Despite high uncertainty in the fruit and vegetable business environment, Freshfel Europe urges the sector to continue to stimulate consumption for the benefit of European consumers. The current multiplicity of uncertainties, including Brexit, the on-going Russian embargo, the growing impact of increasing climatic events and other market access challenges, should serve to further stimulate the sector to boost current low consumption levels across Europe.
The European fresh fruit and vegetable sector is facing a tumultuous period that is challenging fresh produce production, trade and consumption. On the one hand the last two years have been noted for severe weather events, which have impacted produce quality, destabilized supply and demand and resulted in market instability in many regions. On the other hand, market uncertainties continue to cloud any transparency in the business environment. As we approach the 29 March 2019 deadline the outcome of Brexit still remains unknown, while at the same time the trade embargo in Russia as well as the Mediterranean basin and other SPS market access challenges have led to complexity in market diversification. A new wave of unilateralism and protectionism around the world are further contributing to an unpredictable trading environment that is increasingly complex to navigate for businesses.
Waiting for conditions to return to normal however can lead to missed opportunities. Despite this complex trading environment the sector still needs to stimulate consumption on the European market. European daily intake levels remain below the minimum level recommended by the World Health Organisation of 400g of fresh fruit and vegetables per day. Accordingly in 2018 Freshfel led a European Commission Thematic Network, creating a Joint Statement with other stakeholders comprising of 43 policy recommendations for all actors in society on how to stimulate consumption across Europe. Additionally this year in cooperation with Aprifel, Freshfel has embarked on a three year European Commission funded agricultural promotion programme entitled ‘FV for a Healthy EU’ to boost fruit and vegetable consumption by 18-30 year-old Europeans, the consumer segment with one of the lowest levels of consumption.
Freshfel’s members will be discussing strategies for navigating this unpredictable business environment and promotion tools at Freshfel’s 2019 Annual General Meeting, which will take place on the 5-6 June 2019 in London, UK.