News digest: Agri-food markets & production


World of Fresh Ideas

On 26-27 May, Fruitnet will be live and online to host “World of Fresh Ideas”, a learning and networking event for the global fresh fruit and vegetable business. Four programme tracks offer talks, interviews and interactive discussions with experts from across the international fresh produce business. Organised by Fruitnet in cooperation with Fruit Logistica, the event is aimed at suppliers, distributors, buyers and service providers in the fresh produce trade.

Source: World of Fresh Ideas (Fruitnet)

Climate change impact on global farming productivity is more severe in ACP regions

A new study published in Nature Climate Change finds that despite important agricultural advances to feed the world in the past 60 years, global farming productivity is 21% lower than it could have been without climate change. This is the equivalent of losing about 7 years of farm productivity increases since the 1960s. The effect is substantially more severe (a reduction of 26–34%) in warmer regions such as Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean. The study also finds that global agriculture has grown more vulnerable to ongoing climate change.

Source: Nature Climate Change, 1 April

Global pineapple market

In European countries, pineapple sales are going well. Many countries are still missing the demand from the hospitality industry, but the limited supply is keeping the market in balance, for example in the Netherlands, Belgium and Italy. In Germany, market conditions are difficult due to a shortage of air freight – the bulk of supply currently comes from Costa Rica, and pineapples from West Africa are only arriving in limited volumes, which means that prices for average sizes are somewhat higher. Spain is currently importing pineapples from Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic and Kenya – usually there is a slight increase in demand during Easter, but this year the impact of Covid-19 on catering resulted in consumption increasing hardly at all. So far this year, demand for green pineapples has remained fairly stable, especially for the top brands. There is more demand for well-colored pineapples, where prices have remained fairly strong and stable in recent weeks, reaching selling prices of up to €15/16 per box, partly due to the limited volume on the market in the first part of the year. Volumes are now gradually recovering and prices are stabilising. Demand for air-shipped pineapples continues to rise, although high prices and volume constraints are slowing this growth somewhat. It looks like volumes will start to recover in the next few weeks. No quality problems have been reported so far.

Source: Fresh Plaza, 2 April

Global tomato market

In the Netherlands and Belgium, unlighted tomato production is under way. Around Easter prices were still at a high level, but increasing volumes may start to put pressure on the market. Italy also had a good week. There has been a great demand for tomatoes, especially from Germany. The Spanish season is coming to a close within 6 weeks and, in general, prices have been on the low side. South Africa is dealing with shortages due to the impact of heavy rains in January and February, with increased pressure from pests (growers cannot get to the field to spray), more spoilage and poor fruit set. The shortage is expected to continue throughout April. Specialty tomatoes increasingly popular among Chinese consumers, and the use of high-end techniques for growing tomatoes has become more common in China. High-quality tomato varieties with a high nutritional value are enjoying greater popularity among consumers, such as the purple Yoom tomato and some varieties of cherry tomatoes.

Source: Fresh Plaza, 9 April

“Sprout”: Innovative sustainable packaging

Recently there have been many improvements in sustainable packaging to promote healthy eating and sustainable living. In Thailand, “Sprout” packaging has entered the market. This innovative concept is an environmentally friendly package that aims to make the planet literally greener – it contains seeds that encourage consumers to grow native plants. The “Sprout” packaging – for example for a cereal bar – is made from pineapple leaves, making it 100% biodegradable. Seeds are embedded in the “Pinyapel” material, which encourages consumers to plant the packaging after use. This allows them to grow plants in the unit before transferring them to the soil.

Source: Fresh Plaza, 16 March

FeedUp@UN brings “invisible” food back into the food cycle

FeedUp@UN was presented at a workshop of Germany’s Federal Agency for Agriculture and Food (BLE). With this tool, developed by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the UN Office of Information and Communications Technology (OICT), it is possible to offer fruit and vegetables that are not for sale on the fresh market (e.g. due to occasional oversupply of the market, sizes, varieties or qualities not desired on the market). The platform brings “invisible” food back into the food cycle and enables new regional contacts. Via FeedUp@UN, food losses can be recorded for the first time, but successes in avoiding these losses can also be recorded. The app can also calculate the contribution to environmental protection made by the actual use of the food. Certification of participants who have succeeded in making savings is also in preparation.

