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Freshfel Europe calls on EU and Japan to build fresh produce trade

Interview with Philippe Binard, general secretary of Freshfel Europe

Philippe Binard © Freshfel Europe


Freshfel Europe is calling on EU and Japanese authorities to build fresh produce trade on the outcome of the new EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement. The European Commission hosted an online seminar on 19-20 April between the EU and Japan to facilitate discussions on how to boost trade for EU agriculture products on the Japanese market. The new EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement is now fully in force and it is the right moment to evaluate the state-of-play and future outlook of the agreement. Freshfel Europe voiced the views and expectations of the European fresh fruit and vegetables sector on the many pending dossiers and on missed opportunities to grow business within the new agreement. 

Despite the coming into force of the new EU-Japan Economic Agreement and the positive outlook resulting from the visit of Commissioner Hogan in Tokyo in May 2019, no significant progress has been made to new market access to Japan for the export of high quality EU fresh fruit and vegetables to the high value Japanese market of 127 million inhabitants. This was the key message of Freshfel Europe General Delegate Philippe Binard at the EU-Japan seminar entitled ‘How the EU ensures the highest quality for its agriculture export’. Binard said: “Despite all the efforts from the EU and more than 10 years of negotiations and clear interest for Japanese traders to import high quality, safe and sustainable fresh produce from the EU, too many applications for market access to the Japanese authorities have not been concluded yet.” 

Today EU exports of fresh produce to Japan total less than 10,000 tons, representing only a small percentage of the total 2.4m tons of imports into Japan from third countries. Binard said: “Multiple market access applications are pending ranging from Italian and Greek kiwifruit, Belgian pears and tomatoes, Portuguese and Hungarian cherries, and persimmons from Spain. Many other provisions of existing protocols also need to be revised to remove pre-clearance, broaden the scope of protocols to more varieties or substitute methyl-bromide treatment by more environmentally friendly systems approaches.” 

According to Freshfel, it is now time to deliver the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement and speed up negotiations to open new market opportunities. EU fresh produce represents a seal of quality, reliability and diversity for Japanese consumers. On the occasion of the UN International Year of Fruit and Vegetables 2021 authorities should prioritise fresh produce in their market access negotiations and urgently unlock pending hurdles. The EU fruit and vegetables sector exports to 140 destinations around the world based on international standards and strict EU regulatory environment. EU growers and exporters are demonstrating their expertise to handle high quality and safe produce, brining competitiveness and mastering logistic skills to access the most sophisticated markets. Binard concluded: “Under the new bilateral agreement, the momentum today should not be missed. The EU and Japan should work hard in the coming months to build trade on the new business environment of the Agreement and secure that Japanese trade and consumers can enjoy the high quality and safety of European fresh produce in their daily healthy diet.”

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Favourable prospects for EU agricultural sectors

Favourable prospects for EU agricultural sectors © European Commission
© European Commission


The European Commission’s first 2021 edition of the short-term outlook for EU agricultural markets concludes that the EU agricultural sector showed resilience throughout the Covid-19 crisis. The sector did relatively well thanks to increased retail sales and home consumption. In addition, prospects are favourable with a dynamic global demand and the reopening of food services (restaurants, bars, cafés) expected once the vaccination campaign is sufficiently advanced.

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GLOBALG.A.P. launched new GGN Label

GLOBALG.A.P. launched the GGN label © GLOBALG.A.P.


A cross-category consumer label to make responsible farming visible

Cologne, Germany (27 April 2021) – GLOBALG.A.P. c/o FoodPLUS GmbH launched its consumerfacing initiative, the GGN label, during an online event on 27 April. International stakeholders from the agriculture and retail sectors were invited to the unveiling event during which GLOBALG.A.P. experts presented the new GGN label. GLOBALG.A.P. also announced that the new GGN label can now be applied to fruit and vegetables as well. Unlike the previous GGN labels, which were specific to aquaculture and floriculture products, the new GGN label is a universal, cross-category label.

