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More loose grapes allowed under mooted marketing standard change

Up to 12% of fresh tables grape in class I and class II sales packages could be loose under changes being considered to the relevant international quality standard.

Up to 12% of fresh tables grape in class I and class II sales packages could be loose under changes being considered to the relevant international quality standard.

Consultation is now open on the proposed changes until June 30, according to a document published in the wake of last week’s meeting of the Working Party on Agricultural Quality Standards Specialized Section on Standardization of Fresh Fruit and Vegetables, part of the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).

A separate proposal document published before the meeting said loose grape berries occur “due to a treatment with growth regulators or due to over ripeness.”

“A few loose berries, i.e. berries detached from the bunch/cluster may be allowed (on marketing stages following dispatch), provided the loose berries are sound and intact. In order to define the tolerances for loose berries, the following paragraphs are proposed to be added to the tolerances of classes I and II…,” it said.

The proposal for class I was a maximum of 5%, by number or weight, of loose berries, and 10% for class II. But in the document published after the meeting, a maximum of 12% for both classes is proposed.

The changes would be made to the UNECE Standard for Table grapes – FFV-19 (2010). UNECE says such standards facilitate trade, providing traders and inspectors with a reliable reference standard. By referencing the UNECE standard in contracts, traders can be assured the products they order live up to the specified quality and sizing criteria in the standards, it says.

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Changes proposed to fruit, veg standards

The Specialized Section on Standardization of Fresh Fruit and Vegetables is to consider changes to standards for truffles, garlic, headed cabbage, table grapes, annonas (soursop), sweet peppers, tomatoes, leeks, citrus, apples, aubergines.

Food waste related to the use of standards is among the topics up for discussion at a UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) meeting in Geneva starting on Monday April 18.

Traceability and quality tolerances in marketing standards are also on the provisional agenda for the meeting of the Working Party on Agricultural Quality Standards Specialized Section on Standardization of Fresh Fruit and Vegetables.

And also to be debated are revisions of UNECE standards for the following:

  • Truffles
  • Garlic
  • Headed Cabbage
  • Table Grapes
  • Annonas (Soursop)
  • Sweet Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Leeks
  • Citrus fruit
  • Apples
  • Aubergines

According to the meeting agenda, the Specialized Section may also consider other standards, including:

  • Proposal by Brazil to amend the UNECE Standard for Fresh Figs,
  • Proposal by Germany to confirm or amend the UNECE Standard for Chicory,
  • Proposal by Spain to confirm or amend the UNECE Standard for Avocados.

Source of apple image: www.pexels.com

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Popularity of baby avocados poses export challenge

Many Spanish companies are now trading in mini avocados - aka babycados - due to demand from other markets but Spain says the current avocado trade standard poses a problem.

Amid a boom in demand for the baby version, Spain is calling for a change to the trade standard for avocados.

It says many Spanish companies are now trading in mini avocados – aka babycados – due to demand for them in other markets. However, Spain has had problems applying the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) standard for avocados to them. That’s because while these kinds of avocados are of good quality, they don’t comply with the standard’s sizing provisions, it said.

In a submission dated March 10, a Spanish delegation proposes that the avocado standard be amended so that its size requirements do not apply to miniature produce. It made the submission in the lead up to the 64th session of the Specialized Section on Standardization of Fresh Fruit and Vegetables of the UNECE Steering Committee on Trade Capacity and Standards, being held in Geneva April 18-21. 

UK premium retailer Marks and Spencer announced in January that it is now stocking mini Hass avocados, half the size of the regular avocado. Grown near Malaga, Spain, they will be on shelves from January-April and sold in packs of five for £2. M&S says the flavour is more concentrated in the smaller avocados, which are “rich, sweet and creamy.” It also reported that last year it sold more than 11.5 million units of avocados, up 18% on 2014.

Fellow UK retailer Waitrose also offers baby avocados. According to its website, the origins for the product are the US, Tanzania, Spain (incl. the Canary & Balearic Is.), South Africa, Peru, Morocco, Kenya, Israel, Colombia, Chile and Brazil.

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New standard for prospering persimmon trade

International trade in the persimmon, also known as kaki fruit, will be enhanced with the adoption by UNECE in 2015 of the first international quality standard for this fruit.

The first international quality standard for the persimmon, also known as kaki fruit, was adopted in November by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).

Having a standard for the fruit will make trade easier, open opportunities for exporter countries and offer farmers, traders and inspectors a reliable reference standard, UNECE said in a press release. By referencing the UNECE standard in contracts, traders can be assured the products they order live up to the specified quality and sizing criteria outlined in the standards, it said.

The new persimmon standard, for which preparatory work was initiated by Tajikistan, outlines quality requirements for the products at the export-control stage, after preparation and packaging. These requirements include provisions concerning:

  • quality (such as requirements of the product to be intact, sound and clean, and practically free from pests, etc.),
  • sizing,
  • tolerances for defects,
  • presentation (such as packaging specifications),
  • and marking.

