European Union

Produce in firing line as US sparks trade war

The EU, Canada and Mexico consider retaliatory measures in response to US tariffs on steel and aluminium imports
The US has announced the imposition of tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from the EU, Canada and Mexico, prompting fears of a protracted and damaging trade war.

Almost immediately after president Donald Trump’s announcement, the Mexican government issued a statement announcing that it would impose equivalent measures on various US imports including apples, table grapes and cranberries.

The measures would remain in effect until the US government eliminated the import tariffs, the Ministry for the Economy said.

The latest trade data available from ITC suggests that, of the three products, the US apple export trade would stand to lose the most from a Mexican tariff hike.

Mexico is by far the largest importer of US apples, with sales worth US$276.5m last year, compared with US$174.3m in Canada and US$97.4m in India.

Mark Powers, president of the Yakima, Washington-based Northwest Horticultural Council, said the move was expected to cause substantial damage to the industry.

Mexico is the third major market to impose tariffs on Washington apples as a result of US trade policy on steel and aluminium this year.

Last week, India announced plans to put a 30 per cent retaliatory tariff on US apples – on top of the 50 per cent tariff that they are already subjected to, while in China US fruit imports have faced a 15 per cent hike in tariffs since 2 April.

Sales of US fresh apples to Mexico may have declined slightly in recent years, but last year they were 21 per cent up on the previous campaign.

Meanwhile, fresh cranberry exporters in the US have seen the value of their business in Mexico increase considerably over the past few years, albeit from a low starting point. According to ITC, Mexican import sales rose by 30 per cent to just under US$1.27m between 2013 and 2017.

As for table grapes, the value of US sales to Mexico fell by 2 per cent to US$97.2m during 2013-2017, although ITC noted a 26 per cent increase in 2017 compared with the previous campaign.

WTO case opened

The EU, meanwhile, has confirmed it is opening a case at the World Trade Organisation in response to the new US duties, with EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström expected to announce retaliatory "proportionate" tariffs on US exports including cranberries "in accordance with WTO rules".

Federica Mogherini, the EU high representative on foreign policy, told journalists: "The European Union will today proceed with the WTO dispute settlement case adding those additional duties on a number of imports from the United States. The European Union measures will be reasonable, proportionate and in full compliance with WTO rules and obligations.”

The decision by the White House was dubbed “patently absurd” by the UK’s international trade secretary, Liam Fox, who suggested the UK would be prepared for “tit-for-tat” moves. “We absolutely do not rule out counter measures,” he asserted.

When the initial threat of tariffs was raised by the US back in March, the EU pledged to retaliate with tariffs on American imports such as orange juice, cranberries and bourbon.

“Logically, these unilateral measures on steel and aluminium will lead to multiple counter reactions around the world, and for sure they will be challenged within the WTO,” said Philippe Binard, general delegate of European fresh produce association Freshfel Europe.

“The EU has already published a list of potential retaliatory measures that will be effective from 18 June, including on orange juice, cranberry juice and sweet corn. Elsewhere in the world, retaliatory measures may include increased taxes on US fresh fruit and vegetables.”

The question, according to Binard, is whether or not the US will remove its measures on steel and aluminium in order to avoid triggering such a response.

Additional reporting by Mike Knowles and Maura Maxwell


Author: Tom Joyce

Potential Australia-Europe FTA

The Council of the European Union has agreed to talk with Australia about forming a free trade agreement
In the coming weeks, discussions for a free trade agreement between Australia and the European Union (EU) will commence.

Horticultural products are in the mix of potential exports, and a proposed agricultural counsellor strategically placed in the EU will help secure and improve market access for Australian producers.

“This has big potential for our farmers and will open up lucrative premium markets in our fourth largest export destination driving increased exports, economic growth and jobs in rural and regional Australia,” said Australian minister for agriculture and water resources, David Littleproud.

“So much of the food our famers produce goes to export and the government will be working hard to make sure our farmers get real benefits from this.”

As part of this year’s budget in Australia, the federal government has announced the appointment of an agricultural counsellor in the EU who will work on market access deals on the ground.

“The EU is our fourth largest export destination for agriculture, fisheries and forestry worth $3.8 billion in 2016-17. It is also our largest source of agriculture, fisheries and forestry imports, valued at $5.6 billion,” Littleproud said.

“I look forward to the launch of negotiations between Australia and the European Union next month in Australia to further cement our important trade relationship with the EU.”


