Freshfel Headlines – number 3 / 2017, covering news from April and May 2017
Freshfel Annual Event coming up on 19-20 June
This year the conference will be the first joint conference for Freshfel, the European Fresh Produce Association and PROFEL, the European Association of Fruit and Vegetable Processors. The Annual Event takes place on 19 & 20 June 2017, the 19th there will be a networking reception and the 20th will be the main conference day.
The theme of this year’s conference is: “Fruit & Vegetables – healthy and sustainable solutions to Europe’s food challenges”
More information and the registration details can be found here: https://freshfel.org/annual-event/
#FruitVeg4You officially a commitment for the Platform on Diet, Physical Activity and Health
The joint commitment of Freshfel and Copa-Cogeca, representing farmers and agri-cooperatives, has been officially approved as a commitment for the EU Platform on Diet, Physical Activity and Health. Freshfel and Copa-Cogeca presented the commitment during the Plenary meeting of the Platform on 1 June. The aim of the campaign is to raise awareness of fruit and vegetables and to promote the consumption of fresh produce. The commitment and the campaign have been very well received and it has had a good first few months in which the campaign has grown steadily. the two partners want to share all the good examples that already exist from its members, research studies, national or local promotion campaigns, facts and figures about fresh produce as well as creating content. The hashtag used on social media is #FruitVeg4You.
International kiwifruit congress
Together with Zespri Europe and CSO, Freshfel’s General Delegate participated as a speaker to the International Kiwifruit Congress organized in Thessaloniki during the Freshkon fair organized by Froutonea. On this occasion, Freshfel presented the latest production, market and consumption trends for kiwifruit.
Altogether the EU kiwifruit trade is worth more than 1 billion € including 650 million € of intra EU trade, import from third countries worth 280 million € and an export value of 235 million €. Export of European kiwifruit witnessed a remarkable growth of 300 % in the last 10 years. It was also noted that in regard to consumption significant variation are noted among the EU Member States. Italy, Greece, Spain and Belgium are the driving consuming countries with average yearly consumption between 2 to more than 6kg ( in Greece). The EU average is around 1,6 kg, but 23 Member States are at or below this level. Raising the consumption in the EU at this to the 1,6 kg per capita, might stimulate the market by close to 300.000 T.
VBT Annual Event: Export in time of uncertainties
Together with Jonathan Holslag , Professor of International Politics at the Free University of Brussels. , Freshel’s General Delegate, Philippe Binard, participated to a session on future export trends in time of international uncertainties. The presentations were followed by a panel discussion which included as well the Secretary Generals of VBT and Fresh Trade Belgium, as well as a representative of the Belgium Food Safety Agency.
While a strong emphasis still need to be made to stimulate local consumption as well as on other EU Member States, all efforts should be undertaken to diversify the market, address SPS issues and rely on a strong and efficient promotion activities build on the confidence on the quality and safety model of the origin. The uncertainties of the Brexit were also flagged as a point of concerns, as 2/3 of the UK market is supplied by other origins with more than 3 Mio T shipped from the EU-27. The perspective of additional administrative burden, inadequacy of infrastructure at the point of entry into the UK leading to logistics hurdles particularly damaging for perishable products, further depreciation of the pound and possible import duties are some of the detrimental consequences of Brexit for fresh produce.
Busy months for the EuroMix project
Things were busy at the front of EuroMix, the Horizon2020 project that aims to develop test strategies for mixtures of multiple chemicals for risk assessment. Beginning of April, the whole consortium of over 22 partner universities, research centres and sector representatives met in Ljubljana to hold its biannual consortium meeting in order to discuss the ongoing developments within each of the 10 work packages and the events and hurdles for the upcoming 6 months. Freshfel is involved in Work Package 10 which deals with the dissemination of the project results to the larger public. Main topics to be discussed was the state of play on the Stakeholder Survey, that asks for the opinions on the tools and assets developed by the project, and the first Stakeholder Conference, organised in Brussels on 18 May 2017.
The Stakeholder Survey was presented at the Freshfel Food Quality Meeting on 11 May 2017 by University Ghent. The participants to the meeting received information on the project at large and on the specific topics that were dealt with within the survey, which contained 17 questions.
The first Stakeholder Conference took place in the Thon Hotel on 18 May 2017 and was meant to present the state of play of the project to a larger audience. Speakers not only included partners of the project, who explained the current developments of EuroMix, and the European Commission, but also representatives of the stakeholders, such as EFSA, PAN Europe, and BASF. Freshfel coordinated with the other partners in Work Package 10 the organisation of the whole day conference.
EUFRUIT International Expert Meeting
Freshfel was present at the annual International Expert meeting organised with EUFRIN members, within the context of the EUFRUIT project, on 29-30 May 2017 at PCFruit in Sint-Truiden. The Horizon2020 funded projects aims to establish a network of fruit researchers that bundle the efforts being done in terms of research in order to avoid doubling of results, to exchange best practices, and to disseminate the research outcomes to the wider public. While last year’s meeting was an exercise in scanning all the research results of the last 5 years to establish a synthesis of the work being done on a European level, this year the group wants to go a step further: The results should not just be compiled and made available to other researchers, a common message has to be created in order to offer an answer and explication to the many questions that are raised within society about the sustainability of agriculture.