The name ‘persimmon’ is derived from ‘putchamin’, used by the American Indians of the Algonquian tribe for the North American varieties. Persimmons are reportedly high in beta carotene and minerals and are a typical autumn fruit.

They are primarily grown in Asia – with China, the Republic of Korea, Japan and Azerbaijan accounting for 95% of the 4.6 million tons produced globally in 2013, according to FAO data. UNECE said.

Until recently, persimmons were relatively little known in Europe but in the past years, trade in them has increased drastically, with Spain emerging as one of the largest exporting countries following the application of new post-harvest techniques allowing for the fruit to be transported longer distances. Today consumers can find persimmons worldwide and in many varieties.

Excerpts from the 2015 UNECE persimmon standard:

A. Minimum requirements

In all classes, subject to the special provisions for each class and the tolerances allowed, the persimmons must be:
• Intact, with the calyx attached, which may be with or without peduncle and dry and brown
• Sound; produce affected by rotting or deterioration, such as to make it unfit for consumption, is excluded
• Clean, practically free of any visible foreign matter
• Practically free from pests
• Free from damage caused by pests affecting the flesh
• Free of abnormal external moisture
• Free of any foreign smell and/or taste.

The development and condition of the persimmons must be such as to enable them:
• To withstand transportation and handling
• To arrive in satisfactory condition at the place of destination.

B. Maturity requirements

The persimmons must be sufficiently developed, and display satisfactory ripeness. The development and state of maturity of the persimmons must be such as to enable them to continue their ripening process and to reach the degree of ripeness required in relation to the varietal characteristics.
At least the lower 1/3 of the fruit should be yellow or the colour of the fruit should be turning.

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Debate next week over blood orange & other fresh produce package labelling

Differing views between Italy, the US and Spain on terms used for labelling citrus fruit packages are among topics to be discussed at a United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) meeting in Geneva next week.

Differing views between the US, Spain and Italy on terms used for labelling citrus fruit packages are among topics to be discussed at a United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) meeting in Geneva next week.

The US has advised it is “deeply concerned” that proposed changes could mean its quality inspectors are asked “to validate species, varieties and/or their hybrids – something they are not trained or equipped to do.”

In regard to the labelling of packages containing a mixture of citrus fruit of different species, a working group has proposed  the name of the variety or variety group – for example: “Navels”, “Valencias”, “Sanguinelli”, “Tarocco”, etc. – be required.

Among its comments on proposed changes, Spain said it would prefer to label the name of the variety as under the current standard but could accept the name of the variety group for oranges as an option. Spain proposes adding more examples “to make it clear that there are two options of marking: variety or variety group.” It proposed the following label options: “Navelina” or “Navels”, “Valencia delta seedless” or “Valencias”, “Sanguinelli” or “Blood oranges”, “Tarocco” or ”Blood oranges”, etc.

Meanwhile among its comments, Italy said the indication “Blood oranges” as a variety group could create a misunderstanding. “Please note that for us “Tarocco” and “Sanguinello” are variety groups,” it said.

The discussion about changes is part of a plan to make labelling of citrus fruit packages unambiguous and easy to follow. This would involve changes the UNECE Standard for Citrus Fruit. The issue is on the agenda for the sixty-third session of the Specialized Section on Standardization of Fresh Fruit and Vegetables (GE.1) to be held April 21-24.

Also up for consideration are a draft Standard for Lambs Lettuce and an explanatory brochure and Standard for Persimmons.

And among other revisions to UNECE standards to be discussed are:

  • Apples: relating to the structure of the List of Varieties taking into consideration the correspondence received from the delegation of the Netherlands and WAPA;
  • Garlic: the Spanish delegation will make proposals on revising the Standard for Garlic to reflect the results of the OECD work on an explanatory brochure for this product;
  • Watermelons: the Specialized Section will continue its work on revising the Standard for Watermelons;
  • Early and ware potatoes: the Hungarian delegation is expected to provide information supporting its proposals for revising the standard;
  • Tomatoes: delegations will revisit the 2014 post-session text of the tomatoes standard to decide whether to delete “cherry tomatoes” from the commercial types listed in the “Definition of produce” section;
  • Leeks: the Specialized Section may wish to review the Standard for Leeks to take into account the OECD work on an explanatory brochure for this product.

Separately, the delegations of France, Hungary and Poland have requested a discussion on how marking or labelling provisions of the standards could support traceability, and a working group will report on food waste related to the use of standards.

The agenda also says that the Specialized Section will discuss its future work and whether the following standards, last amended in 2010, need to be reviewed in 2016: anonas, artichokes, asparagus, aubergines, avocados, beans, berry fruit, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, cauliflower, ceps, cherries, cucumbers, courgettes, kiwifruit, peaches and nectarines, peas, ribbed celery, rhubarb, root and tubercle vegetables, strawberries, and table grapes.

Documents for the meeting are available online here: http://www.unece.org/index.php?id=38235#/
Blood Orange image by Eric Hill from Boston, MA, USA [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons