Fruit Logistica 2024 is done and dusted. Three days of networking, walking around and, in our case, taking pictures, has come to an end. Exhibitors were generally positive. Protests and strikes in and around Berlin certainly did not make traveling any easier, but people still managed to find their way to the exhibition hall, which filled up over the days. "Fruit Logistica remains the best event to meet customers" was a frequently heard response among participants. Below is the link to the photo reports of the Dutch and Belgian fruit and vegetable companies. The international photo reports will follow tomorrow.

Click here for the International photo report of Fruit Logistica

Fruit Logistica still attracts many Dutch visitors and exhibitors. "You meet many suppliers, but for clients, being in Berlin is a must," one exhibitor says. The Holland Fresh Group celebrated its 25th participation year. There was much to discuss, from the inadequate availability of many imported fruits, exotics and open-field vegetables to the flourishing pear exports and the impact of delayed supplies from Asia due to the Red Sea crisis. The effect of the war in Israel seems to vary greatly by product group. In addition to several variety introductions, Limgroup's first strawberry variety raised from seed attracted interest. And Fresh Forward's Wurtwinning branded its apple variety, Bloss at the trade show.

European farmers protests
The Belgian participants, most of whom were, as usual, part of the Belgian pavilion in Hall 27, were satisfied too. Despite some feeling the hall was a bit tucked away - first-day visitors did not quite know where to find the Belgians - the booths were crowded on Thursday. A major topic of conversation remained the farmers' protests that had ended just before the fair began. But, "I expect they'll be back on the streets in no time, so we have to prepare for it," one trader told us. Many exhibitors said that though they sympathize with the reason for the farmers' protests, the blockades inconvenience them considerably.

The Berlin trade event also provides the opportunity for some to showcase their new packaging and concepts. Bart Nemegheer of De Aardappelhoeve, for example, was pleased with the renewed fresh potato sales this season. Something Warnez recognized, too. They introduced a new potato brand, too. More about that later. Tomeco's Tom Verdonck also tested the general public's water regarding the Sweetest Queen tomatoes under a new Frieda style. Besides these innovations, there were some familiar showpieces on display again, like Rubis Gold apples at the Devos stand, the Qtee at Fruithandel Wouters and Elite tomatoes from debutant Elite Foods.

Fruit Logistica back to pre-pandemic level
Even with the airport strikes and, thus, canceled flights, visitors from across the globe attended the trade show. Visitor numbers were very satisfactory in Halls 20 and 21, which, as usual, housed most German and Austrian exhibitors, especially on the fair's first two days. Some exhibitors said the numbers were back to pre-pandemic levels. The three-day event in Berlin is increasingly being compared to Fruit Attraction in Madrid. The latter is undoubtedly gaining momentum, with certain parts of the sectors considering the event's autumn date particularly favorable. Yet, that growth is not at the expense of Fruit Logistica. On the contrary, the two trade shows strengthen and complement each other, and therefore, both have a right to exist.

Things like artificial intelligence have boosted the sector's technological developments. That is particularly evident in the mechanical engineering segment. Various AI-based processes were, thus, presented at Fruit Logistica, such as Frigotec's latest Softripe system for ripening pineapples and Kronen's robotic avocado processing line. Along with the regular FLIA Innovation Award, a separate Technology Award was presented for the first time this year. Among the nominees was Hepro's self-service 'Spargel to Go' asparagus peeling system.

And there was more than enough to talk about that this year's Fruit Logistica. The last effects of the pandemic, the war situation in Israel and Ukraine, local issues like increased tolls and minimum wages, ambitious organic targets, and generally tougher political framework conditions characterized the discussions at the show and during the evening events. The German fruit industry, nevertheless, remains innovative and competitive. There is a great willingness to actively participate in new concepts and ideas. One example is the new Bloss apple concept, a transnational partnership in which the German apple industry has already participated.

