Mathias Kremer, Bayer:

“It’s essential that we all work together”

European farmers, traders, and retailers are currently facing many challenges. Bayer Food Chain Partnership helps growers tackle each of these challenges while connecting the entire value chain. Together with some of its partners, the company presented sustainable solutions for the future in its Exhibitor Forum at Fruit Logistica.

From left to right: Philippe Binard (Freshfel Europe), Marleen Vaesen (Greenyard), Christophe Bouchet (Primor Fruit), Dubi Raz (Netafim), Matthias Kremer (Bayer), Juan Colomina Figueredo (COEXPHAL), and moderator Chris White (Fruitnet).

Weather fluctuations, additional crop protection regulations, and uncertain political developments – the fruit and vegetable sector in Europe is undergoing major changes, and stakeholders all along the value chain are wondering what the future will bring. To address these types of challenges, Bayer Food Chain Partnership organized the Exhibitor Forum at Fruit Logistica again this year, where five experts on the food value chain showcased innovative solutions for sustainable agriculture. “Our Exhibitor Forum is a great opportunity to exchange ideas, obtain knowledge, and develop new innovative projects,” says Ronald Guendel, Global Head of Food Chain Relations.

Some thought-provoking advances
The Israeli company Netafim presented its drip irrigation concept and explained how its technologies reduce the water footprint while achieving increased yields. “We irrigate the plant, not the soil,” says Dubi Raz, Global Agronomy Director at Netafim. Trials have shown that this results in a 150 percent higher yield for sugar cane, for instance. Juan Colomina Figuerdeo from the Spanish fruit and vegetable association COEXPHAL offered thought-provoking insights on conserving resources, explaining the positive impact that the use of solar energy has had in Spain – and how it increases productivity.

The implementation of best-practice sustainability measures was described by stone fruit producer Primor Fruit, which has been cooperating with Bayer Food Chain Partnership since 2010. Through this collaboration, Primor Fruit now grows higher-quality fruit and has also increased the sustainability of its operations. Furthermore, Primor Fruit received an add-on certification last year. “Thanks to this scheme, we are able to export 90 percent of our stone fruits,” says Christophe Bouchet, Production Manager at Primor Fruit. “This module will make the value chain more transparent and, in the end, help us to build more trust with our clients and consumers.”

Dubi Raz of Netafim, talking about the benefits of drip irrigation.

Marleen Vaesen discussed innovative concepts to increase consumption of fruits and vegetables.

Innovative healthy concepts for modern lifestyles
Apart from the sustainability aspect, the European agricultural sector is facing challenges on the consumer side. “Consumption of fruits and vegetables is too low and stagnating,” says Marleen Vaesen of Greenyard. “Thus, the food sector has come up with innovative concepts that suit the current lifestyle of eating out or having less time for cooking. Such solutions are snack vegetables or meal kits.”

Another important aspect at this year’s Exhibitor Forum was the trust of European consumers in the current production methods for fruits and vegetables. A study by the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment has shown that the majority of consumers (78 percent) have concerns about possible residues. Philippe Binard, General Delegate at Freshfel Europe, is trying to strengthen trust in legislation. “We have very solid legislation at the European level,” he says. “According to the European Food and Safety authority, 97 percent of the investigated samples are either free of residues or within the legal limits.”

In addition to discussing the current challenges and opportunities of fruit and vegetable production in Europe, the speakers at this year’s Exhibitor Forum also talked about Bayer’s contribution to this development. Mathias Kremer, Head of Crop Strategies and Portfolio Management, showed how the company supports farmers with high-quality seeds, innovative crop protection, and customized services. “If we want to increase sustainability and productivity in horticulture, it’s essential that we all work together,” he says. “Farmers, traders, retailers, and we at Bayer must join hands to overcome not just the European but the global challenges – to ensure food security and quality in a sustainable way.”

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