The Working Group for the Internationalization of Fruits and Vegetables, formed by the heads of the Spanish Ministries of Industry, Commerce and Tourism and of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, as well as representatives of the sector organizations representing the fruit and vegetable exporting sector, including FEPEX, has put the focus on 17 of the more than 35 open files for the opening of new export markets for fruit and vegetable products. These markets belong to countries on several continents, including Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Peru, Chile, the United States, India, Japan, China, Thailand, Vietnam and South Africa, which would receive products such as peaches, plums, apples, pears, strawberries, cherries, citrus fruits, kakis, garlic, onions and tomatoes.
The process of opening the market of a third country requires the sector to identify product-country pairs with priority commercial interest, and then report them to the competent administrations within the framework of the Fruit and Vegetable Group. These can then start the formal processing together with the third country. Thus, there are several open files for each country. In the case of Canada, work is underway on the protocols for tomatoes, strawberries and cherries. In the case of the United States, the focus is on cherries, stone fruit and pears and apples. In the case of China, as in other Asian countries such as Japan, Thailand or Vietnam, there is great interest on the part of the Spanish sector; however, their administrations have not yet allowed the processing of several protocols simultaneously.
In 2018, exports to countries that require phytosanitary protocols in the Americas amounted to 204,763 tons; up 47% compared to 2013. Meanwhile, shipments to Asia totaled 170,051 tons. In the case of Africa, exports stood at 130,034 tons. Despite the growth observed, the volume of fresh fruits and vegetables exported to this group of countries represents less than 3% of the total, with phytosanitary protocols being the main barrier to access these markets.