The GGN Label – “All in One”

Since consumers have one shopping list and are looking for consistent orientation across different product categories, GLOBALG.A.P. c/o FoodPLUS GmbH has decided to move from two scopespecific labels to one uniform label for all categories. The new GGN label stands for certified, responsible farming and transparency. Available for both packed and loose fresh products, the new label is available to producers, retailers, traders, packers and restaurant chains starting April 2021. 

“Transparency is at the heart of the GGN label. We help consumers to discover the roots of their products while helping the businesses who practice and support responsible farming showcase this. Together we’re taking transparency to the next level”, says Kristian Moeller, Managing Director at GLOBALG.A.P. c/o FoodPLUS GmbH.

The 5th Anniversary of the GGN Label

GLOBALG.A.P. c/o FoodPLUS GmbH introduced its consumer-facing initiative, the GGN label, five years ago. It was first launched in 2016 for aquaculture products, followed by floriculture products in 2017. Now in 2021, fruit and vegetables are also included. All products with the GGN label come from a farm whose production process has been independently certified according to international GLOBALG.A.P. standards or one of the standards that is recognized by GLOBALG.A.P. as equivalent. These standards are holistic in nature and cover food safety, sustainability, environmental protection, animal welfare, workers’ health and safety, and supply chain transparency. All these aspects of responsible farming come together under the GGN label, which provides transparency through unique 13-digit identification numbers that are linked to supply chain actors with GLOBALG.A.P. certification.

These GLOBALG.A.P. Numbers correspond with profiles on the GGN label portal (, allowing consumers to find the roots of their product. 576 farm profiles are already online. Click here to learn more about the GGN label.

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Sandi returns this spring as “the first taste of summer”

Sandi returns this spring as "the first taste of summer"
Press Release

COEXPHAL and HORTIESPAÑA resume their campaign to promote the watermelon of southern Spain. Harvesting is underway of the first European watermelon grown in greenhouses in the southeast of Spain, destined for markets in Spain and Europe. To publicise the fruit’s healthy properties and excellent quality, COEXPHAL and HORTIESPAÑA are starting the promotion campaign, mainly through digital media, under the slogan “The first European watermelon”, to disseminate its health and organoleptic qualities.

New this year is a specially designed web page ( offering information on the fruit’s nutritional qualities and the main production and marketing figures, together with endorsements by “Ambassadors”, people from politics, culture or sports and renowned chefs, who will also prepare some recipes with the unique fruit.

Sandi is the character who gives visibility and prominence to the watermelon in all communications and posts on social networks, and will this year feature the slogan “The Taste of Summer” and the hashtag # LaPrimeraSandíaEuropa

Once again, collaboration has come from “Sabores de Almería” from the Almería Provincial government. The president of the institution, Javier A. García, the president of Hortiespaña, Francisco Góngora, and the manager of COEXPHAL, Luis Miguel Fernández, have sent watermelons as gifts to people from Almeria’s and Spain’s cultural and social scene to taste the watermelons from the southern greenhouses and get to know the campaign at first-hand.

During the past campaign, more than 100 million watermelons from Almería and Granada reached European consumers and 597,010 tons of watermelons were produced under greenhouses in southern Spain, which represents half of Spanish production. Spain is the world’s leading watermelon exporter, with 911,366 tons.

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Philippines bananas being squeezed out of Chinese market

Philippines bananas being squeezed out of Chinese market © Marlith (Creative Commons)

© Marlith (Creative Commons)


The Philippines Banana Planter and Exporter Association (PBGEA) has announced that profits in banana exports fell by 15% due to the outbreak of Covid-19, which increased shipping costs and delayed transport, reports Business Mirror.

Shipping costs increased by 15%-20% last year, and the transport period increased from an average of 25 days to an average of 30-33 days. The main reason for this delay in transport is the spillover effect from backlogs in Chinese and Singaporean ports in late 2020. Backlogs in one port mean that supply ships miss their rendezvous, which leads to further delays.