Source: Fruchthandel, 29 March


Africa: Climate change could cause 15% drop in GDP in 10 years

According to the Economic Commission for Africa, the increasing frequency of natural disasters as well as the costs of adapting to climate change, could cause Africa’s GDP to fall by 15% by 2030. The report “Africa’s Adaptation Gap”, published by the World Food Programme, recalls that a warming of 2°C (the target of the Paris climate agreement) would lead to a 10% reduction in total agricultural yield on the continent by 2050. With warming above 2°C, yield reductions could reach 15–20%.

Source: La Veille Agricole, 15 March

Cashew: Africa to consolidate global position in production

The African Cashew Alliance (ACA) is optimistic in its projections for the year 2021 for cashew. Its director general, Ernest Mintah, estimates that cashew production in Africa in 2021 should be higher than the 2.1 million tonnes (Mt) achieved in 2020 and thus Africa will retain its position as the world’s leading producer. In particular, the good dynamics initiated in recent years in West Africa will persist with an estimated production of between 1.6 and 1.8 Mt in 2021. For Côte d’Ivoire, the ACA expects production to reach 900,000 tonnes, i.e. 100,000 tonnes more than in 2020.

Source: Commodafrica, 29 March

Ghana-Burkina: Railway interconnection

At the end of March 2021, the transport ministers of Burkina Faso and Ghana announced the start of the railway interconnection project, which is scheduled for 2022. Over a distance of 1102 km, of which 320 km are in Burkina Faso and 782 km in Ghana (from the port of Téma to the border town of Paga), the line should allow future trains to travel at 160 km/h for passengers and 120 km/h for goods. Annual traffic is estimated at 2 to 3 million passengers and 7 to 17 million tonnes of goods. This future line will provide Burkina Faso with a second access to the sea after the Ouagadougou/Abidjan line.

Source: Commodafrica, 26 March

Food prices in West Africa have soared by 40%

The international community is alarmed at the soaring food prices in West Africa. UN Info has echoed an appeal by the World Food Programme (WFP) to “avert a food catastrophe” in West and Central Africa. More than 31 million people in the region are expected to become food insecure, a figure more than 30% higher than last year and the highest in 10 years. Acute food insecurity affects 23% of the population (1.8 million people), compared to only 2% in 2019. Food prices are rising across the West African region: compared to the average over the past five years, prices of local products have increased by almost 40%. In some areas, prices have risen by more than 200%. According to WFP, this is partly due to the economic impact of measures put in place to contain the spread of the coronavirus over the past year. The UN agency points to the decline in people’s incomes due to the reduction in commercial, tourism and informal activities as well as remittances from the diaspora.

Source: Commodafrica, 19 April

West and Central Africa: banana exports to EU decline in 2020

In 2020, the EU imported around 600,000 tonnes of bananas from Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana (–3% compared to 2019). This decline is due to the Covid-19 crisis, but also to climate problems at the beginning of the year, which limitd supply. However, regional markets offer new alternatives in the context of the pandemic. Côte d’Ivoire has been able to seize opportunities by developing its exports to Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal.

Source: Commodafrica, 3 March

Locusts show how we can crowdsource with artificial intelligence

In response to the East African locust outbreak in 2019, an existing mobile tool developed by Plant Village, used by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to track fall armyworm, was used as the blueprint for a new app, eLocust3m. The app presents photos of locusts at different stages of their life cycles, which helps users diagnose what they see in the field. GPS coordinates are automatically recorded, and algorithms double-check photos submitted with each entry. In the past year, more than 240,000 locust records have poured in from East Africa, collected by PlantVillage scouts, government-trained personnel and citizens. 51 Degrees, a security and logistics company focused on protecting wildlife, joined forces to customise for locusts a version of its EarthRanger tracking software, integrating data from the eLocust programs and the computer loggers on aerial pesticide sprayers. In February alone, locust-patrolling pilots in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia flew the equivalent of three times the circumference of the globe, spraying swarms before they had time to mature, stopping the insects from multiplying and spreading into Uganda and South Sudan as they did last year. Since February 2020, the FAO estimates that this effort in East Africa has averted the loss of agricultural products with a commercial value of $1.5 billion — saving the livelihoods of 34 million people, and offering potential to tackle other climate-related disasters.

