After reviewing the content of the preliminary agreement of the Trilogue between the European Council European Parliament and Commission on the Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR) Freshfel Europe is baffled to see the escalation of policy incoherencies and the unfair discrimination towards fresh produce. In the current format, the PPWR will undoubtedly increase packaging waste, contribute to more food waste, generate logistical inefficiencies, increase carbon emissions, breach the functioning of the Single Market by allowing national provisions and, above all, lead to a further decline of consumption. Freshfel urgently calls for amending the compromised text to safeguard the internal market and secure a feasible business environment for fresh produce.

Freshfel Europe reacts to the latest draft PPWR compromise with great astonishment and concern. The PPWR proposal was an opportunity to avert the imminent fragmentation of packaging requirements across the Member States by harmonizing rules at the EU level. The fresh produce sector now fears an even more diverging and divided internal market. Freshfel Europe’s General Delegate Philippe Binard commented “The compromise agreement on PPWR denatured the Regulation format of the proposal aiming to set common rules for the EU market. Unfortunately, the compromise on PPWR is shifting towards a ‘Directive style’ approach, tolerating a high level of subsidiarity allowing Member States to keep in place their national legislations.”

While the compromise PPWR will allow exceptions to the restriction on plastic packaging for fresh produce, Member States will have the competence to draw their own national exception lists, based on guidelines to be formulated by the Commission with the support of EFSA. This will cause a proliferation of national lists, no list being the same as the other, due to differences in diet cultures, product requirements and trade patterns. Freshfel Europe’s General Delegate Philippe Binard explains that “by not having a Union harmonised list of exempted products that could be packed in plastic packaging, it will deeply impact the distribution within the EU Single Market, especially but not only within border regions”. He added: “When fresh produce is packed, the final destination is rarely known. As a result, fresh produce might have to be unpacked and re-packed in the supply chain, causing increased packaging waste and risking the quality of the product”. Freshfel Europe views this as an unnecessary greater environmental cost that will also trickle down to the end consumers, increasing the monetary cost of healthy and sustainable diets.

Freshfel Europe deeply laments that the European PPWR compromise maintains a discriminatory status for fresh fruit and vegetables by upholding – though softening by limiting the restrictions to plastic packaging only – the concept set in the Commission proposal of restricting packaging for fresh fruit and vegetables by 2030. Joanna Nathanson, Head of Sustainability and External Relations at Freshfel Europe commented: “The compromise goes against the European Parliament’s position which decided to remove this discrimination. No other food category is subject to similar restrictions. The fresh produce sector is heavily committed to sustainability in all its aspects. No rules disconnected from business reality are needed to guide the fresh produce sector which already aims for the best environmental solutions while securing quality and freshness to limit waste, and the best packaging solutions for low environmental footprints while maintaining the tools to promote fresh produce and guide consumers towards healthier and more sustainable diets ”.

There is no sound justification for the ban on packaging for fresh produce. Plastic packaging for fresh produce accounts for only 1,5% of all plastic packaging used for food products, and even less when looking at the total plastic packaging in Europe. Today, around 50% of fresh produce is sold loose, and where this is not the case there are always well-founded reasons for this. For instance, to ensure hygiene, food safety and quality, to communicate necessary information to consumers, secure diversity, innovation, and segmentation or to prevent premature food waste. While the move to healthier and more sustainable diets is one of the key objectives of the Green Deal and other related strategies, this is blatantly ignored in the PPWR. Frozen or processed fruit and vegetables are not equally sanctioned, meat or fish products are not subject to the restriction. The measure deliberately and exclusively targets fresh fruit and vegetables. The move to plant diets driven by raw, unprocessed, fresh produce is ignored.

Freshfel Europe’s President Salvatore Laudani considers that imposing these restrictions only for fresh fruits and vegetables reflects a “therapeutic fury” of policymakers against fresh fruit and vegetables. He explains, “The discriminatory measure of these restrictions and added complications for the fresh produce sector are unfounded and without scientific basis. We have time and time again communicated to the legislators the minimal role of the sector as users of packaging, and the steps already being taken to move towards the most sustainable alternatives, but it is obvious that we have not been heard and that the legislators are acting from an ivory tower guided by emotional ideas”. The essential role of fresh fruit and vegetables, having among the lowest environmental impact and the highest health benefits as presented in Barilla’s double food pyramid, are disregarded.

Freshfel Europe hopes that the co-legislators can gather their wisdom and find their way back to the original ambition of reducing packaging and packaging waste by harmonising rules in the internal market. This cannot be achieved by sacrificing other goals of food waste reduction and environmental performance or by stigmatizing and discriminating an essential fresh produce sector which is part of the solutions to societal concerns.







Note to the Editors: Freshfel Europe is the European Fresh Produce Association, representing the interests of the fresh fruit and vegetables supply chain in Europe and beyond. Freshfel Europe currently has over 200 members, including both companies and associations. For more information, please contact Joanna Nathanson at

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