Freshfel Headlines

Freshfel Europe Headlines – Edition 3, 2021 

Freshfel Europe Annual 2021 celebrates 20 years of Association activities

On 4 June close to 250 participants from the fresh produce sector attended Freshfel Europe’s 2021 Annual Event. The event took place on the background of the celebration of 20 years of activities for Freshfel Europe for the benefit of the fresh produce supply chain. The first president of the Association Kai Krasemann and current president Stephan Weist and Freshfel Europe General Delegate Philippe Binard reviewed the highlights of the last two decades of the Association and the challenges and opportunities for the next decade. The meeting also coincided with the celebration of the International Year of Fruit and Vegetables 2021.

Beth Bechdol, FAO Deputy Director General, reviewed the activities marking this particular year for the fruit and vegetables sector and the role of FAO in this respect. DG SANTE Deputy General Delegate Claire Bury and DG AGRI Deputy Director General Michael Scannell exchanged with participants the main policy developments resulting from the European Green Deal, the Farm to Fork Strategy and the CAP reform. These new policies are bound to generate a momentum to stimulate consumption. This positive environment was also confirmed by Austrian food trend expert Hanni Rützler (Future Food Studio). Experts from Rabobank and Santander Group also reviewed the framework of financial support from banks in this evolving environment towards more sustainable production, trade and consumption. On the occasion of the Annual Event, Freshfel Europe released its Annual Activity report that is available online to read here. All information about the Annual Event, including sponsor brochures, is available via the Freshfel Europe website here.

Freshfel Europe & Copa-Cogeca join forces to stimulate debate on benefit of the EU promotion policy

As EU-level debate is launched to consult stakeholders on the future of the EU promotion policy for agriculture products, Freshfel Europe and COPA COGECA hosted a high-level policy meeting on 9 June to stimulate discussion on this important policy. With the participation of European Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski and MEPs Irène Tolleret and Paolo De Castro the political background of the upcoming reform was provided to 250 stakeholders in an online event. During the event, the fruit and vegetables sector’s position was provided by Freshfel Europe General Delegate Philippe Binard and by Bruno Menne for the general perspective for agriculture products on behalf of COPA COGECA. Six promotion projects were also presented to demonstrate the successful outreach of the EU promotion campaigns. The meeting was conducted under the lead of the Chair and Vice Chair of the Civil Dialogue Group on Promotion and Quality, Simona Rubbi and Claire Martin respectively. The EU promotion policy reform is one of the opportunities for the sector to further stimulate the consumption of fruit and vegetables.

Freshfel Europe discusses deceleration of volumes & growing prices for international trade for fresh produce at Annual Trade Meeting

On 20 May Freshfel Europe hosted its Annual Trade Meeting online for members. During the meeting the Freshfel Europe Secretariat provided an evaluation of long and short-term global trade figures for the fresh fruit and vegetables sector with a focus on European exports, imports and intra-EU trade trends. Freshfel Europe members expressed their views and insights, and debated local and global produce and trade conditions as well as the importance for the fresh produce sector to tackle intra-EU and international trade barriers.

During the meeting, Nelli Hajdu, Freshfel Europe Director for Trade & Business Development, provided an analysis of global produce trends, highlighting a positive development for both European and international trade of fresh produce, with global fresh produce trade reaching €100 billion in 2020. In turn, Freshfel Europe Trade & Market Access Director Natalia Santos provided an assessment of European trade flows, which showed a decrease in fresh fruit and vegetables intra-EU trade volumes by 11% compared to 2019 to 29.2 million tonnes, with prices reaching a peak of €1.29 per kilo as a result of strong consumer demand during the crisis. In turn, EU exports outside of the Single Market went down to record low levels to 3.9 million tonnes, although value continued increasing up to €4.6 billion.

Jose Antonio Garcia

Freshfel Europe holds ‘Trade with Neighbours’ webinar with members

On 5 May, the Freshfel Europe Secretariat organized a webinar with members on exports to EU neighbouring countries, where the recent developments, challenges and opportunities of trading with key neighbouring countries were highlighted. Notably, Freshfel Europe Trade & Market Access Director Natalia Santos provided an update of new information and requirements to access the United Kingdom after Brexit. Freshfel Europe’s General Delegate Philippe Binard also outlined the challenges of EU-Russia relations and the ongoing embargo on EU fresh produce exports to this market. In addition, the Secretariat discussed trade trends with key Mediterranean partners, notably Morocco, Algeria and Egypt. As a follow-up and in reaction to current events, the Freshfel Europe Secretariat is seeking clarification over the future of EU-Switzerland trade relations with the European Commission given the recent announcement by Switzerland to unilaterally put an end to negotiations with the EU to update their agreements.

