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    Fepex calls for greater protection for producers

    Spain has ramped up pressure on the EU to defend the interests of its fruit and vegetable producers. In a meeting of the Joint Hispano-Franco-Italian Committee on Fruits and Vegetables held in Rome on Tuesday, Fepex laid out a series of demands, including tighter controls on the EU’s Entry Price System, an easing on restrictions on pesticide use and improvements in the EU’s management crisis policy.

    One of the key demands was for the new EU entry price system for fresh fruits and vegetables, due to come into force on 1 October 2014, to be rigorously applied in order to ensure its efficacy. Fepex which was representing the country at the meeting, said the current system was ineffective as it failed to prevent countries such as Morocco from selling large volumes of produce in the EU at prices below the minimum entry price established by the EU-Morocco Association Agreement.

    The new system, which has been fiercely contested by the North African country, is designed to bring greater transparency to imports and prevent countries from avoiding paying import duties.

    Fepex also complained that EU restrictions on the use of a number of pesticides was curtailing the competitiveness of producers and distorting the market. It called for the creation of a phytosanitary working group made up of the plant health authorities in the three countries to study the situation and come up with possible solutions.

    Fepex calls for greater protection for producers

    Peter Glazebrook breaks world record for growing the biggest cauliflower, adding to his onion and potato titles

    The Brit who has already grown the world’s heaviest onion and potato has now added a colossal cauliflower to his record-breaking collection.


    Peter Glazebrook’s latest creation – grown in the East Midlands – is 60lb in weight, and 6ft wide.

    The cauliflower, which is of the Darwin variety, has beaten the previous record by 6lb, and is 20 times heavier than the ones consumers are used to buying in supermarkets.

    Glazebrook, 69, planted the beastly cauliflower last July, and nurtured it in his greenhouse, feeding it calcium nitrate.

    He then switched to a high potash feed once the weather got warmer in March.

    Gazebrook, who has now frozen the vegetable for keeping, told Mail Online: “The weighing was conducted at my home because there were no vegetable shows at this time of year. My previous effort last year was weakened by the long cold snap that hit most of the UK.

    “The exceptionally mild autumn this time has helped me to clinch this record-breaker.”

    Cauli gosh! Brit grows record veg

    Exclusive survey for FPJ Live lifts the lid on shopper attitudes to food waste, supermarkets, GM and much more

    Two-thirds of shoppers are apprehensive about fresh produce waste – but they appear to be underestimating the scale of the problem.

    Exclusive new research by England Marketing, to be revealed at FPJ Live in Solihull on 30 April, indicates that some 66% of consumers are worried about the level of fresh produce that is thrown away either in the home or by supermarkets. Only 25% said they were unconcerned.

    Food waste has shot to the top of the agenda after Tesco revealed last October that a quarter of all the grapes it sells and as much as 40% of apples are thrown away.

    And England Marketing’s research, which covered a large representative sample of consumers and different age groups across the country, suggests shoppers may be underestimating how much is wasted. Asked to estimate how much fresh produce they throw away, 21% said none, 28% said 10% and 15% throw away a fifth.

    A further fifth believe they waste half or more of all the fresh produce they buy.

    Respondents were also asked what they thought should be done with wasted fresh produce. Comments included: ‘Put it into compost bins or in the green bin’; ‘Feed it to animals’; ‘People need to be less neurotic about sell-by/eat-by dates’; ‘It should be used for compost or for gardening’; ‘Give it to food banks’; and ‘Send it to homeless people.’

    Jan England, managing director of England Marketing, said the results showed consumers should “eat with their eyes more” rather than fretting over use-by dates on pack. “There is a lot of confusion over sell-by and use-by dates,” she explained. 

    “People are perceiving produce to have gone bad when it hasn’t and that is leading to higher amounts of waste. And they may be underestimating how much they are wasting.” The food waste results form just one area covered by one of the most extensive pieces of consumer research in the fresh produce category in recent years. The survey also asked shoppers about their attitudes to individual supermarkets, price promotions, migrant labour, packaging, GM and much more.

    Two-thirds of consumers are concerned about waste

    Freshuelva urging producers to destroy fruit rather than sell it at below-cost prices

    Spanish strawberry producers are facing another disastrous season, with many being forced to discard fruit and dismantle farms two months before the end of the season due to plummeting prices, according to Huelvan grower-exporter association Freshuelva.

    The organisation’s president, Alberto Garrocho, told F&H Hoy that the season so far had been worse than last year which was itself one of the worst in recent years. “Two weeks ago, prices were down 20% on 2013, but now it is closer to 40% ,” he said.

