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Bulgaria: About 10% growth of fresh produce imports between January and May
According to preliminary data of the NSI, in the period between January and May 2016 Bulgaria imported 128.1 thousand tonnes of fresh vegetables and 104.6 thousand tonnes of fresh fruit, which is a 9.4% and 10% increase, respectively, compared to the same period of 2015.
The products contributing the most to the growth in the import of fresh vegetables have been onions, carrots, cucumbers, peppers and tomatoes, with between 15.5% and 32.1% growth and the most significant one being recorded by tomatoes. Meanwhile, however, the import of potatoes recorded a 25.8% drop.
Traditionally, the most imported fresh fruits are species that are not produced in the country, such as citrus fruits and bananas. A significant share corresponds also to apples, whose import volume recorded a 3.7% increase compared to the first five months of 2015. Growth was also observed in the imports of strawberries, melons, watermelons, peaches and apricots, up by 10 to 38.8%. On the other side of the scale, imports of nuts, cherries and raspberries recorded drops of between 17.6% and 84.7%.
In the period January-May 2016, exports of fresh vegetables increased by 43.3% compared to the same period of 2015, reaching 12.5 thousand tonnes, while those of fresh fruit grew by 25.2% to 14.9 thousand tonnes.
Among the major vegetables for export, the most significant growth was observed with pumpkins, up by more than three times, followed by cabbage, peppers, cucumbers and onions, up by between 27.2% and 57%. A significant reduction was recorded in the export of potatoes (by 91.6%), while tomatoes recorded a more moderate decline of just 4.8%.
Qatar: Fresh produce import prices up
Due to a shortage of locally produced vegetable, import prices have started rising, making food shopping difficult for consumers.
"Locally-produced vegetables are usually of good quality and come cheap, compared to the imported ones. When available, they bring prices down dramatically," said a vegetable trader at the central vegetable market at Abu Hamour.
"A crate of local tomatoes was selling for QR4 ($1.10 US), but now the same quantity of imported tomatoes sells at least at QR15. The quality is almost the same. It is only a process of supply and demand," he explained.
Similarly, a crate of locally-produced cucumber used to sell for QR4, but the price of the imported cucumber of the same quantity is QR20 now.
The Consumer Protection Department from time to time issues a binding list of vegetable and fruit prices, available for both consumers and traders. However, the list does not remain stable because prices are usually controlled by the suppliers and the availability of the products in the source country.
German market for fresh produce growing steadily
After the US, Germany comes second as an importer of fresh fruit and vegetables. Last year, Germany imported 8.9 million tonnes with a value of 10.5 billion euro. A record amount, both in quantity and in value.
The Netherlands is Germany’s second largest supplier after Spain. The total flow of trade of fresh fruit and vegetables from the Netherlands to Germany has a size of more than 2.5 million tonnes. Of this, an estimated one million tonnes is product grown in the Netherlands. Bananas are the most important import product in Germany. For some years, 300,000 tonnes of bananas are imported by Germany via the Netherlands annually. Tomatoes are in second place. Last year, this concerned more than 700,000 tonnes, 440,000 tonnes of which arrived via the Netherlands. Of that, between 350,000 and 400,000 tonnes were of Dutch origin.
It’s noticeable that more and more vegetables have been grown in Germany in recent years. Last year, this was 4 million tonnes. Both the production of outdoor vegetables (3.8 million tonnes) and greenhouse vegetables (180,000 tonnes) experienced record sizes in 2017. The German fruit harvest was exceptionally small last year, because of extreme weather circumstances. However, more fresh fruit was imported last year than ever before.
Fruit harvest suffers from bad weather
The own German production of vegetables is larger than import, 4.0 and 3.2 million tonnes respectively. Germany exports fresh vegetables as well. Last year, they exported 385,000 tonnes, which was less than the year before. In 2013, the German vegetable export was the largest, 470,000 tonnes. With 90,000 tonnes, onions were the largest export product in 2017. Headed cabbage came second with nearly 60,000 tonnes. The Netherlands is the most important buyer, with roughly 70,000 tonnes last year. Neighbours Austria and the Czech Republic come second and third.
