The search for new export destinations for Belgian fruit has been one of this European country's fruit sector's top priorities. This is after the loss of the Russian market. They have since gained access to various other markets such as the Canadian, Brazilian, and Indian markets. Now it is Vietnam's turn. This country is opening its market of 96 million consumers to Belgian apples.
In recent years, the Federation of Belgian Horticultural Cooperatives (VBT) has been doing everything in its power to create the right market access for Belgian fruit in new markets. They have been doing so together with the Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain. This is no easy task. They have to take into account the specific regulations of the country that wants to receive Belgian fruit.
In concrete terms, this means clear agreements must be made between the exporting and importing countries. But, it goes beyond this. In the case of the Vietnamese access, the product organizations and interested producers' orchards were visited by a delegation from Vietnam. The carried out a control visit.
For the 2018-2019 sales year, 350 ha of pears will come into consideration for export to Vietnam. This corresponds with the maximum potential of 10 million kg. For apples, 40 ha has been accepted for export to Vietnam. This also has a maximum potential of 1,2 million kg.
Mid-October brought good news. Vietnam indicated that are willing to import Belgian apples. This is again a first, albeit small step toward the opening of new markets. Last year, the VBT received news that Belgian pears would be allowed access to the 96-million strong Vietnamese market. The first containers of this fruit have since been shipped there.
Belgium's fruit and vegetable sector is not only making an effort to find new export markets. They also continue to invest heavily into promoting Belgian fruit on the local market. The Flanders’ Agricultural Marketing Board (VLAM) provides a budget of €1 057 598 for this. A €1 243 453 marketing budget is available for the promotions on the internal European market.
A further €1 823 918 has been invested for the development of the countries where the VBT has created market access. This is absolutely essential. Markets in all the new export destinations still need to be adequately developed.
It is clear to everyone that the Belgian fruit sector is struggling again. If the tide is to be turned, extra effort must be made by the various players in the sector. In the past, the fruit sector has proved to be very resilient in the face of crises. The VBT has faith in this now too. They believe there will always be a market for products with a guaranteed high quality - products such as Belgian apples and pears.
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