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NFO and GroentenFruit Huis

“Fruit chain happy with opening of Mexican border for Dutch pears”

The Mexican border for the import of Dutch pears has recently opened. Specific agreements have been made between both countries about the conditions under which the pears may be imported from the Netherlands. The NFO (the Dutch Fruit growers association) and sales organisation GroentenFruit Huis speak of an important breakthrough, which can be read at Agroberichten Buitenland.

Negotiations with Mexico mostly concerned phytosanitary import conditions. The talks lasted approximately three years. Similar negotiations with Chinese authorities about market access for Dutch fruit took more than seven years; for Vietnam it was less than a year.

Russian boycott
By now, pears have become the Dutch fruit cultivation’s main product, with a production share of more than 50 per cent. Considering the size of demand in the Netherlands itself, about three-quarters of the pears have to be sold abroad. After the Russian sales market was lost in 2014, the authorities involved quickly went looking for new markets, including Mexico.

Broadening sales strategy
NFO chairperson Michiel Gerritsen is enthusiastic about the opening of the Mexican border, although he isn’t expecting miracles. “Mexico could never replace Russia. Until 2014, about a third of the Dutch pears was sent to Russia. I think it’s more important that another sales country is found after, for example, India, China and Vietnam. The Russian boycott forces the Dutch fruit chain to broaden its sales strategy. And that is actively responded to, the opening of the Mexican border is one of the results of that.”

Treatment pears for export
According to the agreed protocol, Dutch pears may only cross the Mexican border when the fruit has had so-called cold treatment. Treatment with fungicides is also required after harvesting. Inge Ribbens from GroentenFruit Huis – she was closely involved with the negotiations – talks about costly measures growers might be hesitant about. “This year is a trial year. Whether the protocol is feasible in practice remains to be seen. But I feel optimistic about it.”

Promotion in Mexico
According to Gerritsen from NFO, the harvest prognosis doesn’t indicate a very large production in Europe this year. He therefore doesn’t expect a considerable effort from sales organisations on the Mexican market in the short term. “Promotion doesn’t happen overnight, for that matter. The border opening doesn’t mean automatic sales. My urgent advice to exporters is to work together when entering the Mexican market. Make a combined fist.”

Ongoing negotiations
GroentenFruit Huis is currently researching whether there’s support among sales organisations to request subsidies from the European Union for promotional activities in countries that have opened for Dutch fruit. At present, negotiations about the export of apples and pears to countries including South Africa, Thailand, Myanmar, Colombia and China are ongoing. NFO and GroentenFruit Huis are also closely involved in these negotiations.

Source: Agroberichten Buitenland/NFO

Publication date: 9/12/2017


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