Freshfel Europe Headlines – Edition 2, 2021
Freshfel Europe Annual Event taking place on 4 June 2021 celebrating 20 years
The 2021 Freshfel Europe Annual Event will take place online on 4 June 2021. Celebrating Freshfel Europe’s 20th anniversary, to mark the occasion Freshfel Europe will host a public event for the fresh produce sector to look back over Freshfel Europe’s achievements in the last 20 years. The Annual Event will also look ahead at challenges and new opportunities for fresh produce business, which are being reshaped by the European Green Deal, the Farm to Fork Strategy and the COVID-19 pandemic especially in terms of business operations and eating habits for the upcoming decade. The Annual Event programme is currently being prepared and will soon be released. On the occasion of its 20th anniversary of successful activities on behalf of the European fresh fruit and vegetables supply chain, Freshfel Europe looks forward to welcoming public and private representatives that are shaping fresh produce business and calls everyone to join forces to address future challenges and build together on the new favorable momentum to boost consumption opportunities for our healthy and quality fresh produce. All information about the Annual Event, including sponsorship information, is available via the Freshfel Europe website here.
Freshfel Europe Board meets to review the Association’s latest achievements & new priorities
The Freshfel Board met on 26 March to review the Association’s achievements over the past months and upcoming priorities. The Board underlined the great success of Freshfel Europe’s activities in coordination with its UK member the Fresh Produce Consortium to get a one-year postponement of the new control measures in regard to plant health. This will facilitate on-going flow of more than 3 Mio T of fresh produce from the EU to the UK. This new ‘postponement’ of control measures will allow the UK to get better prepared for phytosanitary controls and move forwards to digitalization. The Board also underlined the value of the Freshfel Europe position paper on SPS barriers for export, timely released on the occasion of the latest European Commission trade policy review. Sustainability remains for Freshfel Europe and the sector one of the top priorities to adjust to the new European Green Deal and Farm to Fork Strategy expectations. In the past months, Freshfel Europe undertook 12 new initiatives in this respect, including the setting up of a dedicated working group on Organic and another one on Environmental Footprint. Besides this, Freshfel Europe continues to closely monitor the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in regard to mobility of workers, border controls and other logistics constraints such as availability of containers and airfreight, as those are currently impacting trade. Looking ahead of the pandemic, Freshfel Europe is starting to assess the long-term implications in regards to the supply chain structure, sales channels to consumers and evolving eating habits. Freshfel Europe will explore with retailers how to build on the long term on the positive trends of consumption experienced during the pandemic.
New Environmental Footprint Working Group established for Freshfel Europe members
In March Freshfel Europe established a new dedicated Working Group on Environmental Footprint for its members to discuss on a permanent and regular basis sector and policy developments on environmental footprint and to facilitate increased cooperation and engagement between members on this topic. The establishment of the Working Group follows Freshfel Europe’s webinar on 18 February on ‘Environmental footprint initiatives in the fruit and vegetable sector’, which gathered over 40 Freshfel Europe members to discuss and ascertain opportunities and challenges for enhanced sector cooperation for an initiative on environmental footprint. The Working Group held its first meeting on 31 March, drafting an Action Plan to outline the Working Group’s short and long-term priority initiatives. More information is available via the press release here.
Freshfel Europe holds webinar on EU marketing standards & responds to public consultation
In preparation to the response to a public consultation on the Roadmap on revision of EU marketing standards (Regulation (EU) No 543/2011) and their adjustability to sustainability aspects of the food supply chain Freshfel Europe organised a webinar with its members. Freshfel Europe strongly supports the European Commission’s ambitions in the European Green and the Farm to Fork Strategy to foster a more sustainable food system in Europe. Accordingly, Freshfel Europe believes that the EU food system’s impact on the environment must be evaluated and minimized. At the same time a shift towards healthy and sustainable diets must be pursued in all areas. This is vital for long-term food system change. Freshfel Europe therefore welcomes the European Commission’s proposal for a revision of Regulation (EU) 1169/2011 on the provision of information to consumers. The revision of Regulation (EU) 1169/2011 will be fundamental in driving change in the food environment to better European consumers’ diets. Freshfel Europe also welcomed the opportunity to comment on the four main actions outlined in Inception Impact Assessment for the revision of Regulation (EU) 1169/2011, namely a proposal for a harmonised mandatory front-of-pack nutrition labelling, the setting of nutrient profiles, the extension of mandatory origin or provenance indications to certain products, and EU rules on date marking (‘use by’ and ‘best before’).