For fresh fruit, import is much larger than the own German production. Last year, import increased to a record of 5.64 million tonnes. The German fruit production was 850,000 tonnes in 2017, the smallest amount in recent years. This was mostly because the apple harvest suffered much from bad weather in spring. For years, Germany has exported between 700 and 800,000 tonnes of fresh fruit. About half of this concerns the re-export of bananas. Apple is their second product, but export of this product remains below the limit of 100,000 tonnes. Neighbouring countries the Netherlands, Poland, Denmark, the Czech Republic and Austria are the most important buyers.
More and more greenhouse vegetables as well
The production of vegetables has started increasing again in recent years. Various products were grown more in 2017 than previously. Last year, the production of outdoor vegetables increased to 3.82 million tonnes, compared to 3.56 million tonnes (+7%) in the previous year. It was even less in 2015, 3.29 million tonnes. Of various important products, last year’s harvest was the largest in ten years. Three large vegetables are dominant. Carrot is by far the most important German product, with a production of 734,000 tonnes last year. That was at least 14 per cent higher than in 2016. Of the two other large products, onions and white cabbage, the harvests of 541,000 and 479,000 tonnes respectively were the largest harvest of the past ten years as well. Gherkins, red cabbage, iceberg lettuce and asparagus are the numbers four to seven. Productions are between 130,000 and 190,000 tonnes. Of these four, only the asparagus production was larger than ever in 2017.
The production of greenhouse vegetables was larger than ever in the past year as well. It total, it was about 180,000 tonnes compared to 150,000 tonnes in 2016. Tomato is the most important product, and in 2017 this product had a production of just over 100,000 tonnes. With an import of 716,000 tonnes in 2017, this means roughly 12 per cent of domestic demand is taken care of by own, German product. It’s about the same for cucumbers, with a production of 60,000 tonnes and an import of 470,000 tonnes. For the third largest product, bell pepper, the share of domestic product is only 3 per cent, which is modest (production 12,000 tonnes, import 385,000 tonnes). Of the other greenhouse products, the German production has a very modest size.
One million tonnes of Dutch product to Germany
According to KCB/GFH, 851,000 tonnes of fresh fruit and vegetables from Dutch soil were exported to Germany last year. The three greenhouse vegetable products tomatoes (346,000 tonnes), cucumbers (180,000 tonnes) and bell pepper (100,000 tonnes) are by far the most important, and combined represent three-quarters of the total. According to the SBA, the German statistical office, 1.33 million tonnes of fresh fruit and vegetables were imported from the Netherlands last year. In principle, this source assumes the country of origin is correct.
Assuming the KCB statistics don’t map the entire flow of trade, roughly one million tonnes of Dutch product will have been sent to Germany, in addition to 1.5 million tonnes of re-export product. This concerns, for example, bananas (300,000 tonnes), and re-export of grapes (135,000 tonnes), pineapples (115), tomatoes (90), avocados (70), mangoes (62) and cucumbers (50).
A third of vegetables imported from the Netherlands
Based on the figures of the German statistical office, the share of Dutch product in the total import of fresh fruit and vegetables is 15 per cent, fresh fruit is 3 per cent, and fresh vegetables are 36 per cent. Of the three important products, tomatoes, cucumbers and bell peppers, that’s 55 per cent, 45 per cent and 32 per cent, respectively. These are annual averages. Other Dutch products with a large share in total import are sprouts (91%), headed cabbage (48%) and celeriac (84%). Including own German production, 13 per cent of the domestic German vegetable market is product grown in the Netherlands. In fruit, the share of Dutch product is very modest.
