounted for the lion’s share of Costa Rica’s fresh produce exports, although the country also exported significant volumes of mangoes, yucca and plantain.
Working with ethical trading groups such as the Fairtrade Foundation and the Rainforest Alliance, Costa Rica has long been keen to stress its ‘green’ credentials – perhaps not surprising in a country where 26% of its total surface area (some 1.3m hectares) are legally protected areas. “Costa Rica is a country that focuses on the environment and social wellbeing where organic programmes are very important,” says Piedra. “These include the Ministry of Agriculture’s National Programme for Organic Agriculture, which promotes and strengthens sustainable organic practices. “At a promotional level, we have worked for a number of years with BioFach trade fair in Germany.
“However, the national market absorbs a lot of our production and the rest of what is available is also placed under contract with international buyers.”

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Prohass assures high quality for this campaign

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To promote Peruvian avocados in Europe, Prohass has continued with its tasting campaign, because, according to the manager, Arturo Medina, once a European customer tries a Peruvian avocado, they will buy it again. In promotional campaigns directed at Europe, they invested 400,000 USD in Germany, 150,000 USD in the UK and 250,000 USD in France. The quantity of Peruvian avocados destined for international export is approximately 107,000 t, according to the data provided by ProHass, of which 70,000 tons goes to Europe and 25,000 tons to the USA. In spite of this, E.U. consumption only grew by 1% whereas it grew by 10% in the USA. “We want the same to happen in Europe as has happened in the U.S. and we know it is going to take a lot of work” explained Medina. “In Europe, people do not know that there are many ways to eat avocado, in contrast with the U.S. which has the influence of Mexico”. Nevertheless, the Prohass director trusts that 2014 will be a good year, due to the high quality of the fruit in 2013, which will serve to restore the much damaged image of the Peruvian avocado after the 2012 campaign. Lima, the Peruvian capital, is where the 2015 World Avocado Conference will be held and where 1500 guests from around the world are expected. “We are already organizing the event. We have created a scientific committee to prepare the conferences in which the best analysts and experts will be involved and we hope that this will be the best avocado congress to date” said Medina.

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West Africa: the mango promoter

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The mango is regarded as the queen of tropical fruit thanks to its flavour and juiciness. Africa is its preferred place of origin.
However, the quality offered by traders is often uneven, and consumers can be dissuaded. In recent years, mango consumption in the European Union has been stagnating. Despite huge promotion campaigns, consumption remains flat at around 230,000 tons. Already twenty years ago, experts were predicting that this tropical fruit could compete with the tropical king, the banana. Today, the mango represents only 5% of all tropical fruit imports. Quality problems on the shelf are the main reason why consumers don’t pick up this nutritious, healthy product. The mango is still considered a delicacy, not a bulk product. Delivering a superior product is a difficult task.
The easiest way is to ship an almost ripe product by plane, but then the product becomes too expensive. Shipping by container is challenging, as the product has to be loaded unripe and then ripened on arrival to transform it to a fruit that is ready to eat.
Brazil and Peru are the main players in the market, accounting for two thirds of it. The Brazilian mango supply for world consumption is greatest from September to March. With all of the varieties grown (Haden, Tommy, Atkins, Kent, Keitt and Palmer), about 90,000 tons are exported to the EU a year. Prices for Brazilian mangoes are generally low because their main variety is the Tommy, which isn’t highly valued in the international market, and for this reason prices remain higher for Mexico and especially Peru, which is particularly involved in the organic side.
After a few years of medium-low production, the 2013-14 Peruvian mango season will provide an abundant volume and an excellent quality of fruit. Peru has always used air transportation, given its adverse geographical location. The real problem lies in the ability to handle large volumes of produce and the resulting logistical organization.
Pakistan, another major mango-producing country, exported 195,000 tons in 2013, up 10%, but it shipped only 12,000 tons to the EU. Almost 80% of the fruit was exported to neighboring Muslim countries. The increase in demand for mango during the holy month of Ramadan has supported this business remarkably.
Israeli mango producers maintained a market of 12,500 tons with newer varieties. The varieties most often grown in the country today, Kent and Keitt, are well known for their excellent quality, sweetness and flavour, but this is not always enough to impress modern consumers. This is because, although they taste good, consumers often buy with their eyes, but what they want to see when it comes to mangoes is plenty of blush.
It is worth having a look at production and exports from Western Africa. This region is the leader in exports in the second quarter of the year. Imports are growing every year, reaching almost 30,000 tons in 2013. During the second quarter, taking 30% of the annual sales, these African imports represent 40% of the market. After the year of rebellion, 2011, Ivory Coast was able to export 15,000 tons. Top quality produce comes from the Korhogo Department in the north of the country. Neighboring countries Senegal, Mali and Guinea also have their production in the region. It is a huge logistical adventure to bring this top quality product to the European market. But the effort is rewarded by the consumer.