Source: New York Times, 8 April

Kenya: Locust outbreak may be coming to an end

This year the delayed spring rains in East Africa could be beneficial. The Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN (FAO) reports that “The current upsurge showed signs of significant decline during March as desert locust swarms continued to decrease in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia due to ongoing control operations and poor rainfall. […] Below-normal rainfall expected this spring would limit breeding to parts of northern Kenya and southern Ethiopia at a much lower scale than last year. If this is followed by poor rainfall this summer in northeast Ethiopia, then the desert locust situation should return to normal.” The Horn of Africa has been experiencing its worst locust crisis in more than 25 years. The current locust upsurge began in 2018 with a heavy impact in 2019, and a second wave hit Kenya in November 2020.

Source: Fresh Plaza, 9 April

South Africa: new avocado export season

Avocado production for the 2020/2021 season is forecast at 130,000 tonnes. The Hass variety accounts for 80% of plantings. Between 14,000 and 15,000 hectares of avocados are already planted, and about 800 hectares are added each year. The majority of orchards are located in the north of South Africa: Limpopo (58%), Mpumalanga (42%) and KwaZulu-Natal (14%) provinces. Cape Province accounts for 4% of the area. According to USDA, exports are forecast at 51,000 t (+8%). Europe remains the main market (92%) but South Africa is making efforts to access the markets of the United States, Japan, India and China. It also plans to increase its export volumes to the Middle East.

Source: Fruchthandel, 26 February

Cabo Verde: Indigenous beans could boost food security

A paper published in the journal ‘Foods’ describes how legumes could help prevent and combat food insecurity in Cabo Verde. Dry beans are low cost, low fat, low cholesterol and low maintenance – balanced with high macro and micronutrient content, high fibre, high versatility and very long shelf life. Pulses occupy most of the agricultural area of Cabo Verde and are highly traded in national markets. A checklist of legumes used as food will help to design new strategies and investments to conserve the agronomic value and plant genetic resources of these crops. With just over half a million inhabitants, Cabo Verde is heavily dependent on food imports, spending $65 million on importing food products in 2018.

Source: The Conversation, 10 March

Côte d’Ivoire: Conditions for marketing mango

As the opening of the mango marketing campaign in Côte d’Ivoire will start on 5 April, the Ivorian inter-professional mango organisation, Inter-Mangue, has set the selling prices. The price per box on the field is 2,400 CFA francs, compared to 2,350 CFA francs in 2019. The price per kilo of mango at the factory will be 200 CFA francs, compared to 195 CFA francs during the previous season.

Source: Commodafrica, 24 March

Ghana: Supermarkets sell only 26% local goods

According to a report by international advisory firm Konfidants, in 2020 only 26% of consumable goods sold in Ghana’s leading supermarkets were produced in-country. But while only a small percentage of processed/manufactured goods were Made-In-Ghana (23%), unprocessed goods had a Made-In-Ghana share of 40%. And a large percentage of unprocessed Made-in-Ghana goods (84%) had been either pre-cut or packaged, a step in the right direction of value addition. The 26% shelf space for Made-in-Ghana products is an improvement on 18% in 2019.

Source: Modern Ghana, 15 March 2021

Kenya: Calls for mark of origin on horticultural exports

The Horticulture Directorate is seeking to include the mark of origin on Kenyan horticultural exports in a branding venture. Assistant Director of Regulation and Compliance Wilfred Yako said that Kenyan avocado, flowers and mango exported to the Middle East are repackaged and resold on European markets at a premium, with Kenyan farmers missing out on additional income. Yako said “We are in the process of introducing a stamp of origin in the 2020 horticulture bill before it is passed into law, and this will ensure all products from Kenyan quality goods can be identified with the country in a branding exercise.” But he noted that this will need a multisector approach to curb re-exporting of Kenya’s fruit to other countries.