Australian Hayward kiwi for the European market

The Australian kiwi has a relatively short but also very successful history: pampered by the many Australian sunshine hours, it offers a consistent taste thanks to its high sugar content. Seeka Australia is one of Australia's premier fruit production companies, in particular for the Hayward Kiwi.

Bratzler & Co. has been working for years on expanding and maintaining direct producer relations around the globe. Focusing on just a few exotics, the fruit trading company is, among other things, using these partnerships to consistently further its value-added chain. “Seeka operates in the Goulburn Valley, the so-called 'Fruit Bowl' of Australia," said Thorsten Blasius, Managing Director Bratzler & Co. “The conditions are ideal there - plenty of sun, high temperatures and good soil provide us with the high sugar content and the extraordinary quality of these kiwis. The supply capacities of our partner are unbeatable with regard to the Australian market.”

Direct relationships create more possibilities

For more than 10 years, Bratzler & Co. has maintained an intensive and cooperative trading relationship with its Australian kiwi supplier and it has been heavily involved in the successful marketing of this high-quality kiwi in Europe. Since the beginning of this cooperation, Bratzler & Co. has been the exclusive partner for the marketing of this product in Europe. According to Blasius, these direct relationships are becoming increasingly important, especially in the premium segment. “The trade demands taste sensations. But it also wants a consistent product. This is only possible if everything fits during the production and we know all the ins and outs. Then we can optimally prepare through logistics, storage and processing. This, in turn, is only worthwhile if the amounts of produce justify the effort.”

Blasius also appreciates the Australians’ style of collaborating - uncomplicated and flexible. For example, retailers in Europe have the opportunity to put their own brand names on the kiwi’s, because these are unwrapped goods. At the right purchasing quantities, the integration of their own packaging systems in the supply process is feasible without much trouble. "With Seeka in Australia we are working together with a fully industrialized nation at our own level - much more is possible than with some other suppliers." So Bratzler & Co. still sees many possibilities for their customers in Europe.

Consistent quality & measurable good results 

Why the combination of merchandise volumes and industrial standards plays an important role for Bratzler & Co. is also revealed in the self-image of the company. "We have not been just a dealer for a long time, we are acting along the entire value chain and that starts with working in the field." But we also do a lot when the goods arrive at our warehouses. It is invaluable when I find a consistent product - then dry matter, Brix value, strength and internal defects can be identified much more accurately, which is valuable for the overall delivery. With near-infrared light (NIR) and other non-traumatic analysis methods, we are able to effectively separate ripe and unripe fruits. This way we treat our fruit carefully and sustainably, ensuring excellent quality for delivery," says Blasius.

Deliveries from Australia are typically expected from mid-May, this year in calibres 27 (115-125g), 30 (105-115g) and 36 (85-95g). Large quantities of Australian origin reamin in the market up until September. For a while now, the Australian Haywards have made a considerable contribution to Bratzler & Co.’s ability to supply kiwi’s year-round. "And they are of a particularly high quality," says Blasius, who is already looking forward to the next innovation of his Australian partner. "This year we will already receive first KIWI GOLD batches from Seeka. Starting next year, larger quantities are expected." It is obviously a cooperation that bears fruit on both sides of the world.

High modern protection nets are available to kiwi producers

For more information:
Bratzler & Co. GmbH
Weinweg 43
76137 Karlsruhe
Tel.: +49 (0)721 . 96185 . 22
Fax: +49 (0)721 . 96185 . 99

Publication date: 4/17/2018


Italy: Kiwi producers worried in Lazio and Romagna

It's still too early to assess the damage, but the Latina area was hit quite hard after the frost of 2017. The situation is worrying in Emilia-Romagna as well, while Piedmont and Veneto seem to be doing better. Luckily temperatures under plastic films have remained higher.

Giampaolo Dal Pane, President of Consorzio Dorì Europe, stresses that "it's essential to cover crops with anti-rain nets. It's better to have a couple of hectares less but to cover the rest. On 28th February, the temperature in cover-less crops in a Latina company dropped to -7.5°C, while that in a covered one only reached -4°C. The same happened in Romagna: -10°C outside and -6°C under nets."

"We'll need to make an assessment, but things are not looking good. The frost may have damaged bark as well, making it easier for the Psa bacteria to penetrate."

There is no great difference between the sensitivity to frost of green and yellow varieties, except for the fact that yellow kiwis are usually earlier. Latina hadn't seen such low temperatures for decades. An 8-hectare orchard in Aprilia was destroyed as the supporting structure of the nets collapsed under the weight of the snow.

