Looking for allies in Europe

MEP, Jan Huitema, visits Nature's Pride

Elections for the European Parliament take place on Thursday, 23 May. In this context, the Dutch association, GroentenFruit Huis, organized several working visits. This was done to once again highlight their members' interests among candidate European Parliament members.

On Thursday, 16 May, MEP, Jan Huitema, visited the Dutch company, Nature's Pride. Jan is a member of the Dutch political party, the VVD. During the visit, the increasingly stringent plant health requirements for the international trade in fruit and vegetables was discussed.

Huitema is well aware of the problems facing the Dutch fruit and vegetable sector. These issues are in the area of the increasingly strict phytosanitary demands in this sector. Among other things, he handled the Plant Health dossier as rapporteur in the European Parliament.

Huitema indicated that it is essential to find allies within Europe. They must have the same interests as the Netherlands. This is necessary because the Netherlands is a small player in the European Union. This is true, despite the country's major import interests.

Making innovations possible
This MEP also recognizes the importance of innovation in the sector. He sees the possibilities of using European funds for this too. This money will come from the Horizon 2020 European subsidy scheme. He cites the innovations in the area of Blockchain as an example.

"It is not only important to make innovations possible for multinationals. It is also especially important for small to medium businesses too. Protecting companies' private information is a focal point of Blockchain application. This kind of innovation can surely contribute to increased transparency within the chain," he says.

Preventing import stops
Fred van Heyningen is Nature's Pride CEO. Rogier Rook is responsible for logistics at this company. They took a lot of time bringing Huitema up to speed about the obstacles they face in their day-to-day work. They did this using a bowl of mangos, avocados, pitahayas, and oranges.

These are all products that are imported from overseas. The regulations around plant health for these products are also becoming tougher and tougher. "We are moving ever-closer to a specific policy. Countries must prove that products they want to export come from areas that are free of certain pests and insects," says Rogier.

"That certainly makes it increasingly difficult for some African countries to export their goods. This is at odds with the European Commission's Agricultural Department's desire to help Africa develop. Exporting products can contribute greatly to this. Thanks to the efforts of, among others, GroentenFruit Huis, we have been able to prevent an import stop on more than one occasion."

Ripening under way
Van Heyningen adds that innovations in the area of product protection are also on the rise. Products are protected by extracting fruit and vegetables. This considerably increases these products' shelf life. This technique was first implemented in California in the US. Avocados shelf life was increased from seven to 14 days using this method.

Tests with ripening products in containers, while they are underway, have also been conducted. This technique is not yet a reality, but according to experts, this is just a matter of time.

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