On 26 May delegations from Freshfel Europe and CIQA met virtually to exchange expertise on a number of issues of common concern. Topics covered included lessons learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic for fresh produce business, the development of e-commerce and online sales on both sides and the move towards sustainability. The two Associations are due to sign a Memorandum of Understanding in the coming weeks to further foster the collaboration and mutual exchange of best practices between the Associations to boost the fruit and vegetables category in both Europe and China.
Freshfel Europe and CIQA re-launched their cooperation in an online meeting on 26 May after two years of interruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. CIQA Vice-President Mr Duan Xiahong and Freshfel Europe President Mr Stephan Weist welcomed this opportunity of a new encounter to learn from each other. Mr Duan Xiahong stated, “We have set an agenda to exchange on emerging important matters such as the impact of COVID-19, the development of e-commerce and the implementation of sustainability concepts to cope with evolving regulatory and societal concerns”. Mr Weist shared the same interest adding, “Trade between China and Europe slowed down during the pandemic, after peaking in 2019 at 200.000 T of export from China to the EU (grapefruit, pears, garlic and onions) and 65.000 T of export from the EU to China (oranges, pears and kiwifruit). As the pandemic is ending more opportunities might arise, building on the new sustainability move, online sales opportunities and in regard to logistics the Silk Road Train alternative.”
Both Associations presented the key features of their actions during the COVID-19 pandemic, the stage of e-commerce development and their perspectives and engagement on sustainability. In regard to the impact of the pandemic, responses from both sides were similar, addressing the changing trade environment and capitalizing on stimulating consumption towards healthier lifestyles and better nutrition with fresh produce. The e-commerce development demonstrated the significant advance of China in online sales to consumers driven by giant online retailers, while Europe is still witnessing quite different and fragmented models at national level. It was agreed to further explore collaboration with CIQA on this matter for the benefit of Freshfel Europe members. The two Associations also exchanged on practices and new approaches towards sustainability and agreed to continue collaborating on this important topic to gain expertise from each other.
Freshfel Europe Director Trade Policy & Business Development Nelli Hajdu was thanked for her work in organizing the successful event, which was much appreciated by all the 40 participants. Ms Hajdu will finalize with CIQA the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding to further boost the cooperation between CIQA and Freshfel Europe.
While concluding the meeting, Philippe Binard, Freshfel Europe General Delegate, echoed the words of Professor Guo Lisheng, CIQA Secretary General: “We are pleased with the very positive outcome of these three hours on in-depth exchange. The cooperation should contribute in the coming weeks to get a fresh business start for our sector after the pandemic”. He added “The International Year of Fruit and Vegetables 2021 offers many opportunities to build a stronger position for fruit and vegetable production, trade and retail based on the business insight from Europe and China.”