David Clarinval, Belgium's Minister of Agriculture, recently visited the fruit and vegetable cooperative, BelOrta. That was along with Maltese Minister of Agriculture Anton Refalo. They are part of the European Agriculture Council. The two men discussed topics like sustainable cultivation and innovative packaging solutions.
BelOrta has more than 1,000 local fruit and vegetable producers under its wing. Together they grow more than 500,000 tons of fresh fruits and vegetables annually. That's divided into more than 170, both conventional and organic, products. The ministers and a BelOrta delegation talked about several things. These included cooperative entrepreneurship and cooperatives' (social) role. As well as how the farmers have faced the global pandemic together.
All these fresh fruits and vegetables are distributed to more than 75 countries. That's thanks to a unique auctioning system and extensive client network. BelOrta is strongly committed to research and development. In this, sustainable cultivation and entrepreneurship are highly valued, as is innovation and flavor. All this while looking to a future-oriented local horticultural sector.
During the visit, the parties paid attention to things like the fresh fruit and vegetable assortment. The highly topical subject of packaging was also discussed. Many new, innovative packaging solutions were discussed. The recently introduced tray2tray strawberry punnet was one of the packaging options looked at. This is a fully circular concept. In it, packaging is no longer part of the problem.
At the end of the visit, both ministers held a minute of silence. That was as a part of Belgium's Day of Mourning to remember the victims of the recent floods.
“We're proud of the beautiful, healthy, fresh fruit and vegetables our local growers produce," says Minister Clarinval. "There are many efforts around research into varieties, cultivation techniques, and flavor. But also regarding packaging and logistics. So, we can count ourselves among the world leaders in this segment."
"The supply of many individual growers is bundled. They're then attractive to the market. That's thanks to cooperatives like BelOrta. Moreover, BelOrta tries to find solutions for all qualities. The market, therefore, values any by-products too. This is important in the context of avoiding food waste. But also so growers can develop further in a future-oriented manner."