For more information:
Jan Kees Boon
Fruit and Vegetable Facts
Almost 30% of imported fresh vegetables come from the Netherlands
End of growth for Norwegian fresh produce imports
In 2015 Norway imported close to 500,000 tons of goods worth 800 million Euro. This is about the same amount of fresh produce that was imported in 2014. This is the end of the continual growth seen previously, which was at 2% over the last five years. The growth mainly occurred with fresh vegetables. Last year the 125,000 tons of fresh vegetables were imported. 350,000 tons of fresh fruit was imported. The import of all fresh fruit and vegetables last year was worth 800 million Euro
Spain: an important supplier
Spain is by far the most important supplier of fresh fruits and vegetables to Norway. Import from Spain continues to grow faster than average. The Spanish products make up almost a third of imported goods. Spain now supplies 44% of all the fresh vegetables and 25% of the fresh fruit. Three-quarters of all the oranges and tangerines come from Spain. The bulk of imported watermelons, cauliflower, broccoli and cucumbers come from Spain.
Apples from Italy
Italy is Norway's second largest supplier of fresh fruits and vegetables. Italy is all about fresh fruit. In 2015 60% of the imported apples came from Italy.
Other products that Norway gets from Italy include grapes, peaches, nectarines and kiwis. Italy supplies more then half of all the kiwis that are imported to Norway.
Almost 30% of imported fresh vegetables from the Netherlands
After Costa Rica the Netherlands is fourth on the list. Import from the Netherlands grew faster than the average over the last five years. Although, growth in 2015 was less than in 2014. The Netherlands mainly supplies fresh vegetables to Norway. Tomatoes and bell peppers are the most important products. The import of these products did not grow in 2015. In fact, the import fell in 2015: tomatoes fell to 11,400 tons and bell peppers fell to 10,000 tons. A little less than half of all the tomatoes imported to Norway came from the Netherlands, and a little more than half of all the bell peppers imported to Norway came from the Netherlands.
More and more strawberries and mushrooms from the Netherlands, but a lot less pears last year
Strawberries are the third most populous product that the Netherlands imports to Norway. The amount of Dutch strawberries going to Norway is considerably increasing, last year 5,800 tons were imported. More than half of all the strawberries imported to Norway are from the Netherlands.
According to export figures from the KCB, 5,000 tons of Dutch strawberries were imported in 2015. After the Netherlands comes Belgium and Spain when it comes to strawberry import to Norway. In contrast with the growth of strawberry imports, the import of pears from the Netherlands fell.
In 2014 Norway imported 11,700 tons from the Netherlands. Last year that number had dropped to 5,700 tons. The import of pears from Belgium grew considerably, from 6,100 to 10,700 tons. Last year the Netherlands imported 3,000 tons of onions to Norway, which is average. Mushroom import is increasing. Last year the import of mushrooms from the Netherlands increased to 2,700 tons. The Netherlands is the second largest mushroom supplier after Poland. Last year Poland imported 4,000 tons of mushrooms to Norway.
Bananas: the most important product
Bananas are the most important import product to Norway. Last year 84,000 tons of bananas were imported to Norway; which is the same as in 2014. The import of bananas to Norway is growing annually. Apples are the second most important product. However, the import of apples to Norway fell slightly. In 2015 50,000 tons of apples were imported. Oranges come in third, at 35,000 tons. The tangerine import is stable, at 30,000 tons. Because Norway depends very much on the imports of fresh fruits and vegetables, a wide range of products are imported to Norway.
Products that have seen an above average increase in import over the last few years include: tomatoes, watermelons, bell peppers, cauliflower, broccoli and in particular, avocados and strawberries.
Seychelles: Companies to increase fresh produce imports from Reunion
Earlier this year, Seychelles lifted an import ban on fruits and vegetables from Reunion island. Now local importers report that fresh fruits, vegetables and other products from the island will soon reach the Seychelles market, giving customers more choices. Four local companies made a two-day visit to Reunion last month to explore trade opportunities.
Speaking to Seychelles News Agency, the chief executive of the Seychelles Trading Company (STC), Veronique Laporte, said, “I was very impressed with the industries I visited, especially the fruits and vegetables, and this is why I’m happy that the embargo has been lifted.”