The Philippines suffers more from distribution problems in comparison with countries like Vietnam and Cambodia that are closer to the Chinese market. That is why Vietnamese and Cambodian bananas gradually push bananas from the Philippines out of the Chinese market. Last year almost 90% of the Chinese import bananas came from the Philippines, while only 10% came from Vietnam and Cambodia. This year almost 40% of the Chinese import bananas come from Vietnam and Cambodia.

Banana exports declined by 51% in January to 186,000 tons of bananas, while the export value dropped by 47% to US$85 million. Japan is still the largest export market for bananas from the Philippines in terms of export value, but China is the largest market in terms of volume. The income from banana export slumped 20.6% in 2020 to US$1.55 billion.

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Kiwis grow increasingly fond of persimmon

New Zealanders grow increasingly fond of persimmon © PxHere

© PxHere


New Zealanders are developing a taste for persimmons, a fruit previously mainly destined for export, especially Japan, reports Asiafruit. Ian Turk, manager of the New Zealand Persimmon Industry Council, said: “We’re excited to have seen an increase of 20 per cent in just two years in the New Zealand market.”

Around 12,500 tons of New Zealand-grown persimmons are exported each year. Estimated to be worth NZ$10m, exports will reach Australia, South-East Asia, Japan, the US and China in 2021.

“We’ve had an excellent season this year and are recovering well from the impact of a tough 2020 season,” said Turk. “The combined issues of a Covid-19 lockdown two weeks before harvest, lengthy drought conditions and air freight costs that quadrupled due to the pandemic meant some significant challenges. We’re heading into the 2021 season with greater confidence – not quite back to normal, but nearly there.”

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20% higher sales of Zespri’s New Zealand kiwis forecast in Europe

20% higher sales of Zespri’s New Zealand kiwis forecast in Europe © Zespri

© Zespri


Zespri expects a record season for sales of New Zealand-grown kiwifruit, the first batches of which landed in Europe at the Port of Zeebrugge, Netherlands, on 18th April. The 7,000-pallet consignment of SunGold is aboard MV Cool Eagle, a new specialised reefer vessel built by Cool Carriers and the largest vessel to carry Zespri kiwifruit to date, reports Eurofruit. The first green kiwi should arrive in May.

Giorgio Comino, Zespri’s executive officer Europe and North America, said MV Cool Eagle is the first of five planned charter reefer vessels to Northern Europe under Zespri’s shipping programme this season. “There’s been good pollination and rainfall after pollination this season, which has helped with fruit sizing and it’s looking like another great-tasting crop. This season we’re expecting to supply nearly 20% more Zespri SunGold kiwifruit to Europe, reflecting the continued growth in demand for the variety, and around the same level of green as last season.”

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Matchmaking service for fresh fruit and vegetables

Matchmaking service for fresh fruit and vegetables © IPD


Import Promotion Desk will hold a IPD Virtual B2B Event Fresh Produce on the 10-28 May 2021. It also opens up new procurement markets for European buyers: mangos, papayas, pomegranates and avocados as well as ginger, turmeric, sweet potatoes and fresh herbs – these are just a few examples from the wide range of products offered by Import Promotion Desk (IPD). Due to the cancellation of the Fruit Logistica Special Edition, the Import Promotion Desk (IPD) – the initiative for import promotion – decided at short notice to present the diverse range of fresh fruits and vegetables from developing and emerging countries to European importers in individual video meetings.

Traders will have the opportunity to meet companies and get to know products from Colombia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ecuador, Ghana, Peru and Ukraine. IPD’s free matchmaking services are open to all European importers: IPD experts match buyers from Europe with producers from developing and emerging countries.

Free Import Promotion Desk service

As an import promotion initiative, IPD supports importers in their sourcing, neutrally and free of charge. IPD connects them to selected producers of fresh fruit and vegetables who meet the GLOBALG.A.P. standards or the requirements of the EU organic label. The IPD companies are visited and carefully evaluated. In addition to certifications, IPD experts also consider criteria such as product quality, export capability and capacity. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, IPD experts are in close contact with producers in partner countries and continue to screen exporters. This way, importers can be sure that they are dealing with reliable producers.

