Freshfel Headlines

Freshfel Headlines – number 2 / 2018, covering news from February and March 2018

Thematic Network for 2018 on fruit and vegetable consumption selected

Each year the European Commission selects four Thematic Networks involving key EU health issues to create a Joint Statement to inform the Commission of the expertise and perspectives of the European public health community and support it in its work. This year, Freshfel’s Thematic Network on ‘Stimulating fresh fruit and vegetable consumption for healthier European consumers’ has been chosen as one of the four for 2018. This temporary network will act as a platform for sharing information, knowledge and best practices on the benefits of fresh fruit and vegetable consumption. The Thematic Network will be open to all health and agri-food stakeholders who are EU Health Policy Platform registered users, including associations, organisations and private citizens.

Freshfel Europe meets Director General of DG AGRI on CAP reform

Together with colleagues from the European Heart Network (EHN), the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) and Aprifel, the Freshfel secretariat met with Director General of DG AGRI Mr Plewa to follow up on the exchange of letters between these associations and the Commissioner on the relevance of the CAP better incorporating health into its policy and enhancing good dietary practices.

The consortium of associations as listed above were  pleased that the Communication on the Future of Food and Farming highlighted the role fruit and vegetables play in promoting healthier nutrition and in contributing to addressing critical health issues such as the reduction of obesity and prevention of non-communicable disease (NCD). As the new CAP will be steered by a results-driven delivery system based on European policy objectives which will be implemented through national Strategy Plans instead of compliance based policy, the outreach of actions resulting from the national strategies will need to be based on performance indicators, and be measurable.

In anticipation of the new proposal expected in June, the associations advocated that the inclusion of health and nutrition targets would provide a new dynamic with smart and fresh objectives in line with societal expectations. It could therefore contribute to more prominently positioning fruit and vegetables in the CAP than currently is the case (fruit and vegetables currently amount to a share of more than 15% of the agricultural output value of with a budgetary allocation well below 3% of the CAP budget). The associations identified some ambitious goals that could contribute to a successful reshaping of the CAP such as further reinforcing the SFS for fruit and vegetables to secure a daily intake for children in primary and secondary school (around 60€ per child per school term for daily delivery), further boosting the budget for promotion and information on actions for healthy diets and consider a scheme that would allow Member States to support healthy public procurement models for healthy recipes in public procurement.  On this background, the fruit and vegetable sector could play an important and positive role with a triple win outcome: for the economy (labour intensive sector), for the environment (sustainability including important topics such as water usage, energy efficiency, low pesticide prevalence, resources management…) and for health (improved diet leading to reduction of several NCDs).

Reinforcing the position of fruit and vegetable in the new CAP will provide incentives and responsibility for Member States to include fruit and vegetables in their national strategies to implement the CAP and deliver results on sustainable goals and in particular the UN SDGs. EHN, EPHA and Freshfel will remain keen to cooperate in the coming weeks with DG AGRI within this spirit to ensure that fruit and vegetables indeed get the policy’s recognition that its sustainable & social assets (economy, environment and health) are providing.

Freshfel’s initial full press release and letter to Commissioner Hogan are available to read here.

Brexit: Impact and solutions for the fruit and vegetable sector

Just one year ahead of the deadline for Brexit, and as discussion are moving into the details of a transition period and  the framework for the future relationship between the EU-27 and the UK, Freshfel released a new position paper highlighting bottlenecks and solutions to minimize the impact of the changing trading arrangements. The EU exports more than 3 million T of fresh produce to the UK. Contingency plans are needed to cover different aspects of the trade in terms of customs, administration, controls, infrastructure, visibility on evolving legislation and education and training of business operators to adjust to the new environment, especially considering that most companies trading with the UK are often SMEs, with limited expertise of custom procedures.

Freshfel works closely with its members on both side of the “channel” and also keep close contact with organizations covering other agricultural products, as well as with the European Commission services.

Freshfel Europe takes part in EU-South Korea SPS seminar

Freshfel Europe’s General Delegate Philippe Binard participated in the first ever SPS seminar organized by DG AGRI in Seoul, South Korea. The objective of the seminar was to highlight to South Korean authorities and business representatives the benefits and challenges for the EU agri-food sector in South Korea. With representatives from different services of the European Commission (AGRI-TRADE-SANTE) and the EU delegation in Seoul as well as representatives from Member States Embassies in South Korea, the assets of EU agri-food products were highlighted during a two day seminar.

The seminar, attended by more than 100 persons, was an opportunity to highlight the functioning of the EU food system, the guarantee behind the regulatory system securing the good functioning of the single market and European quality schemes, namely GI, PDO and organic legislation.

