Freshfel Europe pressed European Union authorities to support the fresh produce sector because of continued restrictions resulting from the Belarus embargo.
The embargo began at the beginning of the year, with at much as 500,000 tonnes of exports being compromised, including 300,000 from Poland, and between 10,000 to 60,000 tonnes from Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Greece and Italy. Belarus is the second-ranked country in terms of fresh produce exports for the EU behind the UK.
“This embargo is added on the not-yet-recovered Russian embargo, representing lost businesses worth €2.5 billion, while the Algerian embargo represents a business prejudice of €200 million,” Freshfel’s Philippe Binard said. “The fruit and vegetable sector is frustrated to be the bystander and the bargaining chips in geopolitical dispute. Altogether, €3 billion of fresh produce business needs to be repositioned annually.”
In a recent release, Freshfel noted the tremendous challenges with market diversification and also the difficulties in shifting planning around the long-term investments of orchards as well as business operations. Officials said that businesses with ties to Belarus importers have “specific products and varieties” that are being significantly impacted.
Binard said Freshfel has forwarded a plan to help protect the sector in the interim.
“We have identified and submitted to the European Commission five different areas of activities and a total of 12 measures where mechanisms need to be introduced,” he said. “Those covers assistance for the EU market stability, renewed efforts to open new markets, specific aspects relating to the Belarus and Russian embargoes as well as specific issues relating to customs procedure for re-export and transit.”
Freshfel said it would continue to monitor the embargo and will work with the commission closely as it tries to overcome the challenges.