Virtual B2B Event Fresh Produce

In the context of the IPD virtual B2B event, IPD will present more than 30 carefully selected  companies. European importers will find, for example, mangoes, papayas and pineapples from producers in Ghana. Or grapes, oranges, lemons, strawberries and fresh herbs, spinach, peppers and garlic offered by suppliers from Egypt and Ethiopia.

The range of subtropical and tropical fruits is enriched by exhibitors from Ecuador, Colombia and Peru, such as passion fruit, pitahayas, bananas, physalis as well as avocados. In addition, companies from Peru offer sweet potato as well as fresh ginger and turmeric in organic quality. Producers from Ukraine present sweet potatoes, Hokkaido pumpkin, plums, peaches or blueberries.

A detailed overview of the companies and all products importers will find in the IPD company brochure here.

The participation in the IPD event is free of charge. Importers just have to follow these  steps:

  1. Get information about the IPD-approved companies in the IPD event brochure.
  2. Contact IPD Expert Sourcing + Markets Daniel Oppermann to arrange appointments.
  3. Meet the approved suppliers in individual online meetings. 
For more information contact: 
Daniel Oppermann
Expert Sourcing + Markets
T +49 (0) 30 590 099 575
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Impressive growth of Peru’s organic blueberries

Impressive growth of Peru’s organic blueberries © PROARANDANOS


Exports of Peru’s organic blueberries recorded strong growth in value and volume in 2020. Susana Yturry of ADEX said that despite only having 3.7% of the fresh fruit market, Peru’s organic blueberries have great potential. Overall, blueberries account for 26% of the country’s fresh fruit exports. Yturry added that the value of organic blueberry exports grew by 40 times in 2020 compared to 2019, reaching US$31 million. In volume terms, shipments of organic blueberries rose from 135 tons to 4,000 tons in just one year. In value terms, the growth was even more impressive, with strong prices that cast a shadow on the falling prices of conventional blueberries in recent times. In 2020, the average price of organic fresh blueberry exports was US$9.62/kg, while the average price of conventional blueberries was US$6.24.

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New figures at top of Driscoll’s

New figures at top of Driscoll’s, Giannella Alvarez and Graciela Monteagudo

Berry specialist Driscoll’s has appointed two new members to its Board of Directors: Giannella Alvarez, former CEO and director of the board at Beanitos, and Graciela Monteagudo, the former President and CEO of LALA U.S.

The new board appointments collectively bring strong brand growth expertise and a clear future-looking vision, the company said in a statement. Alvarez brings to the Driscoll’s board 35-years of experience across a wide range of industries in the U.S., Latin  America, and Europe, having led multi-billion-dollar brands for Fortune 100 companies including Procter & Gamble and The Coca-Cola Company in senior executive positions.

She served as Group President and CEO for Barilla Americas, a Division of Barilla S.p.A., as well as President and CEO of organic food start-ups, including Harmless Harvest Inc.

Named one of 2019’s Most Influential Corporate Board Directors by Women Inc., Alvarez is also an experienced public company board director.

She brings deep expertise in marketing, innovation, business scaling and global expansion as well as a passion for food, health and wellness, sustainability and equality, with her experience as an Advisory Board Member of New York University’s Stern School Center for Sustainable Business.

“Giannella is a highly creative and decisive leader who has a proven track record of talent building and energizing organizations across countries, customers and channels,” said J. Miles Reiter, Driscoll’s chairman and CEO. “Her significant on-the-ground international experiences will serve as an invaluable asset as Driscoll’s continues to grow and adapt to the ever-changing marketplace.”

Monteagudo built her 30-year executive career at multinational Fortune 500 companies across the consumer products, healthcare and retail industries. She has significant experience in general management roles, previously leading multi-billion-dollar corporations including SVP and Business Unit Head for Sam’s Club in Mexico, and President, Americas and Global Marketing for Mead Johnson Nutrition Americas.

She most recently served as CEO and President of LALA U.S. a leading Hispanic dairy company owned by Grupo LALA.