Fewer French companies
The French pavilion hosted fewer companies this year: 75 versus 98 in 2023. Most were happy with the change of hall (in 2023, they were in hall 22 - the historic French hall). Visitor numbers were higher and the atmosphere better. Last year, many exhibitors complained that the hall was "empty." Many felt that the first day was busier than the second.

For the first time, the Rungis International Market shared a booth with the French National Federation of Wholesale Markets and the World Union of Wholesale Markets. Among the many topics discussed at the fair were the problems facing the chicory sector (phytosanitary solutions are gradually disappearing, and there is a lack of alternative solutions) and the decreased production due to floods in northern France. Those floods affected carrot growers, too. The subject of the agricultural crisis and blockades was also at the center of discussions, with a particular focus on the agricultural sector's future. Some exhibitors presented new varieties that were launched in the last quarter of 2023, including Frutastic from Gautier Semences and Eden Gold pear from Escande Nursery.

Worrisome Spanish cultivation
Though Spain's presence has waned in recent years, that rebounded and was the best represented after the Netherlands and Italy. A Spanish company was once again on the Innovation Awards podium, this year as the winner. That was Unica from Almería, with the new vegetable Zucchiolo, developed by Ifapa and Beyond Seeds. Other new products also stood out, such as Anecoop's new Pea-mole, a guacamole made mainly from peas and avocado that is higher in protein and lower in fat than traditional guacamole.

Spanish visitors and participants were optimistic and satisfied with the event, though they did not hide their concern about the challenges facing the Spanish countryside. That comes both from the rise in production costs, which are "choking" especially cooperatives, and the drought in several key production areas, from north to south. During Fruit Logistica, there were farmer demonstrations and roadblocks in several Spanish provinces, expressing their complex, diverse discontent. The fair was where the strategic alliance of two major fruit-producing cooperatives from Lleida, Actel and Fruits de Ponent was officially detailed. Together, they will process more than 110,000 tons of mainly stone fruit. The Spanish fruit and vegetable sector continues to develop with the formation of large groups.

Contact, by appointment only, at large Italian companies
Compared to other editions, there were about a hundred fewer Italian companies at this year's Fruit Logistica. A large business association spokesperson says the 2024 edition was less well attended than other years but still interesting. The companies had good contacts because everyone realized that the event now exists only by appointment, by organizing it in the months before. The time of people visiting trade shows to meet new customers is definitely over, at least for large companies. Some of the reasons for the fewer Italian participants are reduced investments and a certain impatience with the significant costs, not only at the event but also in the city itself (cabs, hotels, restaurants). For some, it does not fit in with supermarket scheduling.

Less of a UK presence, but happy with location
The United Kingdom was also not as well presented, but those who were there, in the top British stands in Hall 5.2, were delighted with their high-traffic location. Potato companies said they expect to run out of potato supplies in a few months and will have to turn to imports. Seed potato growers had a better growing season and grubbed most of the crop before heavy rains hit the country.

Soft fruit demand was more subdued than usual in January, but it seems demand is picking up as Valentine's Day approaches. A machinery company reports a very busy year with good demand as companies keep automating. Robotics and yield forecasting technology are also seeing progress and an increase in demand.

Poland celebrates 15 years of a joint booth
The Polish participants had something to celebrate: they have had a joint national booth for 15 years. There are always mainly apple traders who see plenty of opportunities in the South American market, as shipping from Asia is far harder this season. And with South Americans harvesting their own apples, traders were looking for new options. Hall 21 had a lot of visitors. With high apple prices, many exporters see it as a successful season, although their costs have also risen significantly.

The Turkish stallholders were only too happy to not be in the CityCube this year. After quite a few complaints, there was a sizeable delegation of Turkish traders, and Hall 27 was clearly to everyone's liking. Traders and visitors alike showed up with Doner sandwiches during lunch. After last year's devastating earthquake, trading has continued to go very well despite the country's skyrocketing inflation. Costs are, thus, huge, but their products are priced high, too. Turkish apple traders who export mainly to India do have a bigger problem. It takes much longer and is far more expensive to get the apples to their destination.