Source: Kenya News Agency, 10 March

Kenya: avocado exports increased in 2020

In 2020, Kenya’s avocado exports recorded 72,000 tons (+22%, 59,000 tonnes in 2019). Europe still represents the main outlet for Kenyan avocados but some shipments are already exported to China. Kenya restricts exports of avocado between November and January every year in order to maintain the quality of avocados to prevent premature harvesting.

Source: Fresh Plaza, 14 April

Kenya: Carrefour announces record sales in 2020

Carrefour has confirmed a breakthrough in the Kenyan market in 2020. After an excellent year in 2019, the French group achieved a record turnover of KES 25.3bn (US$230 million) in 2020, an annual increase of 30%. This growth is accompanied by the opening of several shops and the development of online commerce. Operating in Kenya since 2016, Carrefour now has more than 11 shops and is establishing itself in the retail sector alongside Naivas, Quick Mart and Chandara FoodPlus.

Source: La Veille Agricole, 22 March

Kenya: Bill to recognise coconut and cashew as cash crops

A bill has just been adopted by the National Assembly and submitted to the President of the Republic for approval to recognise coconut and cashew as “cash crops” following the example of coffee, tea and sugar cane recognised as such in the Crops Act, 2013.This recognition would allow these 2 sectors to have public support to ensure their revival and development, to prescribe the modalities and deadlines for payments to farmers, to encourage the establishment of contracts between farmers and processors, and to encourage processing and creation of added value before export.

Source: La Veille Agricole, 22 March

Kenya: A digital platform for certification and licensing of plant products

The licensing process for the export and import of agricultural products between Kenya and East African countries will now be facilitated by the introduction of a new digital system developed by the Agricultural Transformation Agency (AFA) and TradeMark East Africa (TMEA), and funded by the Danish government. Exporters and importers will now have to register with AFA on the AFA-Integrated Management Information System (AFA-IMIS). This platform, which also has an integrated payment platform, aims to facilitate the certification and licensing process for the export trade in plant crops (including horticulture and flowers) and to halve processing times (currently 30 days).

Source: La Veille Agricole, 22 March

Madagascar – Provision of digital crop calendars

To cope with the impacts of climate change on crop calendars, a project implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Research, and the Ministry of Meteorology, in collaboration with the company Socake Viamo, with funding from GIZ, has made it possible, to set up digital crop calendars that are available via a hotline and accessible to farmers in the island’s 22 regions. Through this project, farmers can access information on climate forecasts, crop varieties and good agricultural practices.

Source: La Veille Agricole, 8 March

Mauritius: Agricultural production of several products increased in 2020

According to the annual report of Statistics Mauritius, published on 15 March, agricultural performances have globally decreased during the year 2020 in a context of crisis.Nevertheless, several products have seen an increase in production, such as potatoes, whose tonnage has increased by 7% compared to 2019 (from 14,822 to 15,828 tonnes). This is also the case for pineapples (+13%), bananas (+17%), cabbage (+25%), aubergines (+3%) and chillies (+28%). However, sugar production (the main agricultural activity) on the island fell by 18%.

Source: La Veille Agricole, 22 March

Namibia: drop in agricultural production in 2020

In 2020, Namibia’s agricultural production dropped to 2016 production levels. The Namibia Agricultural Union produces data showing that almost every sector recorded a reduction in output, except for grapes. The biggest losses are seen in the livestock sector, as droughts have ravaged herds.

Source: Fresh Plaza, 31 March

New funding for Nigeria’s Pricepally e-platform

Nigerian digital food co-operative platform Pricepally has raised pre-seed funding from Asia-based VC Samurai Incubate and early stage venture capital fund Launch Africa Ventures. Founded in 2019, Pricepally has created a group buying platform that aggregates consumer food demand and matches it directly with supplies from farmers and wholesalers. In this way, it cuts out the middleman, saving consumers money by applying technology to aggregate demand via a sharing model. Over the past 12 months, Pricepally has grown significantly with a threefold increase in sales.

