Study shows crucial role of producer organizations in the EU fruit and vegetable sector

Producer organizations (POs) play a crucial role in sustaining and fostering growth in the fruit and vegetable sector in the European Union. This is done, among other things, through channeling the EU financial support for the sector. This is one of the conclusions of the synthesis study of national strategies for sustainable operational programs in the fruit and vegetable sector for the period 2013-18, published today by the European Commission.

In general, operational programs implemented by producer organizations have proved to be successful in improving the attractiveness of POs membership, promoting the concentration of supply and placing on the market, boosting the commercial value of products, as well as ensuring that production is adjusted to demand.

The data collected also shows that operational programs have had a positive impact on the sector when it comes to improving competitiveness, protecting and maintaining the environment, and preventing and managing crises, reinforcing other policies pursuing similar objectives like rural development measures. In particular, the stakeholders mentioned the positive opportunities that arise from being a member of a PO, including:

  • an assumed overall better market position: In general, marketing by producer organizations accounts for about half of the value of the country's total production of fruit and vegetables;
  • improved access to harvesting and processing machinery;
    financial advantages and co-investments;
  • knowledge exchange and technical assistance;
    better access to crop insurance;
  • access to measures that ensure product quality or certification;
  • increased resilience to shocks (including price stability)  and, to some extent, general structural trends due to the community approach.

About 18 to 21% of the total expenditure for the 2013-18 period also concerned measures with environmental objectives. Integrated production, which has a positive impact on water and soil quality, represented, for example, the largest share of the environmental expenditures (accounting for 37% of total expenditure in 2018).

Other measures contributed to preserving habitats relevant to biodiversity and protecting the soil. A large part of environmental actions is directly related to production, while energy saving and efficiency measures are particularly targeted at transport and waste reduction measures at marketing.

To help producers undergoing difficulties or even crises, the two most used instruments were market withdrawal and harvest insurance. Marketing, promotion, and communication activities can also be used for the purpose of crisis prevention and management but have been mobilized to a lesser extent. The situation remains contrasted across EU countries, though.

In 2020, there were 1,603 producer organizations and 31 transnational producer organizations in the fruit and vegetable sector in the EU27. The highest number of recognized producer organizations in this sector are located in Spain (527), Italy (289), France (220), Poland (196), and Greece (128).

Click here to read the study.

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