Freshfel Europe teams up with IPCC, Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation & SHAFFE on outreach webinar for global fruit industry on ePhyto

Freshfel European teamed up with the International Plant Protection Convention, the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation and SHAFFE, The Southern Hemisphere Association for Fresh Fruit Exporters, on an outreach webinar on ePhyto with 260 attendees from all over the world. The webinar offered a global stockholder get together with the global fruit sector and National Plant Protection Organisations. The webinar was held twice on the 27 and 31 May 2021, to allow participation from all global time zones and world regions. Together with Ms. Helene Klein, Head of Sector of TRACES, Peter Neimanis from the Australian Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Environment, Kurt Huang representative of Chinese custom agent ‘Fruitease’, Rodrigo Abad Certification Inspector from Senasa, Gerald Asare Mantey from the MOA Ghana and Christian Dellis from Aphis U.S., Freshfel Europe’s Director Trade Policy and SHAFFE Secretary General Nelli Hajdu’s explored the potential opportunities and challenges for the on-boarding to the IPPC ePhyto hub and the global state of play for the digitalisation of electronic phytosanitary certificates in two very interactive sessions.

Freshfel Europe-CIQA online meeting held to discuss respective trading environments during & post-COVID-19 

Freshfel Europe met with the Chinese Inspection and Quarantine Association in a virtual online meeting at the 26 May 2021 to connect to previous physical meetings in the context of the China Fruit and Vegetable Fairs throughout 2016, 2017, 2018 and a counter-visit of CIQA in Brussels in 2019. With the Covid-19 pandemic restricting travel throughout 2020 and 2021, the meeting was dedicated to reconnect and refresh the Associations’ partnership.

Both Associations presented the key features of their actions during the COVID-19 pandemic, the stage of e-commerce development and their perspectives and engagement on sustainability. In regard to the impact of the pandemic, responses from both sides were similar, addressing the changing trade environment and capitalizing on stimulating consumption towards healthier lifestyles and better nutrition with fresh produce. The e-commerce development demonstrated the significant advance of China in online sales to consumers driven by giant online retailers, while Europe is still witnessing quite different and fragmented models at national level. It was agreed to further explore collaboration with CIQA on this matter for the benefit of Freshfel Europe members. The two Associations also exchanged on practices and new approaches towards sustainability and agreed to continue collaborating on this important topic to gain expertise from each other.

Freshfel Europe urges MEPs not to forget ongoing effect of the Russian embargo on fresh fruit & vegetable sector in open letter to AGRI & INTA Committees

On 26 May Freshfel Europe circulated an open letter addressed to the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) in the Agriculture and the International Trade Committees, urging them not to forget the strong and ongoing impact of the now 7-year Russian embargo on the fresh fruits and vegetables sector. In the letter MEPs were asked to continue supporting fruit and vegetables operators in their constant efforts to diversify exports to other markets and to enhance fruit and vegetable consumption on the EU market to offset the loss of the Russian market, formerly the main outlet for EU fresh fruit and vegetables exports. The letter reminded that the European fresh fruits and vegetables has been one of the most impacted sectors by the 2014 Russian agricultural embargo, since the sanctions were worth approximately €7.5 billion out of which €5 billion impacted EU agriculture, with €2.5 billion impacting the fruit and vegetable sector.

Freshfel Europe meets with European Commission to discuss UTP Directive implementation & presents Q&A briefing for members

In the run-up to the transposition of the Unfair Trading Practices Directive, whose deadline for transposition into national legislation was 1 May 2021, the Freshfel Europe Secretariat exchanged with members and liaised with the European Commission in order for members’ questions in relation to the practical implementation of this directive to be answered. As a result, the Secretariat prepared a Question & Answer document answering members’ doubts in relation to a variety of issues, such as periods of cancellations of orders, the definition of the concept of ´date of delivery´, risks associated with the late transposition of the Directive, future penalties to be introduced and the definition of perishable commodities. The Secretariat will now continue to monitor with its members the implementation of the directive and the European Commission’s evaluation of its effectiveness.

Freshfel Europe continues work on environmental footprint

In 2021 Freshfel Europe established a new dedicated Working Group on Environmental Footprint for its members to discuss on a permanent and regular basis sector and developments on environmental footprint and to facilitate increased cooperation and engagement between members on this topic. Since its establishment the Working Group has held monthly meetings under the Chair of Freshfel Europe Director Sustainability & Health Nicola Pisano. Recently the Working Group held two meetings with guest speakers from PréSustainabilty, a leading environmental footprint consultancy working on PEFCR projects with the European Commission, and SIFAV, the Sustainability Initiative Fruit and Vegetables policy (IDH).