Freshfel Europe holds its first Statistical Extranet Tutorial for members
On 23 March 2021, Freshfel Europe held its first Statistical Extranet Tutorial for its members. The Statistical Extranet, which is an exclusive service provided to Freshfel Europe members, is a digital platform where relevant data for the fruit and vegetables sector can be analyzed. This includes European and global production, trade and consumption statistics. The Tutorial showed Freshfel Europe’s members how to access Freshfel Europe’s Statistical Extranet, which fruit and vegetables trade and consumption data is available on the Statistical Extranet, how to effectively navigate the system for market analysis, and provided a series of the practices on interpreting data.
Freshfel Europe’s Committee on Interbranch reviews CAP tools
Under the lead of its Chairman, Laurent Grandin, President of Interfel, the Freshfel Europe Committee on Interbranch is meeting every 6 weeks to review some of the latest policy developments linked to the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP). This includes the calendar of the CAP reform and the role of Interbranch, the transposition process in national law of the Unfair Trading Practice European Directive and the marketing standards evaluation process. The Committee is now also including the Hungarian Interbranch Organization ‘FruitVeb’ who joined the last meeting with Freshfel Europe members from The Netherlands, France, Spain and Italy.
Freshfel Europe advocates for a strong promotion policy for F&V sector
As the European Commission is engaging in consultation to reshape its promotion policy, Freshfel Europe issued a detailed position paper with a strong advocacy for a robust but flexible promotion policy with increased budget for fresh produce. The current COVID-19 pandemic as well as the new objectives resulting from the Farm to Fork Strategy and the EU Beating Cancer Plan are generating a unique momentum that should not be missed. Fruit and vegetables have the greatest health assets and the most minimal environmental impact compared to other food categories, which both provide valuable solutions and responses to these new policies priorities. As the average EU consumption remains below the minimum of 400 g per capita per day, the promotion policy reform represents a unique opportunity to fund new marketing initiatives to stimulate consumption of a healthy diet rich in a diversity of quality fresh fruit and vegetables and to inform consumers about the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. Beside responding to the European Commission roadmap on promotion policy, Freshfel Europe also took part with Mrs Simona Rubbi in the panel discussion of the Info Day on Promotion with MEP Herbert Dorfmann and Lukas Visek, member of the Cabinet of First Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans, exchanging about how best to communicate and position sustainability and organic in the promotion policy to meet the objective of the Green Deal and the Farm to Fork Strategy. Freshfel Europe’s perspectives are further reinforced through the participation of the Association in the Civil Dialogue Group for Promotion and Quality, currently chaired by Freshfel Europe.
UK government postpones new import requirements for EU exports as requested by Freshfel Europe
Over the past months Freshfel Europe has been advocating for more flexibility from the UK when it comes to the obligation for EU fresh produce exports to the UK to carry phytosanitary certificates from 1 April 2021. As part of these efforts, Freshfel Europe sent a formal request for additional derogations to the UK Chancellor of Lancaster Michael Gove on 15 February, in cooperation with the UK Fresh Produce Consortium. Freshfel also reiterated its concerns about the impact of these obligations in its ongoing exchanges with the EU Commission and the UK authorities. The postponement of the entry into application of this obligation for 6 months was therefore a crucial success for the sector’s resilience. This should enable the UK, EU Member States and EU exporters to prepare, and for facilitations like electronic transmission to be implemented, as highlighted by Freshfel Europe throughout the past months. Overall, the European fresh fruit and vegetables sector will have to issue at least 750,000 phytosanitary certificates a year to continue trade across the English Channel. Freshfel Europe will continue working with its members in the coming months to support readiness for new obligations in 2022.
