Today Freshfel Europe and the Scheme for the Application of International Standards for Fruit and Vegetables of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) have published the first ever extensive study on fresh produce e-Commerce with the title “Online Sales of Fruit and Vegetables in Europe”, exploring the structure and regulatory challenges of selling fruit and vegetables online. The pioneering study analyses the format of existing web shops specialised in online sales of fruit and vegetables, their delivery model as well as compliance with the current EU regulatory framework for (online) marketing standards with multifaceted results.
While a big share of European fruits and vegetables online sales are conducted by online pure players and retailers with roughly 51% of all findings, surprisingly the study illustrated the growing share of agricultural suppliers with direct marketing to consumers.
Freshfel’s Director Trade Policy and Business Development and Co-Author of the study, Nelli Hajdu remarks, that this study marks only the beginning of understanding the complexity of this uprising outlet: “The structure of the online landscape is characterized by national shopping ‘traditions’ and trends, a challenge for creating a favourable regulatory environment. However, the impact of COVID-19 on market structure and consumer uptake is still to be examined in detail.”
Recently, online sales have become an important outlet for food products and the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated this trend. As little was known about the online sales and distribution system of fruits and vegetables, Freshfel Europe teamed up with the OECD to explore the structure and size of the European online fruit and vegetable market as well as its compliance with existing regulatory requirements. To quantify the size of the market, seven sample EU Member States have been selected, to compare their organisational features (online-pure players/retailers, agricultural suppliers) as well as their distribution system (delivery vs. click-and-collect). The study also examined the verification of compliance with labelling requirements of Marketing Standard Regulation EU 543/2011.
For the first time ever the ground breaking study gave an accurate picture of the size and structure of EU eCommerce suppliers. The study found that while the overall structure of online fruit and vegetable sales can be defined by its characteristic business format, either as an online-pure player, retailer or agricultural supplier, as well as by its distribution structure, this varies strongly at national level. For example, the German online fruit and vegetable market is mainly shaped by agricultural suppliers selling directly to consumers, while in Spain smaller local ‘Fruteria’ shops have gone online to expand their customer base.