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Chile’s grape exporters turn disaster into success 

Chile’s grape exporters turn disaster into success 


A couple of months ago, Chile’s grape sector was looking at a potentially disastrous campaign, given the loss of the lucrative Chinese market. However, suppliers wasted no time in finding other markets and has successfully diverted supplies to the EU and the US. In fact, shipment volumes of Chilean grapes to the EU are up 40%, while exports to the US have risen by 7% from the same period last year. Exporters have also been aided by the weak Chilean peso, which has made its products relatively cheaper for overseas traders.


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Russian retailers take preventive measures against Covid-19

Russian retailers take preventive measures against COIVD-19

Lenta, the 4th largest Russian food retailer, installs protective screens

To protect their cashiers, Lenta, N4 Russian food retailer, is being installing plastic screens. The work has been completed in all 249 retailer’s hypermarkets, and will be completed in its 131 supermarkets by the end of March. It is one among other measures taken by the retailer: the improvement of ventilation systems work, more frequent cleaning of the premises, temperature control for stuff and the installation of disinfection units in every store.

Magnit sends its staff to remote work

Magnit, the second largest Russian food retailer, is going to send half of their office staff for the remote work, in the first place, pregnant women and 50 years old and more employees. Those who cannot work remotely will communicate with all third partners by phone. Total staff of Magnit by the end of 2019 was 308,000, including 50,000 of office workers.

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Agrico launches Next Generation potatoes

Agrico launches Next Generation potatoes


The long wait is over as the launch of Phytophthora- resistant varieties is set to truly propel sustainable potato cultivation.

Developed by Agrico, a pioneer in seed potato cultivation, Next Generation was launched this February as a new line of tubers with Phytopthora resistance. The range includes Carolus, Alouette, Levante, Twister, Twinner, Ardeche and Nofy. Their appearance and excellent taste are preserved and the potatoes can be used in a range of ways, from industrial uses to starch, chips, salads and other chilled potato products.

What keeps Agrico a forerunner in the industry is its focus on innovation. The company started working on developing new potato varieties that are both sustainable and disease-resistant in the 1980s. It has always followed conventional breeding techniques and not resorted to GMOs. “You can be successful even using the traditional ways,” said Wieger van der Werff, commercial manager at Agrico.

Today, Agrico has 750 active growers in the Netherlands and continues to cater to both Europe and overseas. One of the challenges cited by van de Werff is the increasing demand for potatoes. This has been brought about by the emergence of markets such as India, China, and Latin America. In response to this demand, the company has expanded its operations outside the Netherlands, to tap into countries like France, Poland, and Scotland.

Agrico is a Dutch cooperative established in 1973. It entered into a joint project with Bayer and Yara to create sustainable potato value chains in Kenya. The aim is to help small-scale farmers utilise correct and high-quality farming methods. All of these programmes position Agrico as a true leader in elevating both potato breeding and farming. 

For inquiries: Gert Jan Laurman,

TAGS: Agrico, potato, Netherlands, Next Generation

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Maersk “committed to guaranteeing supply chain”

Maersk “committed to guaranteeing supply chain”


In the face of severe disruptions to the world’s supply chains caused by the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, Maersk has promised it will shoulder its responsibilities to ensure food is delivered around the world. 

In an open statement, ocean and logistics chief executive, Vincent Clerc, said, “At Maersk, we […] understand that we have a large responsibility, both for our people and for our partners. You have trusted us to care for a large part of your supply chain, and I wanted to reassure you that we are as committed today, as before to enable your business.” 

In terms of specific measures Maersk has adopted, Clerc said, “Our seafarers who transport your goods have stepped up and extended their time at sea, our office teams are all working remotely on laptops and are available via the usual phone numbers, web and mobile channels, ensuring both social distancing and business continuity. We have learnt from our Chinese colleagues who have kept the business running throughout the most severe of times and are pleased to share that all our operations are still in place to serve you.”