    With prices barely reaching €0.30 per kg – well below the cost of production – Freshuelva is advising growers to take the necessary course of action to ensure that losses are kept to a minimum. However, Garrocho claimed businesses had a responsibility to destroy fruit rather than marketing it at below-cost prices, which would have negative repercussions for the entire industry.

    Garrocho claimed that the collapse in prices had led to a “significantly high volume” of fruit being thrown away and many producers opting to take down farms in order to save on the cost of labour and harvesting.

    Growers in the province of Huelva, where around 96% of Spain’s strawberry production is concentrated, were banking on a positive 2014 campaign to make up for the poor returns they received last year. In 2013 the sector saw a 10 per cent fall in output and 20% drop in prices compare with the previous year, ending the campaign with a production total of 274,800 tonnes and sales of €315m. In spite of the poor season, Huelva’s strawberry acreage increased by 2% this year to 6,980ha.

    Garrocho pointed out that although a small proportion of discarded fruit is being used for processing, the factories are unable to deal with the high volume currently available and the bulk is therefore going to waste.

    Price collapse hits Huelva’s strawberry producers

    Suppliers and retailers heading for European Vegetable Strategies in Brussels as fall in consumption raises concerns

    European Vegetable Strategies, the region’s first ever conference and networking event dedicated to the fresh vegetable business, will attempt to identify new ways to boost demand and improve the range of products and merchandising found in the EU fresh vegetable sector.

    The event, which takes place in Brussels on 4-5 June, has been organised by Eurofruit, Fruchthandel and Fresh Produce Journal (FPJ) in response to a growing need for ideas, information and insight within the European vegetable sector.

    Vegetables are a key part of the European fresh produce market, with around 40m tonnes worth approximately €250m produced every year in the EU, yet consumption of fresh vegetables in the region continues to decline.

    “Changing this trend is a major challenge for all of us,” commented Chris White, managing director of Eurofruit. “With European Vegetable Strategies, we want to develop new and innovative marketing solutions that will boost demand for fresh vegetables.”

    The congress, which includes a one-day conference on 5 June, will be tailored precisely to the vegetable sector, according to Fruchthandel’s Kaasten Reh.

    “Experts from all parts of the supply chain, from production to the European retail sector, will analyse the market and discuss innovations and ideas that could give the business an additional boost,” he explained.

    Programme highlights include:

    • Innovation – new ideas to boost sales
    • Consumption in Europe – figures, trends, facts
    • The vegetable market in Europe – challenges and opportunities
    • Tomatoes – varieties, presentation, packaging
    • Convenience – potential for growth
    • New media – which channels work best?
    • Sustainability – optimising processes, cutting costs

    In addition to plenary and break-out sessions, the organisers also plan to give delegates the option of joining study tours to a fresh vegetable production and marketing facility in the greater Brussels area, as well as to retail centres to focus on how fresh vegetables and salads are merchandised and marketed to shoppers.

    During the evening of 4 April, there will be an informal get-together for all delegates, speakers and guests at De Ultieme Hallucinatie, a beautiful Art Nouveau-style brasserie-restaurant in the centre of Brussels – a unique opportunity to meet and network with leading players in the European vegetable business.

    “We are expecting delegates from across the entire value chain to be in Brussels, from seed suppliers to retailers,” added Reh. “The event will provide the right environment to develop new strategies for fresh vegetable production, trade and marketing with some of the most important market partners at an international level.”

    European veg event to offer new ideas

    New water and waste initiatives lead to Branston becoming the first firm in the food sector to get a trio of Carbon Trust honours

    The UK’s leading supplier of potatoes has just been awarded the Carbon Trust Waste Standard by the Carbon Trust, making it the first company in the food and agriculture sector to have achieved the standard in all three areas: carbon, water and waste.

    In 2008, Branston became the first company in the food and agriculture sector to be awarded the Carbon Trust Standard. It has since been reaccredited, affirming its commitment to focus on long-term sustainability and continuous improvement.

    The latest accreditation from the Carbon Trust is in waste management, and Branston was the first company in its sector to receive it, thanks to small-scale waste reduction programmes for staff, and larger initiatives including utilising waste on site. Waste wood is used to fuel a biomass boiler, and outgrade potatoes generate electricity in the anaerobic digestion plant at the Lincoln site.

    2013 saw Branston take part in the pilot of the Carbon Trust Water Standard, and it was one of the first four companies to be awarded the new standard. Its water recycling facilities at both the Lincoln and South West sites enable the company to recycle over 60 per cent of its water, as well as reducing the quantity and improving the quality of the effluent leaving the sites.

    Vidyanath Gururajan, projects director, is responsible for building sustainability into all Branston’s developments. He said: “We’re delighted to have received the latest standard from the Carbon Trust. We’re proud of our extensive environmental management systems and we do everything we can, at all our sites, to reduce waste. It’s all part of our commitment to our low cost = low carbon strategy, looking after all our resources to improve long-term sustainability.