In two presentations during the seminar, Freshfel Europe’s General Delegate outlined the GAP and quality schemes behind EU fruit and vegetables production as well as the multi-layered control systems of the EU fruit and vegetables sector. The second presentation also addressed the challenges of EU exports to South Korea. After 7 years of a free trade agreement between the EU and South Korea, several hurdles still remain in place and should be removed to facilitate trade and diversify the fruit and vegetables assortment on the Korean market. New and simplified procedures in regard to plant health protocols should be considered in this respect. Freshfel will continue to work with its members and the European Commission to improve market access and transparency of the South Korean legislation for European operators.

Freshfel Europe attends CELCAA UTPs workshop

On 22 February 2018, Freshfel, together with other European agri-food associations, participated in a workshop organised by CELCAA, the association representing the traders in agri-food commodities in the EU, on Unfair Trading Practices. The European Commission is currently drafting legislation regarding these practices, with a particular focus on the relations between producers and retailers in certain food chains. The aim of the workshop was to provide the European Commission representatives with an in-depth overview how the different food chains function, to show the diversity between them, and to emphasise the role traders play over the whole chain.

Representing the complete fresh fruit and vegetable supply chain, the Freshfel representative provided an overview of the characteristics of the industry, highlighting not only its perishability & seasonality, the different distribution channels, the diversity of the products, and high price volatility, but also the increasing consolidation and integration of the complete chain, and the sometimes long-term working relations between the actors.

Also, the milk and grain traders’ associations provided an expert to illustrate the specificities of their sectors. Overall, the common line between the associations was that a one-size-fits-all approach would not benefit anyone, given the many differences between the sectors. From the Commission, the workshop was attended by representatives of the different Directorate-Generals that are involved in the file (DG AGRI, DG GROW, DG COMP, and the Secretariat General).

Freshfel Europe meeting with Ecorys

Recently Freshfel met Ecorys – a consultancy that has been commissioned by DG Santé to carry out a study on the REFIT evaluation of Regulation 1107/2009 and Regulation 396/2005. During the meeting Freshfel had an opportunity to explain about the concerns of the sector in view to both regulations. In the past Freshfel provided its input to the evaluation by responding to the REFIT consultation at the end of 2016, and also responded to the online REFIT stakeholder survey at the end of 2017.

Freshfel Europe participates in CSD with Commission Director General Jean-Luc Demarty

On 23 March, Freshfel participated in an exchange of views between Mr. Jean-Luc Demarty, Commission Director General in DG Trade, and civil society stakeholders. Mr. Demarty gave an overview of the EU’s trade agenda and strategic interests in international trade. He focused on the challenges the EU is facing at WTO level, and also extensively commented on the EU’s inclusion of Chapters on Trade and Sustainable Development (TSD) in the FTAs with partners, and the possible ways to enforce them.

Freshfel Europe participates in CDG on International Aspects of Agriculture

On 19 March, Freshfel participated in the Civil Dialogue Group on International Aspects of Agriculture, organised by the European Commission. During the meeting, Freshfel and other interested stakeholders were briefed by the Commission on current challenges and developments, including the implementation of safeguard clauses in EU trade agreements, the latest progress in EU FTAs, and the future of trade relations with the UK after Brexit. In particular, on Brexit, the Commission expressed its ambition to secure a comprehensive tariff free FTA with the UK, with full liberalisation for trade in goods, while acknowledging that there will be some friction at the border when the UK becomes a third country.

Freshfel Europe participates in CSD on EU-Mexico FTA negotiations with Cheif Negotiator Helena Konig

On 13 March, Freshfel participated in the Civil Society Dialogue with Commission’s Chief Negotiator for Mexico, Helena Konig. Mr. Konig reported good progress in the FTA negotiators, and indicated that the agri-sector had been a priority in the negotiations for the EU side. In addition, she announced that there is a chance to conclude the agreement soon, possibly in April. During the meeting, Freshfel expressed its support for the conclusion of the negotiations and welcomed the reinforcement of the SPS Chapter, which shall allow the EU fruit and vegetable sector to benefit from the agreement. Freshfel also advocated for the avoidance of the introduction of strict quotas in the deal.

Freshfel Europe attends Food Loss and Food Waste Sub-group Meeting on Waste Measurement

On the 28 February Freshfel attended the European Commission’s EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste meeting of the Sub-group on food waste measurement along with other stakeholder representatives from the food industry and Member State delegates. An update on the Waste Framework Directive was given during the meeting, in which provisions include the adoption of a food waste measurement methodology for Member States by the end of 2018 and a format on how to report on these data by the end of 2019. These proposals are to be formally adopted and enter into force in June this year. Meeting participants discussed the definition of food waste, the scope and frequency of measurement required as well as the progress of measuring SDG 12.3 to halve food waste per capita by 2030.

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