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November 2014

China steals the spotlight

The month of November 2014 was a great month for trade with China. One of our editors was present at the FVF and the iFresh event in China where many future international business agreements were no doubt being forged. We were also running articles almost daily about countries opening up trade with the country. This was partially due to President's Xi's visit to Australia which was tipped to open many business doors. This visit was concluded with the confirmation that Prime Minister Tony Abbott today confirmed the decade-long FTA process had been concluded following his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Canberra on the 17th of November. According to National Farmers' Federation (NFF) president Brent Finlay, said that "The Australia-China Free Trade Agreement (FTA) represents a 'cracking agreement' that surpasses expectations for tariff reductions on four key farm exports."

Not to be left out, many other countries also felt the benefits of doing trade with China. For those who were still working on agreements such as Poland, who launched a bid to supply apples to China at the China Fruit and Vegetable Fair. Mexico is also set to reap the rewards entering the red dragon as the Ministry of Rural Development (Seder) put out statistics showing that the berries sector is set to grow dramatically thanks to China. Peruvian citrus and avocados are also set to enter the Chinese market in March 2015. The first batch of Dutch Conference-pears arrived in China later in the month after six years of preparation and negotiation within the fruit sector. After the opening of the Chinese market, orders at Fruitmasters Geldermalsen were immediately placed.

It wasn't just China and Australian making big deals, as November also saw New Zealand complete an FTA with South Korea. "The FTA will put New Zealand exporters back on a level playing field with competitors from Korea's other FTA partners, such as the United States, Chile and the European Union," said New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key in a statement. Duties on New Zealand's current exports will largely be eliminated within 15 years of entry into force, according to the government.

Mehadrin also announced that it had loaded the first big vessel with Sweeties to Japan and South Korea. Although the rain had not been very helpful in the days leading up to the shipment, causing delays in the Sweetie harvest.

As usual, weather kept growers on their toes in November with the US getting a blast of wintry weather. This left Northwest apple farmers scrambling to save the last of their fruit. On the other side of the world, a devastating hailstorm destroyed apple and kiwifruit crops in Tasman district, wiping out orchard incomes, where staff were very swiftly being laid off. Grower Rod Fry described it as "the worst in living memory". On the bright side for Canadian growers, it was reported that the harsh winter in 2013 led to premium greenhouse peppers this season. “The winter has kept the lakes cooler than usual contributing to a very moderate summer,” reflects George Gilvesy general manager of Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers, “The crop maintained a high level of standard.”

Along with the weather, Northwest apple growers were facing a Port dispute which slowed apple exports. The large apple crop in Washington meant that the state's growers had been looking to export a big portion of their crop this season. But a labour dispute between port operators and longshoreman has slowed the handling of containers through the ports, and could potentially lead to supply gaps for countries in Central America, South America and Asia, where Washington fruit is sent this time of year.

It was good news in November
when it was announced, at the Interpoma trade fair, that the South Tyrol associations VOG and VI.P, in collaboration with the marketing organization and owner of the brand rights ENZA, would unveil the innovative new envy® apple, which was originally born in New Zealand. This is the first time that the NZ envy® apple will be harvested in South Tyrol

There were many other firsts such as the first South African grapes which were packed in the second week of the month. It was also announced that the first European Zespri SunGold were on shelves this year. The European kiwifruit season starts mid-November. At the moment, Italian and French kiwifruit growers are still busy picking on the various kiwi plantations. After a very successful New Zealand season, partly thanks to the new Zespri SunGold, the European season also promises to be good this year.

The United States also received the announcement that the Obama plan may allow millions of immigrants to stay and work in U.S. This meant a broad overhaul of the nation’s immigration enforcement system that will protect up to five million unauthorized immigrants from the threat of deportation and provide many of them with work permits, according to administration officials who have direct knowledge of the plan.

November has been known as 'movember' the last couple of years and the SUNSET® Kumato™ seems to fit in nicely with this movement. It was also quite appropriate that the tomato be named Best Tomato for Men. In its November issue, Men’s Health Magazine published their picks for the top 100 Best Foods for Men. The list includes healthy, flavourful, and easy to prepare products that were all taste-tested by the team at Men’s Health. SUNSET® Kumato™ tomatoes were selected for their sweet and tangy flavour, non-GMO verification, and because they can be enjoyed on their own or in a variety of dishes.