This week during the Freshfel Meeting Philippe Binard from Freshfel talked about the activities and priorities of Freshfel for the fruit and vegetable sector. "A part of this is the mutual trade going on between member states. The biggest exporters within Europe are Spain, the Netherlands and Italy. The biggest importers of products from other EU member states are Germany, France and the United Kingdom."
In 2013 the volume amount exported outside the EU was 5.86 million tons with a retail value of 5.16 billion Euro. 65% of this was fruit and 35% was vegetables. "In 2013 the biggest customers were Russia, Switzerland and Belarus. Due to the fact that we can no longer export to Russia, we will have to start looking for other options."
The areas in which Freshfel is active
Binard said that Freshfel is active in many different areas. "We have a wide range of different activities, from food safety to health to trade and consumer trends, just to name a few. We do a lot in the Food-and Plant Safety realm. We are still analysing the consequences of EHEC, we are active with Vegi Trade and fighting against food waste. We are also active in the organic food area."
Markets and Trade
In the area of international trade and access to the market, there are a lot of things that need to be dealt with. On the import side there is a lack of attractiveness from the European market. On the export side it is important to keep in mind the consequences of the Russian embargo, and to focus on new (and different) markets, including the U.S. and Canada."
"Europe has a large share in the Russian fruit and vegetable import. In 2011 the EU imported 23% of all Russia's imported fruits and vegetables. In 2012 that was 27% and in 2013, 26%. Within the European countries Poland imports the greatest volume to Russia. After that comes Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium and Greece. The most important months for the EU in regards to importing to Russia are from October to April. After April the volume imported to Russia slowly falls (numbers from 2013)." Export to Russia per month (2013)
Freshfel had a meeting in Moscow recently, and it was concluded that the EU is an important trading partner for quality fruits and vegetables for Russia. "European and Russian traders had built up a good relationship with each other. For a long time Europe was the number one supplier of fresh fruits and vegetables to Russia. The diversity of our products is very large and replacing these products is not a simple process. We also meet Russia's high phyto-sanitary demands. It is clear now that we do not know how long the Russian embargo will last and we wonder what will be different after the embargo is over."Russia imported more than a quarter of their fruits and vegetables from Europe
But we have to keep going
It is important to take measures at this point. Of course we have to look at new chances in the market and keep diversifying. Internally we must stimulate sales and consumption of fruits and vegetables. With that we can also look at chances in new segments. A SWOT will be made for the food service and wholesale markets. Hopefully in 2020 consumption will be at a much higher level. We are very happy with the support we have received from the sector and we thank our members."