Source: Commodafrica, 8 April

Rwanda: increasing cassava production

Cassava is the second most grown crop after banana in terms of cultivated area and the fourth most consumed staple crop. The authorities plan to scale up new disease-resistant cassava varieties in order to plant 200,000 ha. The Roots and Tubers Programme and cassava breeders at Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resource Development Board plan to increase cassava yields from 15 t /ha (traditional seeds) to 35 t/ha with clean cassava seed. The objective is to improve production from 3 million to 8 million tonnes of cassava per year by scaling up new varieties and using fertilisers. Eight new varieties will be deployed across the country through seed multipliers.

Source: Fresh Plaza, 13 April

Rwanda: Export of dried red pepper to China opens

After 2 years of negotiations, the Rwandan government signed a protocol with the Chinese General Administration of Customs on 11 March, certifying the conformity of the product to Chinese phytosanitary requirements. This agreement should enable Rwandan players to take advantage of the world’s largest chilli market, with more than 500 million daily consumers. Dried chilli pepper joins chilli paste and chilli oil in the list of exportable products to China.

Source: La Veille Agricole, 15 March

South Africa: Potential for organic sweet potatoes

Q-Cape in the Netherlands is starting to import organic sweet potatoes from South Africa, following the company’s successful experience with organic pumpkins. Q-Cape expects to import over 1500 tons of organic sweet potatoes this season. Leo Stoker of Q-Cape says “Covid-19 has increased consumers’ awareness of their diets. That’s drawn even more attention to organic products. The conventional sweet potatoes market is already huge. Organic sweet potatoes have enormous potential too.”

Source: Fresh Plaza, 24 March

Tanzania: Cassa production increasing

The cassava production in Tanzania increased from 6 to 8 million tons between 2018 and 2019. In spite of this result, the demand from local and outside markets is high. For instance, China demand for dry cassava is more than 2 million tonnes (equivalent of 6 million tonnes of fresh cassava a year). The Ministry of Agriculture would like to increase the volume by improved seeds materials and technologies application. Other factors are also limiting volumes: unreliable climatic conditions and presence of diseases.

Source: Fresh Plaza, 31 March

Togo: Increase in container traffic

The Port Autonome de Lomé (PAL) has announced an increase in container traffic of almost 13% between 2019 and 2020. PAL serves landlocked countries such as Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. In addition, the port also offers fully dematerialised cargo collection procedures with online bill payment facilities.

Source: Commodafrica, 8 March

Zimbabwe: mushroom production is growing

Mushroom farming is gaining popularity at a time when the coronavirus pandemic in Zimbabwe has left many people jobless. More and more people are turning their backyards into smart farmhouses, growing mushrooms. Emerging mushroom farmers in Zimbabwe’s cities help supply the affordable nutritional needs of their countrymen. But buyers often underprice these products, and government agricultural officers are sceptical of whether urban mushroom farming can supply the distinctive growing conditions required. And there is stiff competition from supplies of wild mushrooms, which can’t be quantified.

Source: Fresh Plaza, 23 February


St Vincent: volcano eruption

La Soufriere volcano in the north of St Vincent erupted on 9 April. Several days before, the authorities evacuated 16,000 habitants living around the volcano. The volcano has been producing huge quantities of ash into the atmosphere, covering all the north of the island, with impacts on Barbados as well. Deputy Prime Minister Mr Montgomery Daniel announced that the agriculture sector is now non-existent on the eastern side of the La Soufrière volcano. Farms and many tree crops (plantains, bananas, breadfruit, coconuts, mangoes, soursop) have been destroyed. The root crops (arrowroot, yams, dasheen ginger) have been lost.

Source: Fresh Plaza, 13 April

Caribbean Development Bank supports sweet potato project

The Caribbean Development Bank will support production, processing and marketing of sweet potatoes in the region through a US$600,000 grant to the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI). The project will include market research and field research, including on climate-resilent varieties and genotypes, and suitability for processing. The aim is to catalyse more strategic investment in the industry via technology transfer to accelerate modernisation.

