“Polycrisis” is shaping today’s fruit and vegetable sector

From October 12 to 14, 2022, gfa-consulting Ltd hosted interested parties at the 16th Producer Congress ICOP in its hometown Weiz in Eastern Styria. The need for talks and discussions among the approximately 120 participants from 16 different European countries was noticeably high. From the aftermath of the Corona crisis to the current war in Ukraine and all associated inflationary and cost increases, to longer-term challenges such as climate change: numerous topics were brought to the fore at the three-day event.

Click here to go directly to the picture gallery.

The first day of the conference was devoted entirely to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which will enter a new period in 2023. The implementation of the directives is accompanied by great uncertainty and numerous challenges in many EU member states, as the speakers from Austria, France and Portugal emphasized.

The second day of the Congress, on the other hand, focused on the pervasive crisis that characterizes today’s fruit and vegetable sector. “We are in the midst of a ‘polycrisis’,” Luc Vanoirbeek of Copa Cogeca briefly summarized the situation. The subsequent presentation by Ukrainian agro-expert Maxim Kulik was impressive, as he used very concrete facts and figures to describe how devastating the consequences of the war are for the agricultural economy, including fruit and vegetables in particular, in his home country.”

Theresia Leitinger, Law Offices Dr. Leitinger

Data management and innovations
Data privacy, security and management was the overarching theme of the day’s second session. Several experts on data protection and infomanagement had their say. In times of increasing digitalization, this area is naturally gaining massive relevance and, according to the experts who spoke, should be taken extremely seriously.

Subsequently, a number of innovations and solutions for meeting today’s challenges were presented. ECOwind, a subsidiary of the BayWa Group, gave insights into fruit voltaics, a combination of hail protection technology and photovoltaics. Tom van Zundert and Mark Looije of Looije Agro then provided insights into novel greenhouse technologies.

“Gas will continue to be necessary in the coming years, as we are far from being able to get by on electric power. Nonetheless, electricity has great potential in the greenhouse industry due to the high surpluses,” they said. Their compatriot Nikki Hulzebos of the Dutch industry association GroentenFruitHuis referred to the increasing number of sustainability labels which, according to him, lead to “confusion and uncertainty” among consumers. “It would make more sense to introduce an overarching standard instead of different labels per individual grocery chain.”

Nikki Hulzebos of GroentenFruitHuis

Targeted marketing on the Iberian peninsula
The thematic finale of the second day of the event was a block of presentations on fruit and vegetable consumption and fresh produce marketing. The Italian association of apple producer organizations Assomela had its say, as did a representative of retailer Billa. On the Iberian peninsula in particular, the targeted marketing of fruit and vegetables seems to be successful. Thanks to the joint marketing initiative Portugal Fresh, Portugal has been able to assert itself as a strong export partner over the last decade, and total sales have increased from 2.2 billion to 2.8 billion euros. The total export value of fruit and vegetables has approximately doubled in the same period (Germany is currently the fourth largest export market).

Raquel Herce from Mint

According to Raquel Herce of the Spanish marketing agency, the fruit and vegetable sector is in danger of missing a unique opportunity. That’s because fast-food chains are now claiming plant-based diets, even though the fruit and vegetable sector has been driving the trend. “We need to invest more in targeted marketing. Also, we need to look at trends not just as temporary developments, but as new opportunities. In a nutshell: We need to recognize and exploit added values.”

Click here to go directly to the picture gallery.

For more information: icop.at

Leave a Comment