Port of Antwerp ready to take on Covid-19

The Port of Antwerp’s Covid-19 Taskforce, which consists of key players in the organisation of the port, has expressed its full commitment to keeping the country supplied. In a statement, the Taskforce said that it remained 100 per cent operational thanks to the daily efforts and commitment of all its employees. The taskforce has identified key aspects that needed attention and set up a port monitor to survey the daily operations.

“At the moment the port platform is operational and there are no insurmountable problems,” the port stated. Handling on the terminals is going ahead normally, there is sufficient manpower available to deal with cargo, and drivers are arriving and departing without too much delay.”

As of last weekend, the moment Port of Antwerp had not seen any decline in freight volume. However, it expected a drop in traffic at the port in the coming weeks as a result of the outbreak. For instance, 15 fewer large container carriers from Asia will call, equivalent to 115,000 TEU.

The port stressed the importance of keeping Europe’s borders open for all forms of freight transport. 

IATA calls on governments to support air cargo in fight against Covid-19 pandemic

On 16th March the International Air Transport Association (IATA) stressed the important role air freight will play to help countries fight the Covid-19 pandemic, calling on governments worldwide to take urgently measures steps to facilitate the movement of cargo by air. Over 185,000 passenger flights have been cancelled since the end of January. With the collapse of some passenger airlines and the parking of many planes, the available freight capacity has plummeted.

The IATA points out that air freight is being used for transporting food, essential medicines, medical equipment, spare parts and components for such equipment, as well as maintaining global supply chains for time-sensitive operations. The statement said: “The world’s fleet of freighter aircraft has been mobilised to make up [the] capacity shortfall. Governments must take urgent measures to ensure that vital supply lines remain open, efficient and effective.”

The steps that the IATA calls for include exempting the crew members of freighter aircraft, who do not encounter the public, from 14-day quarantine measures and exempting air cargo operations from Covid-19 travel restrictions.

Standardised measures should be implemented, to allow air freight to move globally with minimum disruption. Temporary traffic rights for cargo operations should be supported, in cases where restrictions apply. Economic impediments to air freight, such as parking fees, “slot” restrictions and overflight charges, should be removed during the crisis.

The increase in fruit and vegetable exports in the last two weeks as a consequence of the Covid-19 coronavirus crisis has caused many trucks originating in Spain to be outside our borders without a guaranteed return, at least with merchandise. Normally, these trucks return to the point of origin loaded with other types of products; however, the stoppage of productive activity in other European sectors is preventing this from happening.

“There is a significant shortage of returns,” sources from the J.Carrión company affirm in statements to the magazine MERCADOS, stating that “if the situation does not change in the short term, that shortage will increase”; and on this circumstance will depend the increase or not of the prices.

From the company based in Huércal de Almería (Almería) they insist that, “globally, transport is not going to become more expensive”, but they clarify that, currently, “there may be lines that are increasing in price due to the lack of returns , which causes the return of empty trucks ”. The other option is to return at a lower price than those who usually pay at destination to Spain and which, in this case, would have to be assumed by Spanish companies.

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Spain’s fresh produce sector steps up to the plate

Spain’s fresh produce sector steps up to the plate

The Spanish fruit and vegetable industry is playing a leading role in attenuating the impact of the Coronavirus outbreak. Across Europe, demand has been rocketing for certain products, and, according to Paco Borrás, chairman of the Export Committee at Freshfel and former commercial director of Anecoop, fruit and vegetable sales in Spain are considerably higher than normal – probably due to their renowned health benefits. To meet this demand, in the past two weeks, suppliers have been speeding up processes to be able to deliver up to 30% higher volumes; even so, this has still not been sufficient to last the entire day. Southern Spain’s growing regions have so far not been as affected as other parts of the country by the virus and have therefore been able to maintain a steady flow of supplies to the domestic market.