The Seychelles Trading Company, the largest importer of goods to the Seychelles was accompanied on the visit by the Global Supply Centre (GSC), Constance Hotels and Resorts and Skychef.
Following the visit, STC has introduced new rice and tomato ketchup from Reunion Island on the local market, and Laporte said the response has been very good.
STC also hopes to import a wide range of fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as meat products and others.
Venu Gopal, the manager of the GSC, which also imports food products from across the globe, said his company is definitely tapping into this new market.
GSC will soon be importing pineapple, litchis as well as tomatoes and are now looking at transport options to see whether it is more viable by air or by sea.
Another local company, ISPC, though not part of the delegation to Reunion, says the lifting of the ban is a new opportunity to source fresh fruits and vegetables from a close island in the Indian Ocean.
ISPC imports mainly from the Rungis international market, the biggest fresh products platform in Europe located in Paris.
The company’s chief executive, Alfred Fourcroy, said that “if the Reunion products are more competitive and qualitative, ISPC will start doing business.”
See more at: www.seychellesnewsagency.com
Maltese fresh produce importer collects trade in Genoa and ships it to island from there
“Ten years ago, the Maltese only looked at price, but now they would rather buy a smaller amounts of a good-quality product than a larger volume for a lower price,” Mark Mizzi from Mafimex says. Mafimex supplies to all kinds of businesses, from street vendors to cruise ships. “Every client has different needs, but they all want quality.” Quality is the company’s foundation. “It is what has kept us going. Over the years, we have contributed to the welfare of our society. We don’t just sell, we provide a service, by paying personal attention to our customers, so that they receive the products they want. Anyone can import anything, but you want the final customer to ask for you specifically. That’s why presentation and quality are so important. You need to have good programmes with serious companies. However, if you’re a small company just starting out, we’ll give you a chance, as long as you’re producing good products at competitive prices. After all, we were small once, too.”
Many domestic fruit and vegetable traders come to buy the produce
Mafimex was founded by Mark Mizzi’s father 50 years ago to sell produce. He always believed Maltese product was just as good as any other product, and his dream was always that his products would be exported. Every morning he would make a list of products for his associate to buy, even though there wasn’t much space at the small shop to store the products, the lorries were unloaded in front of the shop. From that, the company grew into a wholesaler that supplied to different local markets every day. “When Malta joined the EU, it was a turning point for us,” Mark says. Joining the EU meant that Malta joined the free market. “Our supply wasn’t enough for the local market, so we started importing. We brought a variety of products to Malta, instead of just one type of apple, we would bring several different varieties to Malta.”
Mark Mizzi in the middle
Local supply amounts to about 15 to 20 per cent of the company. “It’s our responsibility to provide for the welfare of each and every one of our customers, we are part of a chain. Local production depends on the weather. This year, we had a relatively fair season, and fruit production is therefore expected to be good.” The increase of tourism also requires more fresh produce. Mafimex imports 38 per cent of its produce from Italy, 26 per cent from the Netherlands and 15 per cent from Spain. “Spain is a relatively new market, it only opened to us about three years ago.” Import from non-EU countries (Israel, Egypt, South Africa and South America) amounts to 18 per cent. “We also import Zespri kiwifruit from New Zealand, we have been distributing this product for five years now. Other products we import are Val Venosta, Exsa, Mona Lisa and Bouquet, among other brands.”
Fresh produce has been imported from all of Europe and North Africa
“One of the largest disadvantages we face is the fact that Malta is a small island. Costs and logistics are a considerable factor in our purchasing decisions. We have to consider all of the additional costs at the moment we buy,” Mark says.
The company has its own ripening facility for bananas on the first floor, and they have their own cooling cells. These are located underground so that the produce doesn’t have to be cooled back down from 40 ºC in summer. There’s also a separate department where the orders for catering are prepared on the first floor.