It was busy in Hall 5.2, where the Portuguese participants could be found. It was a good hall to walk through, with quite a few market opportunities. After a poor pear season, the exhibitors are hopeful things will be far better next season. Water is still a challenge for the growers in Portugal, but traders do notice increasing interest from Europe in Portuguese products. Also, they trade mainly with Brazil.

The Greeks occupied Hall 1.1. for several years. A large area, but with very few visitors, by their own admission. In Hall 8.2, these exhibitors found their true niche. With lots of citrus, kiwi, and watermelon on display, the Greek booths were well attended. The throughput from Hall 7.2c was quite noticeable; it was often congested in the narrow space. Despite the logistical challenges regarding exporting to Asia, the Greeks saw plenty of opportunities in Europe this year.

Optimistic North American exhibitors
Hall 23 was always most North American exhibitors' home base, with apples, pears, citrus, tropical/exotic fruits, sweet potatoes, nuts, and packaging well represented. There were some new faces, but the continent also lost some participants who did not return to Berlin. Overall, representation from North America seems to be stable, although the number of Canadian exhibitors was down to four. Outside Hall 23, a few companies were located in halls more specific to their products, including greenhouse technology, machinery & technology, and logistics.

Also, there were several U.S. importers in the Latin America Hall (Hall 25), as they import products from Mexico, Argentina, Chile, and other South American countries. For all of them, their global connections, whether sourcing or exporting, are the main reason for exhibiting. Seeing customers and suppliers from all over the world in one place is very valuable and efficient and creates a positive atmosphere.

In addition to exhibiting, more and more US and Canadian companies seem to be sending representatives to visit the event. That is a good way to meet global suppliers instead of having to travel to different countries to meet them in person. Another reason to attend is to get a feel for product and packaging trends. What is trending in Europe now will find its way to North America in the coming years.

Busy Latin American halls
A Honduran vegetable trader called the event helped them expand their partnerships with some buyers and see new business opportunities. Ecuadorian banana exporters continued trading after the Russian ban on some companies. They said they hope the respective governments will find a solution. The Chilean pavilion was busy, especially with different meetings. There was some attention, just before the Chinese New Year, to the latest cherry arrivals. Participants lamented the tragic forest fires, which fortunately did not spread. The PromPeru pavilion was busy, too, with an array of fruits and vegetables on display. Grapes, avocados, and blueberries featured heavily. Argentina's pavilion had a range of pears, apples, citrus products, and fruit exporters. Lemon producers are hoping for a better season with full production volumes to recover from last year's season of lower volumes. The subject of the new government came up, with feedback that they are keeping an eye on what impact the new government will have on the industry, exchange rates and inflation.

Argentina's pavilion featured a range of pear, apple and citrus producers and exporters with fruit on offer. Lemon producers are hoping for a better season with full production volumes to recover from last year's lower volume season. The topic of the new government came up, with feedback that they are monitoring the impact the new government will have on industry, exchange rates and inflation.

Israeli seed suppliers and fruit exporters were very busy at the show. Some said they met customers in person, while also reaching new customers. The new AI technology providers demonstrated their fruit scanning and quality measuring capabilities with daily demonstrations. They reported that the interest from potential customers and clients was very high.

Better location for Middle Eastern exhibitors
Hall 22 was home to exhibitors from the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region, mainly Egyptian, Moroccan and Lebanese companies, among other nationalities from the region. The location of the hall is much better than last year, according to the exhibitors surveyed, because it is in the middle of the fair. Visitors going from the European to the American halls, and vice versa, inevitably pass through the MENA hall. This observation was shared by several Egyptian, Moroccan and Lebanese exhibitors, who also highlighted the efforts to build attractive, spacious and bright stands. Moroccan exhibitors particularly appreciated the location of their pavilion, compared to last year's in City Cube, which they considered isolated.

Exhibitors from the region also highlighted how busy the hall remained throughout the fair, until the last hours of the third day, which they say is quite rare and demonstrates the success of this year's edition.

Click here for the International photo report of Fruit Logistica