    “The Carbon Trust undertook an extremely thorough assessment of our waste management processes and our achievement of the Carbon Trust Waste Standard gives us reassurance that we’re continuing to make good progress.”

    The Carbon Trust is an independent company aimed at accelerating the move to a sustainable, low carbon economy. It provides guidance and advice as well as measuring and certifying a company’s environmental footprint.

    Carbon first for potato giant

    A European Union official has announced plans to visit Morocco on April 23, following outrage in the North African nation over slated EU rules that would restrict produce exporters’ abilities to sell on consignment.

    The new rules would give the European Commission the power to calculate fixed import values, as part of a change to the Entry Price System for Fruits and Vegetables that was agreed upon by the European Parliament on April 7, and put to discussion Monday by the Council of Europe. Tomatoes

    The Maghreb Arab Press (MAP) has reported the European Union Director General of Agriculture and Rural Development, Jerzy Plewa, has expressed his readiness to follow up on technical level discussions relating to the amendment.

    Morocco’s Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Aziz Akhannouch, told the agency the decision to modify access price mechanisms for Moroccan fruits and vegetables in the EU was both “astonishing and incomprehensible”.

    “Moving to modify the access price system for Moroccan fruits and vegetables is a step backward on the negotiations that mobilized for a long period of time Moroccan and European officials,” Akhannouch was quoted as saying.

    “We were satisfied over the fairness and balance of the agreement [signed in February, 2012 between Morocco and the EU]. But this measure risks to disrupt the balance, because of an action that totally contradicts the agreed upon conditions.”

    Agricultural consultant Hassan Benabderrazik told the new measures required exporters to use a “standard import value” for their produce, which would often be well below entry prices; a fact that would effectively penalize growers of high quality products like cherry tomatoes.

    The consultant calculated the measure would immediately affect the tomato industry, with 30-50% of exports penalized by the new rules.

    Akhannouch told MAP a relationship of confidence and sustainable partnership was being jeopardized, and that the move was a particular threat to Morocco’s tomato growers whose system was at risk of collapse under the new rules.

    “We cannot even imagine the consequences on a Moroccan sector and operators which have invested and believed in serious outlets for fruits and vegetables,” he was quoted as saying.

    Moroccan counterparts to meet EU official over produce pricing backflip

    New study claims greater collaboration from different parts of the supply chain is vital to deal with new challenges facing the industry.

    A new reports claims Peru’s asparagus export industry needs to rethink its strategic approach if it is to maintain its position as the world’s leading export nation.

    The research, by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (Cepal) warned that if it wishes to stay ahead of the competition, Peru requires a more strategic approach to exports and better access to information.

    “The dynamics of a global market, competition from Mexico, rising logistics costs, exchange rate variations and lack of cohesion between the policies of the various export companies all point to the need to take more frequent and better decisions, so fast and accurate information is crucial,” the report said.

    The report also suggests that climate change will play a significantly more important role in the industry, impacting on production zones and the main consumer markets alike. Water scarcity in Peru’s main production zones will also limit the future growth of the industry, the study predicted.

    It said that while a number of institutions within Peru are working to develop technical innovations that would alleviate the impact of climate change, they are “working in isolation, without realising the importance of involving the entire supply chain”. It called for greater collaboration between the public and private sectors, highlighting the work undertaken by the Peruvian Institute for Asparagus and other bodies as successful examples of public-private partnership within the industry.

    Peru was the world’s biggest exporter of fresh asparagus in the period between 2008 and 2012. However, the report warned that Mexico is playing an increasingly important role as a supplier to key markets including the UK, Spain, and the Netherlands during the first half of the year.

    Peruvian asparagus growers urged to unite

    Ambitious move comes as retailer looks to ‘consolidate position as number one in the competitive convenience market’

    The Co-operative is to open 54 shops on pub sites over the next 2 years as it looks to step up expansion of its 2,000-strong convenience store estate.

    Most of the new stores will be built on car parks and other land next to the actual pubs, with the rest coming from converted pubs.

    Fresh Products Vacancies

    The move will help the retailer grow its estate by 150 in each of the next five years, and involves around a quarter of the 202 pub sites that retail property group New River bought from brewer Marston’s in November for £90 million.

    Most of the sites are located in central, eastern and northern England, and the first shop is set to open its doors early next year.

    Each store will be between 3,000 sq ft and 4,500 sq ft, with almost 200,000 sq ft of new retail space set to be developed in total.

    Steve Murrells, chief executive of The Co-op’s retail division, said: “Our focus is on convenience stores and a move away from larger stores, as we look to highlight our strengths and consolidate our position as number one in the competitive convenience market.”

    The Co-op in pubs to shops move
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