Fruit Logistica 2019 can be summarized in two themes: sustainability and Brexit. Sustainability featured in almost every stand. The reduction of plastics was high on the agenda. However, this was also true for, for example, restrictions on the use of pesticides.
Brexit hung like a dark cloud above the trade fair. Everyone knows the hatchet is meant to fall on 29 March. However, the questions on everyone’s lips is – how hard will it fall and how much damage will it do The aftermath of the hot summer set the mood among traders. Surplusses on, for example, the European grape market, are affecting traders worldwide.
Mixed feelings in CityCube
In general, the French delegates were pleased with the trade show. “We made contact with existing clients. Pre-planned meetings also went well”, one of the standholders said. According to some of them, there was somewhat of a lack of potential clients.
There were also new plum varieties to see, like the COT International’s Rougecot and the Lovita. In the machine hall, MAF RODA’s Bi-Axone drew attention. This new sorting machine for long pear varieties turns the fruit midway through the process without damaging them.
Brexit: ‘crazy show’
The Brexit deadline is looming. Many companies are following this issue with interest and go to meetings. They do, however, admit that, just like their colleagues, they will have to just wait and see what happens. Small wonder then, that is was the theme among the British standholders. British, as well as Irish importers, are calling the whole Brexit, a ‘crazy show’. They do not, however, seem to be genuinely worried.
Most of the large companies trust that they have the capacity to manage the changes. The first four post-Brexit weeks will be the ‘tricky period’. This is irrelevant of whether there is a deal or not. In those weeks, the United Kingdom is still very dependent on imports from Europe; Spain in particular. The small traders will have to fit the bill and will have the most extra costs.
One trader is said to want to build up stock for that month. This will be to bridge the gap until the British season starts. Other companies are looking for alternative ports. In this way, they hope to minimize waiting times and delays. Irish importers are considering direct routes to the island. They will, then, not have to use the UK as a land bridge.
The aftermath of the hot summer
On the growers’ and traders’ side, things are looking slightly less positive. In the past year, Europe was hit several times by serious, extreme weather. Prolonged periods with no rainfall alternated with extremely high temperatures.
This extreme weather, of course, had a major impact on the available volumes and price settings in the trade sector. In Germany, among other things, the potato and onion sector, as well as the outdoor products, suffered from crop failures and quality problems in recent months.
Belgian companies specializes in top fruit were less positive. This is as a result of the bad top fruit market. It was, however, striking that those offering red or blush-red pears had a very good season. There is the potential for growth in this segment.
The Belgian companies also see Asia and South America as increasingly important sales markets. South African top fruit exporters are also concerned about the supplies in Europe. These exporters have been advised to look for other markets.