Freshfel Europe builds new export opportunities to Thailand
Freshfel Europe’s General Delegate Philippe Binard took part as a speaker and panelist at the recent two seminars between the EU and Thailand focusing on market access for EU exports and on organic. Freshfel Europe took part to these events together with representatives of DG AGRI, DG TRADE and DG SANTE of the European Commission as well as the EU delegation in Bangkok and several Member State representatives. Ms Montanaro from the Italian Apple Association (Assomela) took part along with Mr Binard to the policy panel on market access to share recent Italian experiences in gaining market access for apples and the new opportunities it represents next to the existing presence of French apples to diversify the EU assortment on that market. The seminar was an opportunity to further call to the Thai authorities to engage in more simplification for the market access process to move towards more efficiency and transparency for all the pending protocols applications. The Organic seminar gave the opportunity for Mr Binard to explore and measure opportunities and highlight the challenges for the growth of organic trade on international markets. Freshfel Europe’s presentations in these two events are available from the Association’s Secretariat.
Freshfel Europe takes part in DG AGRI reflection on EU Contingency Plan for ensuring food supply & food security
As part of the follow up and response to the COVID-19 crisis and the Farm to Fork Strategy, DG AGRI launched a Working Group with Member States on contingency plan for ensuring food supply and food security earlier this year. Freshfel Europe’s General Delegate Philippe Binard was invited to the March meeting to provide the views of the European fruit and vegetables sector on the contingency plan within the specificities of the sector. In his presentation, Mr Binard outlined the main characteristics of the fresh produce sector (structure, price sensitivity, multiple market realities and perishability and the main trade pattern) and the essential role of fresh produce as part of a healthy diet. He also outlined the different kinds of crises the sector could be exposed to, providing an exhaustive review of preparedness to cope with crisis, measures that are available to prevent crises and those to be undertaken to mitigate a crisis. A call for public-private partnership was made to be more efficient in handling crises, which by nature will all be different in their scope and remedies. Freshfel Europe contributed in January 2021 to the European Commission consultation on Contingency Planning and hosted a joint public event with ESSA on crisis management in September 2020, which gathered more than 200 participants from the sector, the European Commission and Member States.
Freshfel Europe discusses opportunities to boost trade through new partnership under MFF with DG INTPA
Freshfel Europe and some of its members took part to a meeting with DG INTPA to shape the best framework for fresh produce for partnership and development cooperation programs under the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF). Given the global dimension of the fresh fruit and vegetables supply chains and the strong links in particular with developing countries, Freshfel Europe’s experts provided the sector’s perspective particularly in relation to the EU’s action in the areas of communication and engagement with partner countries, aid for trade, and investment to the European Commission. This could help further boost the international fresh produce business in terms of trade (both ways) and investments among other benefits on logistics for perishable products. Further follow up with DG INTPA will take place in the coming weeks. Freshfel Europe’s position is available from the Secretariat.
Freshfel Europe publishes reflection paper urging EU to adopt a fully-fledged SPS Strategy to ensure reciprocity in trade relations
In response to the publication of the new EU Trade Policy Review on 1 March Freshfel Europe published a policy reflection paper, ‘SPS Export Protocols: towards greater reciprocity in fresh produce trade’. The paper summarises market access hurdles faced by the European fresh fruit and vegetables sector, which is confronted with the need to negotiate individual ‘SPS export protocols’ to start business with many trade partners, whereas similar specific protocols are not required for the majority of imports of fresh produce into the Union. This situation is leading to an appalling lack of reciprocity in SPS market access conditions that urgently needs to be addressed. In its paper, Freshfel Europe urges the European Commission to define with Member States a concrete EU SPS strategy to secure market diversification by easing market access conditions based on safe trade guaranteed by the EU regulatory environment. In parallel, the Freshfel Europe Secretariat continues supporting its members in its market access efforts in key markets, including China, Thailand, India and Japan.