However, the restrictions on the movement of people are likely to jeopardise this state of affairs. While field and packhouse workers are still allowed to go to work, there are likely to be shortfalls in the workforce as family members fall sick or parents are required to stay home to look after children. Moreover, if the conditions worsen, packhouse employees may be reluctant to expose themselves to potentially becoming infected from colleagues.

Companies say that they are taking all the necessary precautions to minimise the risk of infection. These measures will involve greater costs in the operations. Also, exports to Asia have encountered logistical problems as have shipments to other parts of Europe, with delays at the borders of Italy, Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. This means fewer trucks available for deliveries within Spain. Combined with the likely drop-off in demand for fruits and vegetables in the next weeks, companies are going to have to bear a great deal of uncertainty and financial cost. 

Spain’s National Federation of Transport Associations (Fenadismer) calls for exporters to cover the direct and indirect costs of the empty return. The additional expenses just for of diesel for a 2,000 km trip can mean €1,000 more per truck. Spain has 130,000 vehicles dedicated to international transport, making a combined average of 150,000 weekly trips.

Borrás notes that the key role being played by the sector in this critical moment will no doubt be remembered society at large.



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Carrefour Statement – Opening hours

Carrefour Statement – Opening hours

Philippe PEGUILHAN – Country Manager of Carrefour UAE at Majid Al Futtaim Retail

March 23rd, 2020While shopping malls are closing in the UAE, all our stores remain open and fully stocked for customers, operating at our regular times.

We encourage all our valued customers to shop responsibly and be mindful of others. We have full confidence in our stock and supply chain and we continue to monitor stock levels to ensure we adequately cater to customer needs. We are also working closely with suppliers to ensure that essential products remain at reasonable prices so that our customers don’t experience an increase in their shopping bills.

In addition to full sanitation of the stores, Carrefour is adding measures to ensure social distancing and preserve the health of our customers and employees. This includes placing acrylic glass screens at checkout counters to reduce contact, and instructional signage to guide customers on the best social distancing practices.

Carrefour remains committed to offer customers the best and freshest food options at the best prices during the current challenges.

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2020 CPMA Convention and Trade Show Cancelled 

2020 CPMA Convention and Trade Show Cancelled 

March 20, 2020 (Ottawa, ON) – In light of the rapid escalation of safety precautions to decrease the transmission of COVID-19, and recommendations of municipal, provincial and federal governments regarding large gatherings, the CPMA Board of Directors and 2020 CPMA Convention and Trade Show Organizing Committee have made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 CPMA Convention and Trade Show. 
We appreciate that many preparations for the show are already underway, however the health and safety of CPMA members, Convention and Trade Show registrants and the general public is our paramount concern. 
During this unprecedented global situation, CPMA strongly encourages all businesses and individuals throughout the produce supply chain to consult our COVID-19 Updates page, to strictly adhere to government guidance and recommendations and to prioritize self-care above all else. CPMA continues to work on your behalf with government and partners across the supply chain in an effort to minimize business disruptions.  
Exhibitors, sponsors and attendees who have already paid will have the following options:  Carry forward booth purchases and sponsorships to the 2021 CPMA Convention and Trade Show in Vancouver, B.C., with 100% of payments to date being transferred to the 2021 CPMA Convention and Trade Show. We thank the many companies that have indicated they will be pushing their support to the 2021 event in Vancouver.  CPMA will also be offering 100% refunds on ticket sales, including Full Delegate passes, Trade Show only passes, Retail Tour, Chair’s Welcome Reception, Companion Program, After Party, and CPMA Annual Banquet.  CPMA is offering refunds of 80% to any exhibitors or sponsors wishing to cancel their participation in the 2020 CPMA Convention and Trade Show (fees, expenses and penalties have been incurred for advanced preparations that prevent CPMA from refunding the full amount). 
CPMA will be contacting exhibitors and registrants over the next few weeks to address their decisions in this matter. 
The CPMA Annual General Meeting (AGM), which is traditionally conducted as part of the Convention and Trade Show agenda, will be changed to a virtual meeting. Details on this event will be sent to members as soon as they are confirmed.  