Source: Fresh Plaza, 5 April

Caribbean: New AgriExt App launched

The Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) has introduced a new app – AgriExt – designed to improve agricultural production in the Caribbean by providing real-time information on such things as crop management. The app was created by IICA, together with ministries of agriculture in the Caribbean and the agricultural extension organisations in three countries, to support agricultural producers, ministries and extension services across CARICOM. The app allows farmers to have real-time access to technical information and solutions, contributing to better production planning, greater yields, improved productivity, and better understanding of market needs and requirements.

Source: Barbados Advocate, 29 March

Caribbean: New T4SD Hub

The International Trade Centre (ITC) in collaboration with the Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) has announced the launch of the Caribbean Trade for Sustainable Development (T4SD) Hub, the latest in its network to help MSMEs to develop green and viable business models. The Caribbean Hub will be hosted by Caribbean Export, which joins a global network of T4SD Hubs established with local institutions (in Ghana, Kenya, Laos, Nepal, Peru and Viet Nam) to strengthen the competitiveness of MSMEs by implementing green business practices. The Hub will offer blended learning activities, including e-learning, webinars and customised face-to-face coaching sessions that incorporate ITC’s existing tools and services, and provide guidance to MSMEs on ways to integrate sustainable practices into their core business models.

Source: ITC press release, 1 March

Food safety initiative for Jamaica and Caribbean

A programme expected to lead to greater food safety in Jamaica and throughout the Caribbean was recently launched at the Bureau of Standards Jamaica. Funded by the European Union and managed by the Caribbean Development Bank, the initiative – Certification Services by the National Certification Body of Jamaica (NCBJ) – will build capacity at the NCBJ to offer globally accepted testing and certification support in food safety management. It will also build local capacity to supervise existing food safety systems to maintain compliance with export requirements, and is expected to open doors for MSMEs in CARICOM and ease their navigation of trade barriers. The EU Ambassador to Jamaica, Marianne Van Steen, has also encouraged businesses to do more to ensure access to the myriad opportunities available through trade with Europe and within the region, noting that the EU is committed to strengthening the region’s capabilities in order to leverage the Economic Partnership Agreement.

Source: The Gleaner, 20 March

Saint Lucia: Government aims for more resilient agricultural sector

The Government of Saint Lucia is committed to building the resilience of the national agricultural sector. In response to climate change and the importance of water storage, it is donating 190 tanks to farmers to ensure the sustainability of their businesses. This initiative is also aimed at young farmers.

Source: Fresh Plaza, 26 March

Export Saint Lucia trademarks “Taste of Saint Lucia” brand

The Government of Saint Lucia has announced through Export Saint Lucia that it has completed the registration of its trademark, Taste of Saint Lucia™, with the Saint Lucian Registry of Companies and Intellectual Property. The trademark currently covers Export Saint Lucia’s primary sectors: agriculture, food and beverages, agro-processing and fashion. Export Saint Lucia first launched the Taste of Saint Lucia brand in 2018 to focus on commanding visibility and increased market share for Saint Lucian products in growing export markets.

Source: The Voice, 24 March 2021

The first container of Cuban pineapples is on its way to Europe

Cuba is committed to strengthening the pineapple production chain for the export market, investing both in the expansion of the crop’s cultivation (with Ciego de Avila standing out as the main pineapple-producing province) and in varietal diversification, recovering old cultivars and introducing new varieties. Now, the so-called “queen of fruits” in the Antillean island is already on its way to Europe by sea thanks to Gen Group, a Spanish company with extensive experience in the production and marketing of a wide range of fruits and vegetables.

Source: Fresh Plaza, 19 March

EU allows entry of Colombian mangoes

ICA (Instituto Colombiano Agropecuario) has announced that Colombian mangoes will be exported to the European Union market. After verifying compliance with the requirements agreed with the EU, ICA said that 18 mango farms located in Magdalena, Cesar, Antioquia and Valle del Cauca have been authorised. The institute has also indicated that two factories have been authorised to pack the fruit for export. Mango export volumes in Magdalena department continue to increase. They have increased from 200 tonnes in 2018 to 500 tonnes in 2019 and then 1,000 tonnes in 2020, which means an annual increase of 33%, according to Procolombia.

