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Cindy van Rijswick (Rabobank) gives her view on the international fruit market

"Continuous price focus will not be a fruitful strategy"

During the members meeting of the Comité Fruithandel of Frugi Venta, market analyst Cindy van Rijswick held a presentation on Rabobank's view on the fruit market. New export destinations, developments in the sales chain and competition ratios passed the revue. This was all according to the World Fruit Map (below), which the bank has published to chart the fruit and vegetable trade flows.

Van Rijswick started the presentation with an overview of the global fruit production. The large fruit varieties have been the same for years worldwide, the most important productions are bananas (16%), apples (12%), oranges (12%) and grapes (11%). The increase in production percentage of important fruits such as apples and oranges has been limited. The largest production increases in fruit in the last ten years have been realised by persimmons, bananas, mangoes, papayas and avocados.

Cindy van Rijswick

"Globally, China and India are the largest fruit producers, with 19% and and 12% respectively. The fruit production is increasing globally, but in Western Europe it is greatly shrinking. The fruit production is growing the strongest, relatively, in developing countries, but China and India are certainly making the largest increase," said the market analyst to the fruit traders present.

Van Rijswick showed that the Asian trade in fruit has increased spectacularly, but indicated that China's fruit import will likely increase due to a rise in the incomes and the limits of their own production. "The increasing costs and unfavourable exchange rates are affecting China's competition advantage. Up and coming markets offer chances, but volatility and complexity are big challenges for the trade."

"Over two thirds of all the available fruit and vegetables in the world are consumed in Asia. Despite the health trend, the consumption in Western Europe isn't growing. The consumption is mainly growing in Asia, Eastern Europa and Africa," continues Cindy. She showed by way of figures that the fruit consumption rises with the incomes. On the other side, the fruit consumption is put under extra pressure in countries which are still troubled by the crisis, such as the United Kingdom, where the fruit prices have increased by 34% in the last five years.

"Developments on the retail side are not just a barrier for suppliers, but also for the retail itself," determined the market analyst. "The continued focus on price will not be a fruitful strategy in the end for many chains. This is why retailers will have to come up with a new strategy. Many fruit and vegetable suppliers are already offering distinctive products or (ontzorgende) services. Buying fruit and vegetables is becoming more complex as the retailer wants to define themselves by more than just the price."

Van Rijswick named the 'Berries-shelf' in the United Kingdom as an example of success, in which an increase in sales of 100% was realised by a good chain collaboration. "The top fruit club varieties are very popular, but you have make sure you don't chase after the tomatoes with too many products. Suppliers will have to define themselves to assist the retailers. The conditions for the this are knowledge of the market, the growers' commitment and the flexibility to play into developments."

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