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Citrus Estimate for the 2020 season

Citrus Estimate for the 2020 season

Southern Africa is expected to export a record 143.3 million cartons of citrus fruit to over 100 countries in 2020. This is a 13% increase when compared to 2019, which saw 126.7 million cartons being exported, generating R20 billion in export revenue and creating 120 000 jobs.

This increase should translate into more job opportunities, foreign exchange revenue and will contribute towards national government’s goal of increased agricultural exports over the next few years.

The growth is largely as a result of new orchards coming into production and good rains across some regions.

Valencia oranges make up the biggest portion of the citrus export market at 35%, followed by navel oranges (19%), lemons (18%), soft citrus (16%) and grapefruit (12%).

The soft citrus and lemon categories are expected to show the highest growth in 2020. Soft citrus will see an increase of 28%, with the Boland region contributing 12% more cartons than last year. Regions in the northern parts of the country, including the Burgersfort/Ohrigstad region, Senwes and Hoedspruit will also see exponential growth in their soft citrus outputs.

The Sunday’s River Valley, which exports almost half of the region’s lemons is expected to export 12 million cartons this year, an 18% increase from 2019.

While we are confident that the 2020 season will be a success, we are also aware that there are events beyond growers’ control that could impact final export numbers.

Most notably, the Coronavirus (Covid 2019) outbreak presents a new challenge to fresh produce exporters across the globe. It is encouraging that China’s logistics services are expected to be fully operational soon, with cargo volumes and ship calls having swiftly rebounded over the past two weeks.

However, the outbreak across the European Union, the largest export market for South Africa’s citrus, remains a concern and could still result in a decrease in demand and a shortfall of containers when the export season kicks off in May. It is therefore critical that exporters confirm that there are containers available before they start shipping,

Challenges at South Africa’s ports, including aging and out of service infrastructure as well as unresolved labour issues remain a threat to export volumes. However, the Citrus Growers’ Association is proactively engaging with Transnet and welcomes recent steps taken by the company to improve operations at a number of the ports. This includes the procurement of new equipment for both the Port Elizabeth and Durban ports, which is expected to arrive before the start of the export season.

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Strong Together: Vilnius meets coronavirus pandemic with solidarity

Strong Together: Vilnius meets coronavirus pandemic with solidarity

Coronavirus pandemic has brought Lithuania under quarantine. But volunteers of Vilnius, as well as multiple entrepreneurs and businesses have come together to help the doctors and people in risk groups, serving as an example of what a united city can do to help those in need.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, Lithuanian government has imposed quarantine – and people in the capital Vilnius reacted with solidarity and speed. In the first week of quarantine thousands of volunteers offered their help, entrepreneurs have raised large sums for medical equipment using just online messaging, and telecommunications companies provided resources to coordinate the joint effort. The ongoing efforts of Vilnius municipality to build a tech-savvy and focused community of citizens also proved to be crucial in the face of crisis.

The force that is uniting the biggest numbers of volunteers is the municipality-inspired group Gedimino Legionas (Gediminas Legion) that is raising and coordinating initiatives of direct support. The name of the group refers to Gediminas, who was one of the most important rulers of Lithuania, the founder of Vilnius in the 14th century and the symbol of its historical strength. Since then the city went through many challenges and crises, from fires and enemy onslaughts in the 16-18th centuries to Soviet occupation in the 20th century.

Gedimino Legionas was born last year, as an initiative to resist a potential hybrid war by “hunting down” fake news, applying one’s IT or language skills or any other personal abilities. While last year’s events were just a test, this time, in the face of the pandemic, the Legion is actually using everything it was built to do. Volunteers are joining into groups and are taking up any tasks that they can – such as taking care of senior citizens by helping them with shopping for food and medicine. Seniors are informed about the need to stay at home through different communication channels: posters, flyers and even drones.