EU Code of Conduct development concludes 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. Over the last five months Freshfel Europe has been supporting the drafting of the Code of Conduct along with other prominent EU-level agri-food stakeholders represented by Director Sustainability and Health Nicola Pisano. Ms Pisano has participated on behalf of Freshfel Europe and its members at the European Commission general stakeholder meetings as well as those for the Thematic Session on sustainable and healthy diets to which Freshfel Europe is an appointed member. The Code of Conduct is now in its final drafting stage to be presented at a high level launch event next month and is already open for first signatories.

Freshfel Europe presents feedback to European Commission’s Plant Health/OCR Surveys on the implementation of new regulatory framework

In April 2021 Freshfel Europe was invited by the European Commission to reply to a survey about the implementation and effectiveness of the new EU framework of plant health and official controls, which came into force in December 2019. This important consultation will feed the European Commission’s evaluation over the effectiveness and efficiency of the new regulatory framework, which may lead to amendments in the system being proposed by the end of the year to the EU co-legislators. In this context, Natalia Santos, Freshfel Europe Trade & Market Access Director, coordinated members’ input and positions in the areas of official controls, plant health prohibitions, import procedures and phytosanitary certifications.

Freshfel Europe concerned over Member State legislation on fresh produce stickers without EU harmonisation manifesting trade barriers 

In supporting the fresh produce sector in the use of minimal and more sustainable packaging options for fresh produce, Freshfel Europe has been closely following the development of Member State legislation on fresh produce stickers. Freshfel Europe is strongly supportive of EU legislative and industry moves towards certified industrially and home compostable sticker options. As the most minimal form of functional packaging used in the sector, compostable stickers present a highly sustainable option for fresh fruit and vegetable packaging, where product information provision to operators along the supply chain and consumers is essential; compostable stickers are an optimal packaging solution with high added value. However due to high levels of intra-EU and global trade as well as high use of stickers in the sector, EU harmonisation is key for a successful sustainable packaging transition.

In April Freshfel Europe Director Sustainability & Health Nicola Pisano met with the Flemish government and packaging and waste management stakeholders to provide an EU and global fresh produce perspective on the implementation of Flanders’ legislation banning all fresh fruit and vegetable stickers unless functional, contains legally required information or if the sticker is certified has home compostable as well as the accompanying protocol developments. In May Freshfel Europe also sent a detailed letter to the French Ministry of Agriculture outlining the Association’s concerns about the new French sticker legislation, Article 80 of the AGEC Law due to enter into force on 1 January 2022, banning all stickers on fruit and vegetables except those that are home compostable and partially or wholly composed of bio-based content. Without EU harmonisation both pieces of legislation represent trade barriers.

Freshfel Europe contributes to DG AGRI stakeholder assessment on agricultural e-Commerce in China

The European Commissions’ DG AGRI is currently conducting a broader assessment of B2B e-Commerce endeavours of the agricultural sectors to China, including identifying major hurdles to access the Chinese e-Commerce market. Freshfel Europe has been reporting on the vastly different e-Commerce structures in place as well as the challenging identification and initiation of e-Commerce business partners for the fruit and vegetable sector as major bottlenecks for broader roll out of European fruit and vegetables via the Chinese e-Commerce market. Fruit and vegetable trade to China has been growing throughout the past years up to 67.000 tonnes of exports worth €94 million in 2019. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this trend slowed down. Therefore, Freshfel Europe and its members are continuing to explore the e-Commerce environment in China in order to secure a continuity of trade flows to China in the long-term.

Follow me to be Healthy with Europe: more & more young Europeans take part in the #400gChallenge in its 3rd & final year

The “Follow me to be Healthy with Europe” campaign, launched by Freshfel Europe and Aprifel in 2019 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. 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.

As of June 2021, more than two years after its inception, the #400gChallenge has: generated 55+ million impressions through videos, infographics, tips, and e-influencers; generated 1.36 million video views; reached 1.5 million people; received 153K total likes; been followed by 15.K people and covered by 154 press articles. You can join the #400gChallenge today by following us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and visiting the official website of the campaign.

Freshfel Europe’s #SpeakUp4FruitVeg campaign completes cooperation with Maastricht University

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. With its strong presence on social media (TwitterFacebookLinkedIn), #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, has covered 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.

From February to May, the campaign has received the support of Maastricht University’s PREMIUM Honours Programme. Freshfel Europe welcomed an interdisciplinary team of six motivated masters students who contributed to the creation of #SpeakUp4FruitVeg’s social media posts. During the 4-month cooperation, the students contributed to the creative process behind the campaign posts, including the campaign’s messages and graphics. More information about the #SpeakUp4FruitVeg campaign is available here and all information regarding the 2021 International Year of Fruits and Vegetables is available here.

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