Photo report of conference and a lecture from Cindy van Rijswick (Rabobank)The future of the horticultural sector; focus of PMA Fresh Connections Netherlands
In partnership with Frugi Venta, the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) set foot on European soil for the first time this year to organise a conference in Rotterdam under the title PMA’s Fresh Connections. Around a hundred interested professionals from the fresh produce sector attended yesterday the event at the Hilton Hotel, with keynote speakers such as Jose Antonio Gomez (Camposol), Boet Mouton (Mouton Citrus), Andrew Reynolds (Total Produce), Elliott Grant (Harvest Mark), Gé Happe (Ahold), Oleen Smethurst (Costco) and Cindy Van Rijswick (Rabobank). Today, the company will arrange a tour including visits to Red Star, Koppert Cress and Wageningen University.
Van Rijswick, Fresh Produce Analyst at Rabobank, kicked off the event with an introduction to Europe’s place in the global trade of fruit and vegetables. She highlighted innovation as the main engine for economic growth in Europe, pointing out that, particularly in emerging countries, the gap in terms of innovation seems to be narrowing. She pointed out that further innovation is needed to reactivate the consumption of fruits and vegetables with stagnant sales; however, the analyst also said to be optimistic about the long term future for the sector, partly due to the growth of convenience products, the focus on the health benefits of fruits and vegetables and the greater weight given by professional chefs to vegetables on their menus.
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Van Rijswick stated that consumers are difficult to classify into groups. “One and the same person may be a one-time buyer of cheap products at Lidl, but also of an expensive salad another time. Lidl, for example, is doing well in the sale of fruits and vegetables at low prices, but there is also a strong growth in products with higher added value, such as fruit salads. Over the past five years, the fresh-cut market has experienced an annual growth of around 10% (4% in Germany and 7% in the UK, despite the economic crisis. Processed vegetables have also grown by 4% in volume (2.7% in UK and 11% in Germany).”
This growth, according to Cindy, is taking place especially in online, discount and convenience. “Online food trade will double in the coming years and this will have an impact on fruit and vegetable traders.” She also talked about the returns of greenhouse vegetable growers; currently well under pressure, and about the changes in trade flows, which complicate the sourcing. “The fruit and vegetable exporting countries growing the most are mostly outside Western Europe, although in absolute terms, Europe is still a great place for trade. The largest exporter of fresh fruits and vegetables is still Spain, followed by Mexico, Chile, China, Turkey and the Netherlands. In terms of import volumes, Germany tops the list, followed by Russia, Japan, France, Canada, Hong Kong and the United States.”
In conclusion, Western Europe is not the market growing the most, but it remains a large and attractive market. Growth in Europe is only possible through innovation in logistics and efficiency in the value chain and in retail and consumer solutions. Outside Europe, the main growth opportunities for Western European fruit producers lie in the local production and marketing of knowledge-intensive products and in the development of export platforms in producing countries for the worldwide delivery of specific European products.
Later this week there will be reports of other conferences.
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Publication date: 4/30/2014