Providing help to overloaded medical staff, volunteers of Gedimino Legionas are raising funds for protective equipment or respirators or volunteering to walk dogs of doctors and nurses. Gedimino Legionas constantly refreshes the information on what needs to be done. The legion has already attracted more than 3000 volunteers and this number grows every day.

It is not the only effort of volunteer coordination. Competing telecommunications providers Telia, Bitė and Tele2 have joined other businesses and public institutions in organizing the national volunteer coordination center Strong Together. Both volunteers and help-seekers can register through the website. Then the coordination team matches offers and requests, such as food aid to those who need it or being a courier with one’s own car.

When it comes to individual entrepreneurs and businesses, one of the first responders was serial entrepreneur Vladas Lašas, who offered to organize a hackathon  Hack the Crisis. This virtual hackathon is taking place in Vilnius this weekend. Participants of the three-day event will generate innovative solutions for healthcare, emergency response, economy and other spheres of life affected by quarantine. Volunteers from the Lithuanian government, corporates and startup community are helping to coordinate the activities.

Many businesses direct their efforts towards providing support for doctors and medical staff as healthcare institutions are experiencing overload and doctors lack surgical masks and equipment. In a matter of hours entrepreneurs raised around EUR 600,000 through online communication. Well-known journalists and the tech community joined the fundraising efforts using online messaging, social media posts and specially created websites. Fundraising efforts still continue and the funds are constantly increasing.

Larger businesses extended an offer of free internet services to all medical facilities, while real estate developers MG Baltic Group purchased and donated the much-needed lung ventilation equipment to Vilnius city medical facilities.

There are many more businesses that donate their products or adapt production lines to the new situation. Distilleries and chemical plants are using their lines to produce disinfectants. Popular restaurants are providing free food for medical staff, servicemen, volunteers and isolated people. Fashionable clothing designer Robertas Kalinkinas is producing substitute surgical masks for doctors lacking professional protective equipment.

All the initiatives of the Vilnius business community are impossible to list. New ideas are brought forward every day. The city demonstrates the same resistance to crisis that it has proved repeatedly throughout its history, and shows the world what a strong community can do in the face of crisis.

“I am very proud to see my city showing such unity and solidarity. I think it really shows the spirit of Vilnius,” said Remigijus Šimašius, the mayor of Vilnius. “We are the city of personalities. But in times of crisis we come together and support each other. That’s when we show our real force.”


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Covid-19 outbreak – Call to prevent further damage to the growing media sector & food supply chain

Covid-19 OUTBREAK - Call to prevent further damage to the growing media sector & food supply chain

In the current Covid-19 crisis, the European growing media sector is doing its outmost to ensure continuity of movements of goods that are vital to the food supply chain. Growing Media Europe urges political decision makers on European and national level to prevent as far as possible disruptions in the trade and movement of goods that are essential to public food supply.

The Covid-19 outbreak has already led to a shortage of trucks, containers and transport workers that hamper the flow of goods mainly due to national border controls and quarantine measures for truck drivers. Growing media are indispensable for big scale production of fresh vegetables, fruits, herbs and edible mushrooms as the majority of these crops start their life cycle as young plants in growing media. Interruptions leading to delays at cross border transport both inside the EU and for third country export are risking to leave vegetable nurseries in Europe and throughout the world unable to produce.

Ensuring timely supply of growing media to professional growers is crucial for providing EU citizens with healthy food throughout the Covid-19 crisis. Thus, they asked the responsible European and national authorities to include the following raw materials for growing media in the highest priority (“essential products”) category:

  • Peat (HS Code 2703 000)
  • Coir (HS Code 53050000)
  • Bark (HS Code 14049000)
  • Liming products such as chalk (HS Code 25174900)  
  • Compost (HS Code 0602901000)