Source: Fructidor, 2 April

Port International launches zero-carbon banana

Port International has launched a certified fair trade, organic and carbon neutral banana under the brand name Be Climate in Delhaize supermarkets in Belgium. The sources of supply are Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and the Dominican Republic. Port International calculates the carbon dioxide emissions along the value chain from the place of production to the point of sale, which are then offset by climate protection projects. The company also markets green asparagus, leafy clementines, strawberries and blueberries under the Be Climate brand.

Source: Commodafrica, 24 March


Tonga: Data platform for Nishi Trading growers

Tongan company Nishi Trading and its growers will benefit from the AgWorld data management ecosystem for farm planning, budgeting, compliance, agronomy, logistics and grower services, among other functions. AgWorld is used by growers, agronomists, retailers, and anyone providing a service to crop growers. Nishi Trading is supporting farmers trialing the software and is proposing the purchase of an enterprise subscription for all its registered farmers. The platform training is funded by the Farmers’ Organizations for Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (FO4ACP) programme, a joint partnership between the European Union; Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS); and the Pacific Island Farmers Organisation Network (PIFON).

Source: PIFON News, 3 March


Apeda blockchain solution to aid EU importers

The Indian Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (Apeda) announces thta it plans to aid EU importers by tracking all details of grape consignments exported from India to EU markets through a blockhain system integrated into its GrapeNet traceability platform.

Source: Fresh Plaza, 1 April

EUFIC launches Europe-wide interactive fruit and vegetables map

The European Food Information Council (EUFIC) has launched the first-ever Europe-wide fruit and vegetables seasonality interactive map. The tool combines data from established national sources and features over 200 seasonal fruits and vegetables, covers 24 countries, and includes the six European climate regions. Initially launched in English, it will be available also in French, German, Italian and Spanish. A recent survey by the European Consumers Organization (BEUC) found that two-thirds of consumers are open to changing their eating habits for environmental reasons, with many willing to waste less food at home, buy more seasonal fruit and vegetables and eat more plant-based foods. EUFIC’s innovative tool helps consumers fill these information gaps.

Source: EUFIC, 23 March

EFSA presents data on pesticide residues in food

The non-compliance rate for pesticides in foods decreased in 2019, according to a report published by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). For 2019, 96.1% of the 96,302 samples analysed fell below the maximum residue level (MRL), 3.9%, or 3,720 samples, exceeded this level, of which 2,252 were non‐compliant based on measurement uncertainty. A quarter of samples were from non-EU nations. Samples with unknown origin increased to 11.3% compared to 10% in 2018. France reported nearly half of its samples as unknown origin. Country of origin is a valuable piece of information for traceability reasons in the case of non-compliance, according to EFSA. The highest MRL exceedance rates were linked to products from Malta, Cyprus and Poland, with more than 5% of samples above the MRL. The non-compliant rate was most for products grown in Malta, Cyprus and Bulgaria. The top exceedance rates for non-EU countries were in Laos, Malaysia, Ghana, Uganda, Vietnam, Pakistan, Dominican Republic, Thailand and Cambodia.

Source: Food Safety News, 13 April

MEDFEL Tuesdays

The Mediterranean fruit and vegetable trade fair is offering a series of three free webinars on Tuesdays 4, 11 and 25 May on European fruit production forecasts (stone fruit, melons), and three round tables on consumption, organic produce and e-commerce. To register, click on the following link:

Source: Médiafel, 30 March

Port International launches zero-carbon banana

Port International has launched a certified fair trade, organic and carbon neutral banana under the brand name Be Climate in Delhaize supermarkets in Belgium. The sources of supply are Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and the Dominican Republic. Port International calculates the carbon dioxide emissions along the value chain from the place of production to the point of sale, which are then offset by climate protection projects. The company also markets green asparagus, leafy clementines, strawberries and blueberries under the Be Climate brand.