The results of the research compilation will again be posted under the form of a Synthesis report on the Knowledge Platform, where all the research outcomes are collected and publicly available for all (http://kp.eufrin.org/). The common message will be drafted by the group over summer and will be disseminated by Freshfel upon publication.
Progress in Mercosur negotiations: Freshfel reminds MS on the benefits of fresh produce trade
The conclusion of the free trade negotiations with the Mercosur countries Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay is a high priority for the European Commission. Freshfel had the opportunity, next to other representatives of the agri-food industry, to highlight current challenges for the fresh produce trade during an event which had been organised by CELCAA and Copa Cogeca. The debate, titled with “Agricultural Challenges of the Mercosur Trade negotiations”, which took place at the 11th of May 2017, has been attended by more than 50 member states representatives and aimed to brief the audience about potential pitfalls and economic impact on the agricultural industry in the EU. Fresh produce trade to Mercosur countries has been growing in the past years with more than 260.000 T of exports, most of it destined to Brazil. Freshfel Trade Policy Advisor Nelli Hajdu reminded the audience, that in particular the administrative procedures for market access remained high and might be tackled by fixing timing and procedures when it comes to applications for fruit and vegetables in the respective countries.
Freshfel presenting actions on fruit & vegetables in EU Platform on Diet, Physical Activity and Health
Freshfel Europe held two presentations at the EU Platform for Diet, Physical Activity and Health meeting on Thursday 1 June. The Plenary meeting of the Platform this time focused on nutrition and diet. Therefore Freshfel presented on the ‘Where is the Fruit?’ study, as well as on the shared Platform commitment with Copa-Cogeca on promoting fruits and vegetables.
Regarding the Where is the Fruit study, you are invited to look into the previous Headlines, where the study was already discussed. The report mainly outlines that the image and name of fresh fruit is still often being misused by other food sectors. The full press release and report can be found here on the Freshfel’s website. The presentation at the Platform meeting also saw a short discussion afterwards on the outcome of the report.
Furthermore, Freshfel and Copa-Cogeca together presented their new joint commitment on the promotion of fruit and vegetables in Europe, which was appreciated by the Commission as well as other stakeholders at the Platform.
Brexit: Freshfel meets Article 50 task force together with Celcaa
The agricultural trade umbrella organisation Celcaa has organised a first exchange with members of the Article 50 task force, to exchange on the impact of Brexit for the agricultural trade. The meeting gave opportunity, to present a sectorial overview on the current challenges and trade flows at stake. For the fresh produce sector the U.K. is the 3rd largest net-recipient of EU-27 fresh produce trade. In total, it imports 5.6 million T of fruit and vegetables, of which 55% (3.05 million T) originate in EU-27 member states. As fresh produce is highly perishable, it is from outmost importance, to ensure a seamless and smooth trading environment, touching among other upon control and inspection operations, customs procedures and logistics.
Freshfel food and plant safety meeting
Around 40 members of Freshfel met in Brussels to review the latest developments for the sector around food and plant safety matters. The meeting was an opportunity to debate with DG SANTE plant health department about the pending dossiers, including the amendments of the annexes of directive 2000/29 with a particular focus on citrus and tomatoes and also the upcoming reform of the plant health policy. In this respect, a discussion took place on the implementing acts to be adopted in 2018 relating to plant health certificate as well as on the definition and procedure to set up a list of high risk products.
As part of the commitment of Freshfel in the EU funded project Euromix, the group also debated with the University of Ghent on the progress made in regard to the setting up an European strategy for the risk assessment of mixture in case of multiple residues in food.
Finally, the meeting also reviewed the latest development of the food safety legislation in particular regarding actives substances and their MRL, contaminants and biocides. The meeting also reviewed with concerns the ECPA campaign ”with or without pesticides” which unfairly, inadequately and discriminatorily depicts the fruit and vegetables sector.
CoolingEU Platform and launch event coming up
Freshfel is a member of a stakeholder platform in Brussels, dedicated to cooling, called coolingEU. The platform has launched already last year, but has not had a launch event yet. As such, the partners are organising an official launch event in Brussels, for which the registration is now open! The event will take place on 19 June (right before the Freshfel Annual Event dinner in the evening). The platform is also happy to inform you that the European Commission has approved our event and now the coolingEU Launch Event is officially part of EUSEW Energy Days.
You can register here until June 15. More information can be found in the invitation attached.
Commission notice on guidance document on addressing microbiological risks in fresh F&V at primary production through good hygiene
Recently the European Commission has published a Commission notice on guidance document on addressing microbiological risks in fresh F&V at primary production through good hygiene. It is the first European hygiene guidance document suited for the producers of fresh fruit and vegetables. Although, according to the 2014 Zoonosis Monitoring Report, most of verified outbreaks in the EU were not associated with fresh fruit and vegetables, the possible consequences of microbiological contamination of fresh fruits and vegetables cannot be underestimated. Therefore, as precautionary principle, with this guidance, the European Commission seeks to assist growers (regardless of size) at primary production to apply in a correct and uniform way hygiene requirements related to production and handling of fresh fruit and vegetables.
The Commission notice can be found: here