These cooling cells are underground, so they can cool in a sustainable way
All of the imported products are transported to and gathered in the port of Genoa, from where the product is shipped to Malta in the company’s own trailers. “We import about 13 or 14 lorries per week. We get bananas directly from Colombia and Costa Rica. We only work with lorries from Europe, because that’s much quicker than container transport. This results in shorter transit times, which is necessary because we work with perishables,” Mark says. “Last year, we set up our own network of trailers, this ensures the reliability that our customers have come to expect from us. This way, we try to keep prices low and efficiency high.” All the products are gathered in the port of Genoa, from where the product is shipped to Malta in the company’s own trailers.
Argentinian pears. Local production of pears is too small to supply the demand.
Mark explains that Mafimex exports potatoes to Europe. “We only export Alpha potatoes to the Netherlands. The first shipment of Alphas will be loaded and sent on 29 April. We work with a lot of old farmers, who are unwilling to change their varieties. They know they’ll get good prices for their Alpha potatoes from the Dutch. The Alpha season lasts about six weeks. This year will see slightly smaller volumes than last year, but it will be a good harvest.”
Cauliflower from Brittany. Mafimex collects all trade in Genua and from there they import it into Malta
Malta has 40,000 houses and flats that are empty half the year. “These houses are built for tourists, so they’re empty a lot. But construction is practically the only investment option for the Maltese. Our market isn’t varied, the stock exchange is limited, and companies are small,” Mark explains. “Tourism is much more year-round now. There used to be more peaks and calm periods, but it has levelled out more. Gozo, the northernmost island of Malta, is also a good market. Many Maltese people go here in winter, creating tourism.”
The ripening room is also underground
“We try to prepare for the future by always being on the lookout for new items. One such example is organic produce. We also import nuts and dried fruits, but we want a more varied range of these products. As long as it’s connected to our business, we are interested in it.”
Lidl, the German supermarket chain, has also arrived in Malta. “It’s a discounter, and it started out as one when it first came to Malta. But over time, they started increasing prices, and its prices are now 20 to 25 per cent higher than Italian or Sicilian Lidl prices. We no longer supply to them,” Mark concludes.
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Spain and Italy are the main fresh produce suppliers of Switzerland
In March, the Corona crises that started at that time had no impact on the volume of imports of fresh fruit and vegetables into Switzerland. A total of more than 76,000 tons of fresh fruit and vegetables were imported this March. This was slightly more than last year and the same as in March 2018. The import pattern in March was, incidentally, exactly the same as in January and February. So slightly more than last year and as much as in 2018. On an annual basis, Switzerland accounts for an import of 750,000 tons of fresh fruit and vegetables worth 1.3 billion euros. Switzerland is therefore of medium importance in fresh fruit and vegetables.
Switzerland uses the country of origin for import statistics
Spain and Italy are by far Switzerland's most important suppliers with a share of resp. almost 40 and almost 20%. The countries that follow are Columbia, Peru and Panama. The products from those countries usually come via the Netherlands. Throughout 2019, Swiss import statistics gave an import from the Netherlands of 20,500 tons. The Netherlands, including re-exports, exported 75,000 tons to Switzerland last year. In other words, three-quarters of Dutch exports to Switzerland consisted of re-exports. Important re-export products are exotics, avocados, mangoes, etc. Of those products, much more goes via the Netherlands to Switzerland than Dutch tomatoes and peppers go there.
Besides the Netherlands, France is also an important transit country. Switzerland imported more than 20,000 tons of French product last year, but more than 100,000 tons of fruit and vegetables went to Switzerland via France.
Little difference in countries and products
In total, imports in the first three months were 7% higher than last year. There was no difference between imports from the EU countries and those from third countries. There was a difference in the individual countries. Imports from Italy, Panama, Morocco, Ecuador, the Netherlands and Brazil rose more than average. Swiss imports from Costa Rica did not go as well in the first quarter. With regard to products, the image for fruit and vegetables is approximately the same. The individual products also showed no major fluctuations.
Clementines and strawberries did not do well. Products that performed well in Switzerland in the first quarter were cabbage, bell peppers and lemons.
If we look at March separately, the picture is not too shocking. There was not a lot of change, with the exception of Clementines and Lemon imports, which were up, and onions which were down.
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