Source: Commodafrica, 24 March


A total of 1,442 exhibiting companies and institutions, as well as over 13,800 participants from 136 countries, took part in this online event in February. 50% of attendees were international. On the platform, over 400,000 chat messages were exchanged and 10,000 video calls made during the three days of the trade fair. See the review here: BIOFACH/VIVANESS 2022 will take place 15-18 February, with a new sequence of days from Tuesday to Friday, on site in Nuremberg and supplemented digitally.

Source: Biofach, 13 April

France: Rare cold snaps devastate vines

At least a third of French wine production worth almost €2 billion in sales will be lost this year after rare freezing temperatures devastated many vines and fruit crops across France, raising concerns over the climate crisis. “This is probably the greatest agricultural catastrophe of the beginning of the 21st century,” the French agriculture minister, Julien Denormandie, said this week. The unseasonal wave of bitter frost and ice hit suddenly after a bout of warm weather, which worsened the damage. The destruction has hit a swathe of France, including Bordeaux, Burgundy, the Rhône Valley and Provence, damaging vines but also hitting growers of kiwis, apricots, apples and other fruit, as well as crops such as beet and rapeseed.

Source: The Guardian, 9 April

Organic and local producers continue to attract the French

In 2020, the French organic sector recorded 15% new consumers and the French “paid more attention to what they put on their plates”, according to a study.Organic food buyers turned more to local producers in 2020: 59% of those surveyed in the 2021 edition of the Agence Bio Barometer said they had chosen these sources of supply as a priority. These consumers used supermarkets less for their organic food purchases, and 7% have voluntarily abandoned supermarkets.

Source: 20 Minutes, 22 March

Germany: increased consumption of passion fruit

German consumers are becoming increasingly fond of passion fruit. Purchased volumes are on the rise. Advertising promotions were three times higher in the first quarter of 2021 than in the same period in 2020. But this greater consumer information does not mean more attractive promotional prices. In the first three months of 2021, the lowest price (€0.39/piece) was 22% higher than the price in 2020.

Source: Fruchthandel, 29 March

Netherlands: increased consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables in 2020

GfK Nederland and the trade association GroentenFruit Huis conducted a study on the profile of fruit and vegetable consumers in 2020. The Covid-19 crisis has prompted Dutch consumers to consume 9% more fruit and vegetables than in 2020. This growth in volume was in the sales of processed fresh vegetables (+8%) and unprocessed fresh fruit and vegetables (+12%). Households with two incomes and single people under 40 consumed 17% and 14% more fruit and vegetables, respectively. The smallest growth was among low-income households.

Source: Fruchthandel, 13 April

Spain: growth in the organic sector

Ecovalia, the Spanish organic production association, notes in its annual report an increase in production and consumption levels in the organic sector. The area under organic crops will represent 2.3 million hectares in 2020 (10.24% of agricultural land) with the main crops being cereals, olives and dried fruit. Bananas and exotics are growing (+20%) as well as citrus (+16%) and grapes (+9%). Catalonia, Andalusia and Navarra are the most organically cultivated areas. In terms of cultivated areas, Spain is currently ranked third in the world and first in Europe. The consumption of organic food products has increased by 17% and the annual expenditure per capita has exceeded €46.50.

Source: Fruchhandel, 12 March

Norway: development of fruit and vegetable markets in 2020

From 2019 to 2020 the market for fresh vegetables increased by 1% by volume, while for fresh fruit there was a decrease of 1%. By value fresh fruit, berries, vegetables and potatoes increased by 15% in Norwegian grocery stores. The largest growth was in fresh vegetables (+17%) followed by potatoes (+14%) and fresh fruits (+13%). According to new surveys from Nielsen, in November 2020 the shopping pattern was almost back to normal. In total, online shopping represents about 2% of the Norwegian grocery market, compared with Southern Europe at 16%.

Source: Fresh Plaza, 22 March

Yams and sweet potatoes: increasing consumption in Russia

Imports of sweet potatoes and yams in Russia are growing much faster than imports of other vegetables. In 2020 imports doubled, reaching 2,300 t for sweet potatoes (+120%) and 55 t for yams (+130%) compared with 2019. Over the past 5 years, imports of sweet potatoes to Russia have increased 12-fold, and imports of yams 8-fold.

Source: Fresh Plaza, 7 April