July 2013: Nelson Mandela International day, anniversaries and international cooperation

With the death of Nelson Mandela this month, we are reminded that he would have had a birthday on the 18th of July. Last year, in honour of his 95th birthday, South Africa Summer Citrus joined with the United Nations and the South African Consulate General of New York to celebrate Nelson Mandela International Day.

(Left to Right) Miles Fraser-Jones of AMC, Lebogang Mokwena, Consul, Political, Gerard Stone, Director of Western Cape Citrus Producers Forum, George Monyemangene, South African Consulate General, and Piet Smit, Director of Western Cape Citrus Producers Forum formed a brigade like line to offload fruit for The Bowery Mission in a symbol of multi-national and multi-racial unity against hunger.

Along with promoting national peace, South Africa and Europe were busy strengthening their relations back in July. South Africa was keen to strengthen ties with the EU and the EU also seemed quite willing to cooperate as there were talks about the possibility of relaxing of CBS restrictions. However, this interest in market expansion wasn't just limited to the EU, SA was also keen to expand market access for citrus in BRICS countries.

There had been a shortage in the Northern Hemisphere leading up to July due to the unusually cold spring weather and a late start to the summer. The cold weather impacted Europe the most and it was reported that the blueberry harvest was almost a month behind schedule. Despite having experienced hardships, Keith Butterworth from Worldwide Fruit, felt that everything was on track for positive top fruit season. On the bright side, lower production in Europe meant opportunities for Argentinian fruit in Europe.

To continue with the theme of cooperation, Australian and the US were in the news quite a bit regarding import between the two countries. Imported US stone fruit was available for the first time in Australia. Along with that, Californian table grapes got the green light for Western Australia in July. Graham Morgan, from Bullfrog International, felt it was good for consumers and producers alike, to fill in the gap in an otherwise slow period. He felt that there was nothing to fear from US grapes. In turn, Seald Sweet announced that they were planning to import Australian Summer Citrus to the port of Long Beach, CA, beginning in the first week of August.

Some big company names were in the news back in July. Dole announced that it was planning to invest $20 million in Chile this year, which included the construction of three new fruit processing plants, one of which will be located in the commune of Coquimbo and that would require an investment of close to US$3 million. The Valencian Growers Association (AVA-Asaja) and the Protected Plant Varieties Club (CVVP) resolved an ongoing conflict with growers after allegations that they had been setting restrictions on the distribution channels of the Nadorcott mandarin, as well as for forcing producers and traders of this variety to carry out formal procedures which are "not necessary to secure the rights which these large firms have as licensees."

From right to left: Mart Valstar, Bep Valstar, Ful Valstar, Kees Valstar

Finally, it is only fitting that we conclude this years month of July as we started it, with a big celebration. The Best Fresh Group in the Netherlands celebrated their 85th anniversary! The company marked the occasion releasing a unique collection of recipes Best Fresh Group shares 85 years of fresh produce with all employees and business partners.

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