In the Ravenna province, the temperature dropped to -10°C. Some left their fans on all night long, but it's still unsure whether they work with such a widespread cold front.

And it's useless mentioning insurances, as they don't cover this period.

Publication date: 3/5/2018


NZ: New anti-stink bug treatment requirements for Italian shipping containers

After incursions of the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) in Santiago and Sydney, New Zealand’s biosecurity authority is not taking any chances.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has announced all sea containers from Italy will now require treatment for the invasive pest before arriving in New Zealand or on arrival.

“The new measure is a response to the increasing number of stink bug detections MPI officers are making at the border in cargo from Italy,” MPI biosecurity and environment manager Paul Hallett said in a release.

“We want to reduce the chance of this nasty bug getting into New Zealand.”

Imported containers from Italy had previously been subject to auditing and inspection by biosecurity officers but did not require treatment unless they carried vehicles or machinery, or there was evidence of contamination.

“Extending the treatment requirement to all shipping containers from Italy will add another layer of biosecurity protection,” Hallett said.

So far this season MPI officers have intercepted more stink bugs from Italy than any other country (39 out of 80 interceptions). The largest single find involved 118 dead bugs in a container of machinery and parts. 

The treatment requirements will last until the end of February and they will be reviewed prior to the start of next season in September. 

Kiwifruit Vine Health emphasized summer was a high-risk period for the pest hitchhiking in packages, luggage, cargo and on people.

“There have been fairly recent threats close to home – BMSB were found at the border by staff within a transitional facility in Christchurch, and after a number were found in Sydney late last year having smuggled themseves into the country on a freight container, the NSW Department of Primary Industries has called on residents to be extra vigilant for the bug and regularly inspect their vegetable and fruit gardens to limit the likelihood of spread,” KVH said.

“It’s important that everyone understands the seriousness of a BMSB invasion, as it is not just a horticultural pest but a real lifestyle pest as well. Not only will the bugs ruin crops and gardens, they will also infest buildings and houses. BMSB likes to hide in dark spaces, cracks and crevices.

“Keep an eye out for them and if you think you’ve found anything unusual catch it, snap it, and report it to the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) on 0800 80 99 66.

Brown marmorated stink bugs are a significant agricultural pest and household nuisance in the United States. They have recently established in Italy and appear to be spreading through Europe, causing losses for commercial growers.

Pest non-compliance in Italian kiwifruit

Nearly half of Italian kiwi shipments to Australia contain quarantine pests
The Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR) has reviewed import data for Italian kiwifruit over a five year period from 2011 to 2016. This review identified that 47 percent of consignments were detected with quarantine pests over this period.

DAWR said that it has given this information to the Italian Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry Policies (MiPAAF) with expectation that this non-compliance will be investigated and corrective actions implemented to reduce pest non-compliance. DAWR intends to monitor pest non-compliance during the 2017-18 season and if a significant reduction in pest noncompliance is not achieved, DAWR tells that it will consider additional measures.

Italian Kiwis to Aus 2

Pest interceptions on Italian kiwifruit consignments from 26 October 2017 to 17 November 2017:

  • Total Consignments: 13
  • Consignments requiring fumigation: 7 (54%)
  • Consignments reconditioned for excessive trash: 1 (8%)

Italian Kiwis to Aus

DAWR may seek to impose a pre-shipment treatment (e.g. fumigation) on this import pathway should pest non-compliance not be significantly improved. This would likely affect the 2018-19 season.

For more information:
Dominic Jenkin, CEO
Australian Horticultural Exporters' and Importers' Association
Tel: + 61 423 394 476

Source: - Publication date: 12/5/2017

NCF working with UK Packaging Co

Marco showcases Australian tie-up

British packing specialist aims to secure foothold in Australia after new state-of-the-art packing line installed at grape grower NCF

UK packaging and software company Marco has celebrated a major new installation by co-exhibiting with customer and Australian grape grower NCF at this year’s Asia Fruit Logistica.

The joint stand was designed to showcase the four-line packing system, which has enabled NCF to move from packing in the field, to a state-of-the-art packhouse operation.

Installed at the start of this year, the new system was finalised by Marco and NCF at last year’s show, said Marco managing director Mandy Hart.

“The stand is in a good location and hopefully it will give us a foothold in Australia,” she said.

Marco is expanding across the world, Hart continued, having just opened a new office in Africa alongside its headquarters in Kent, UK, and sites in the US, Canada and Latin America.

Source: Author: Nina Pullman