Fredo highlights the most important stories as Brexit takes a serious turn in the fresh produce media

As Britain moves closer to the Brexit deadline with little sign of reaching agreement with the European Union, the concern about the effect of a no-deal is rising in the fresh produce trade. Not only is Brexit causing major concerns about the future of fresh produce trade in Europe and the UK. The prospect of no-deal will dominate much of the discussion as the fresh produce world gathers in Berlin this week for Fruit Logistica.

Listen to Lord Digby James – from fruitnet.com

South Africans watched with frustration and amazement last week as the British Parliament muddle through another late night of debates and votes on Brexit. There was however one person on Skynews who spoke some sense.

Lord Digby Jones speaking his mind

Skynews commentators where debating the chances of the British Prime Minister getting the EU to open the previous agreement over Brexit. This is to see if changes could be made that will be approved on both sides of the channel. The Skynews reporter tried her best to paint as bleak a picture as she could. “This is hopeless,” she said. “She had two years to get something agreed which the Parliament would accept. How can she do it in two months – she is playing for no-deal!”

Enter the formidable frame of Lord Digby James – a man who no doubt spends many happy hours on the soft seats of the House of Lords. And for that matter possibly enjoying a few good G&T’s in the ageless bars of the House.

“It is in the interest of the EU to have an agreement – they do not want a no-deal,” said the gruff voice of Lord Digby James.

“What do you think Macron will do if the French fruit growers descent on Paris with their tractors to dump the fruit on the Champs Elysées which they cannot get to the UK,” asked the Lord.

Over the years Fredo has seen many of those European farmer protests. They really put fear in the hearts of politicians.

Researchers take it one step further – from fruitnet.com

The Imperial College London and the University of Liverpool took the Brexit debate further, at least as far as the produce industry is concerned. Price rises on fruit and vegetables is likely to reduce consumption, contributing to an estimated 12,400 more deaths from cardiovascular disease by 2030, the two institutions warned.

Brexit threatens fresh produce supply in UK

They say the price of imported fruit and veg is likely to rise significantly after Brexit. Brexit could contribute to thousands more deaths from heart attacks and strokes by 2030.

In one of the first studies to date to look at the impact of Brexit on food imports and public health, researchers looked at how varying Brexit scenarios would lead to increasing costs for imported fruit and vegetables, resulting in people potentially eating less and increasing their risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD).

The findings, reportedly published in the journal BMJ Open, reveal that all the trade scenarios they looked at would reduce fruit and veg intake in England, with a ‘no-deal’ Brexit being the most damaging to public health. They predicted it would lower fresh produce consumption and contribute to around 12,400 additional deaths from CVD in England between 2021 and 2030.

EU trade pact looms large for NZ – says fruitnet.com

A free trade agreement between European Union and the UK could be finalised by year’s end, while moves are also made to protect trade ties with the UK.

NZ deal in Europe

New Zealand is closing in on a free trade agreement (FTA) with the European Union, while a similar deal will be on the agenda with the UK once it finalises Brexit arrangements. The move towards a trade pact with the EU comes after New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, travelled to Europe recently.

After meeting with Ardern, European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, expressed his desire to finalise a deal by the end of 2019. “We should do everything possible to conclude the trade agreement between New Zealand the EU in the course of this year,” Juncker said following his meeting with Ardern.

Chile signs continuity agreement with the UK – reports Fruitnet.com

The Chileans move to ensure that their exports to the UK stay on track after Brexit.

The UK and Chile have signed a new trade continuity agreement that will allow British businesses and consumers to continue benefiting from preferential trading arrangements with Chile after it leaves the European Union. 

The UK Ambassador to Chile,  Jamie Bowden signed the UK-Chile agreement in Santiago with Chilean Foreign Minister Roberto Ampuero. 

UK deal with Chile

It means that UK manufacturers will continue to benefit from preferential access to the Chilean market to sell their goods, and UK consumers will benefit from lower prices on Chilean goods, such as wines, fruits and nuts and other products.

“This certainty will help to further strengthen the trading relationship between the UK and Chile which was worth £1.8bn and grew by 11 per cent in 2017,” the British government said, adding that it expected to sign a number of other agreements in the coming weeks at it prepared to leave the EU on 29 March.

Trade in goods and services between the UK and Chile has grown by 9 per cent per year on average since the agreement was provisionally applied in 2003. In that time, UK exports to Chile have grown by 16 per cent on average each year and a total increase of 351 per cent.

The  agreement also protects intellectual property rights and maintains preferential market access for trade in services.

Freshfel Europe says trade should continue to stimulate consumption

The European organisation Freshfel Europe has ask the fruit and vegetable sector to continue to stimulate consumption despite uncertainty.

More consumption needed in Europe

In a statement Freshfel says that despite high uncertainty in the fruit and vegetable business environment, it urges the sector to continue to stimulate consumption for the benefit of European consumers. “The current multiplicity of uncertainties, including Brexit, the on-going Russian embargo, the growing impact of increasing climatic events and other market access challenges, should serve to further stimulate the sector to boost the current low consumption levels across Europe.

Waiting for conditions to return to normal may result in missed opportunities, says Freshfel Europe. It says daily intake levels in Europe remain below the minimum level recommended by the World Health Organisation.