COVID-19 related challenges for F&V sector closely monitored by Freshfel Europe
Over the past months Freshfel Europe has continued engaging with Members in relation to COVID-19 related disruptions and challenges for the fresh produce sector. Notably, Freshfel Europe liaised with its members and the European Commission following the re-introduction of border closures and movement restrictions in various Member States as a response to the spread of new COVID variants. The Commission took on board in its recent communications the sector’s requests to ensure coordination of Member States’ measures, to secure the functioning of Green Lanes and to enable the movement of essential workers across the EU, such as truck drivers or seasonal workers. As a follow-up, Freshfel Europe is preparing a response to the EU survey on Contingency Planning, where the sector will reiterate the need to set up permanent EU coordination and crisis management mechanisms to respond to future crises. The Freshfel Europe Board also discussed this issue on 26 March, agreeing that continued monitoring of the impact of the new COVID-19 wave on the fruit and vegetable sector remains a priority.
EU Code of Conduct being drafted by EU agri-food stakeholders including Freshfel Europe
Since December 2020 Freshfel Europe has been participating in the development of the European Commission initiative ‘Code of Conduct for Responsible Business and Marketing Practices’ under the European Green Deal and Farm to Fork Strategy. Along with other prominent EU-level agri-food stakeholders, Freshfel Europe is now helping to draft Component 1 of the Code of Conduct, comprising of aspirational objectives and actions for EU associations to commit to upon signing the Code. Since the beginning of 2021 Freshfel Europe Director Sustainability and Health Nicola Pisano has been representing the Association at all general stakeholder meetings as well as those for the Thematic Session on sustainable and healthy diets to which Freshfel Europe is an appointed member. This intense stakeholder consultation process is part of the European Commission’s fast-track development of the Code of Conduct to enable first signatures by the end of June 2021 for presentation of the Code of Conduct at the UN Food Systems Summit scheduled for September. All information about the EU Code of Conduct is available from the European Commission website here.
Freshfel Europe comments on German food additive law
In November 2020 the German Authorities notified the European Commission through the TRIS platform of a German Ordinance on the extension of food additive labelling on fruits and vegetables. While according to the Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 543/2011 the labelling of post-harvest treatments is required only on certain citrus fruit, the German Draft legislation of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture intends to extend the labelling of certain food additives used for surface treatment with the indication ‘waxed’ if they are used as treatment on fruits and vegetables. In its response Freshfel Europe expressed its concerns on the following points: misalignment with EU level standards impacting mutual recognition of food labelling laws among EU Member States; such labelling does not contribute to consumer protection; misleading consumers and inconsistency in food additive disclosure requirements, and legitimacy of current national German food additive labelling law.
Sustainable Use Directive: contribution to the Study supporting the Evaluation of Directive 2009/128/EC on the SUD and impact assessment of its possible revision
As part of the European Commission’s evaluation, Freshfel Europe was invited to contribute to the ‘Study supporting the Evaluation of Directive 2009/128/EC on the sustainable use of pesticides (SUD) and impact assessment of its possible revision’ by taking part in an interview. In 2020 Freshfel Europe responded to the impact assessment on the EU rules on the sustainable use of pesticides aim to protect human health and the environment from the possible risks and impacts of pesticides. Freshfel Europe also provided its comments to Commission’s consultation on possible future policy options and has invited the members of the Association to respond to a public questionnaire as individual companies.
Legislative packaging reduction measures being monitored by Freshfel Europe
Since the initiation of EU level discussions on the Single-use Plastics Directive (Directive (EU) 2019/904) Freshfel Europe has been actively monitoring packaging-related legislative developments at both EU and national levels as well as participating in the European Commission’s stakeholder consultation processes on behalf of the fresh produce sector. Most recently, Freshfel Europe provided input to the European Commission regarding the revision of the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (Directive 94/62/EC), public consultation, especially regarding the revision of the Directive’s Essential Requirements. On request of the European Commission and in consultation with its members the Association has also provided detailed analysis for certain packaging products used in the sector, such fruit and vegetable stickers. As the mid-2021 implementation deadline for the Single-use Plastics Directive is also approaching, Freshfel Europe has been keeping its members abreast of Member State transposition, especially regarding food container reduction consumption legislation.
