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Work will be done to improve the availability of phytosanitary products

Good forecasts for the table grape season in France, Italy, Portugal and Spain

The table grape contact group, comprised of representatives from the main sectoral associations -including Fepex-Apoexa- and government officials from France, Italy, Spain, and Portugal, met in Avignon (France) this week. The group analyzed the season's forecasts, estimating there will be good quality grapes overall, and agreed to work to improve the availability of phytosanitary products.

The table grape contact group found that one of the main production issues was the gradual disappearance of phytosanitary products and active materials, which makes it difficult to properly manage and control pests, an issue that the garlic, stone fruit, pear, and apple contact groups have also highlighted. The group also agreed to develop a joint study to determine the active materials used in each country that the sector must continue to have. It's a study that French producers have already started and the Italians and Spaniards will join.

It also agreed to accept Fepex's proposal for authorizations of plant protection products to be carried out on a zonal basis and not by Member State, to have greater availability of these products. This way, when a product is authorized, for example, in Spain, it will automatically be approved in all the countries of the southern zone. Currently, Regulation 1107/2009 on the marketing of plant protection products establishes three zones for the authorization of plant protection products: zone A, which corresponds to the countries of the north, such as Denmark, Sweden, and Finland; zone B, which corresponds to the countries in central Europe, such as Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria... and zone C, composed of the countries of the south, such as Spain, France, Greece, and Italy.

The contact group also analyzed the campaign forecasts in the four countries and predicted it would be a normal campaign, with good quality, depending on the weather in the coming months.

Spain is expected to produce 300,000 tons of grapes this season, according to Joaquín Gómez, director of Apoexpa (the Association of Producers and Exporters of Fruit, Table Grapes and other agricultural products of Murcia), an association integrated into Fepex. Some 230,000 tons will come from the Region of Murcia, the country's main producer and exporter, which started marketing this season's first volumes last week. The Spanish production is the first to enter the market, gradually followed by the productions of Portugal, Italy, and France, the last country to start the campaign, in August.

The table grape group was one of the last contact groups to be created within the framework of the France-Spain-Italy-Portugal Fruit and Vegetables Joint Committee. Its constitution responds to the growth of apirena grape production, especially in Spain and Italy, and the growing interest from European demand. The group which first met in 2019, agreed this week at Avignon's meeting to hold its next meeting in Portugal. The Spanish government was represented by the agricultural advisors of the Embassy of Spain in Paris and the Embassy of Spain in Rome, Manuel Riesgo and Juan Prieto, respectively.

According to data from Customs processed by Fepex, Spain exported 132,664 tons of table grapes worth 329 million euros in 2023.

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