Freshfel Europe attends 10th EU Platform on Food Losses & Food Waste meeting
On 18 March Freshfel Europe attended the 10th meeting of the EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste. Notably, the Commission presented the official extension of the mandate of the Platform. Currently the Platform’s mandate ends at the end of 2021. Due to the high prominence of the Platform’s work towards the EU Green Deal’s and Farm to Fork Strategy’s objectives on sustainability and food loss and waste prevention, the mandate will be extended until the end of 2026. Freshfel Europe will be reapplying for its seat on the Platform. The of the 10th meeting was a full day meeting covering significant aspects of the Platform’s work including: date marking with EFSA Guidance Part 1 published on 1 December 2020 with Part 2 now adopted on 10 March 2021 and to be published in early April 2021; the FAO Voluntary Code of Conduct on Food Loss and Food Waste, to which Freshfel Europe contributed with the final version still undergoing final changes to be submitted to the 42nd Session of the FAO Conference in June 2021 for endorsement; the LIFE Programme’s new funding opportunities for entities on food loss and waste activities under the new LIFE Programme structure with the AWP 2021 to be released in June 2021, and Freshfel attends 10th EU Platform on FLFW meeting – Platform mandate renewed until 2026 on uptake of the Platform’s Recommendations for Action including challenges and opportunities. The presentations from the Platform meeting are available on the European Commission website here.
Freshfel Europe’s #SpeakUp4FruitVeg campaign gains momentum as the UN’s International Year of Fruits & Vegetables progresses
To celebrate and support the UN’s 2021 International Year of Fruits and Vegetables, Freshfel Europe’s digital campaign #SpeakUp4FruitVeg is calling on EU policy-makers to boost their support for fruit and vegetables in all policy areas in the shift under the European Green Deal towards sustainable healthy diets. Currently, the average EU daily fruit and vegetable consumption per capita is 363.77g, which is below the minimum recommended daily consumption of 400g by the WHO. With its strong presence on social media (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn), #SpeakUp4FruitVeg encourages EU decision-makers, primarily European Commission officials, Members of the European Parliament, and Member State representatives to take action to better support the fresh produce sector in EU policy. Throughout the year Freshfel Europe’s campaign, which kicked off with an introduction of the UN’s initiative and an overview of the fresh produce sector, will cover a variety of pertinent policy areas, including production and the CAP, supply chain aspects, promotion, sustainability and circular economy, intra-EU and global trade, food safety and quality, crisis management, research and innovation, and health and nutrition. More information about the #SpeakUp4FruitVeg campaign is available here and all information regarding the 2021 International Year of Fruits and Vegetables is available here. An overview of all social media posts published so far is available here.
‘Follow me to be Healthy with Europe’ campaign & #400gChallenge continues into its third & final year
The “Follow me to be Healthy with Europe” campaign, launched by Freshfel Europe and Aprifel and co-funded by the European Commission, continues to encourage young Europeans to increase their consumption of fruit and vegetables to a minimum of 400g a day in its third and final year. In 2021, several high-profile European social media influencers will be involved in the promotion of the campaign, including Spaniard Carlos Rios, German Denise Schuster, Italian Luisa Ambrosini, Polish lifemanagerka and French Clemfoodie and Gaëlle Prudencio. More cooperations with influencers will be revealed soon. These partnerships aim to show the participants of the #400gChallenge that eating a diet high in fruit and vegetables is not only healthy but also delicious, easy to achieve, and fun to experiment with. The followers of the campaign are ‘challenged’ to include more fruit and vegetables in their daily diet. These challenges are promoted by monthly infographics, tips, and videos, which showcase the health benefits of fruit and vegetables in an engaging and relatable format across the campaign’s six social media channels. You can join the #400gChallenge today by following us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and visiting the official website of the campaign.