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Exporting dried fruit to the United Kingdom

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Low-sugar, natural and additive-free products are the main drivers of dried fruit consumption in the United Kingdom. Opportunities can be found in exporting of prunes, dried apples, tropical dehydrated fruit and dried superfruit.


The United Kingdom is the largest market for dried fruit in the world, representing over 11% of total world imports and 50% of total European imports. Import volumes are steadily increasing, especially from developing country suppliers.

1 . Product description

Product definition

Dried fruit is fruit from which the majority of the original water content has been removed. This is done either naturally, through sun drying, or through the use of specialized dryers or dehydrators.

Dried fruit is used as a snacks or as ingredients in bakery, confectionary or breakfast cereals products.

This study covers general information regarding the market of dried fruits in the United Kingdom which is of interest to producers in developing countries.  Please see Table 1 with the products and their product codes. Please note that candied fruit (dried fruit preserved with sugar) is excluded from some of the analyses as it sometimes influence reliability of the statistical analysis. However analysis considering candied fruit is also given where relevant for developing country exporters.

Table 1: Products in the product group of dried fruits

Combined Nomenclature Number

Product

0805 (and corresponding 8 digit codes)

Dried oranges, clementines, monreales, satsumas, mandarins, wilkings, tangerines, tangelos, ortaniques, malaquinas, grapefruit, lemons, limes

0806 (and corresponding 8 digit codes)

Dried grapes

0813 (and corresponding 8 digit codes)

Other dried fruit and dried fruit mixtures

200600 (and corresponding 8 digit codes)

Candied fruit

Product specification

Quality

The general quality requirement for all dried fruit is that products should be of ‘sound, fair and of marketable quality’ for these products and requires them to bear the full name of their country of origin. Dried fruit and vegetables should meet Dry and Dried Produce Standards of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).

The most common quality requirements for dried fruit include the following.

  • Moisture content (maximum level is defined for specific products)
  • Sizing (different for every type of dried fruit). Some types of dried fruit are graded in different classes according to the number of fruits in 0.5 kg or 1 kg of products. (However in business practice in the United Kingdom classification is sometimes made by the number of fruits in 0.5 lb (1 pound (lb) = 454 grams) instead of kg.)
  • Specific cut (for certain types of dried fruit)
  • Level and types of used preservatives
  • Quality class (defined by uniformity and tolerances)

Tips

  • Check the UNECE website for dried fruit marketing standards regularly. You can read recommendations on trial before official changes or introductions of new standards.
  • See our study about dried mango for more information about the United Kingdom market for this specific product.

Labelling

The following labelling is used in trading edible nuts and dried fruit:

  • The name of the product should be declared and specifying if product is naturally dried or sugar is added (for specific types of dried fruit).
  • Regarding certain types of dried fruit which have seeds or pits, the label should declare presence of the seeds or pits (with pits or seeds/pitted or seedless).
  • It is common that besides grading, specifications include the crop year and variety.

Information for non-retail packaging has to be given either on the bulk packaging or in accompanying documents. Container labelling must give the following information:

  • name of the product
  • lot identification
  • name and address of the manufacturer, packer, distributor or importer
  • storage instructions.

However, lot identification, and the name and address of the manufacturer, packer, distributor or importer may be replaced by an identification mark.

In the case of retail packaging, product labelling must be in compliance with the European Union Regulation on food Information to consumers. This regulation defines more clearly nutrition labelling, origin labelling, allergen labelling and legibility (minimum font size for mandatory information). This regulation came into effect on December 13, 2014 but the obligation to provide nutrition information applies from December 13, 2016.

Packaging

There is no general rule for export packaging, but dried fruits are usually packaged in carton boxes with plastic liner inside.

Within the United Kingdom, the standard bulk package is 10 kilograms, but 12 kg cartons and 12–15 kg plywood joint boxes are also used. When packaged in corrugated or millboard cartons, the product should be transported on pallets.

The selected packaging size should be such that the dimensions are conformed to the conventional pallet sizes and cargo units may thus be produced. The most popular British pallet size is 1000x1200 mm.

Retail packaging includes plastic bags, plastic containers or foil bags.

Tip

2 . What makes the United Kingdom an interesting market for dried fruit?

The United Kingdom is the largest European importer of dried fruit and the largest world consumer of dried grapes. The products with rising demand are prunes, dried apples, dehydrated tropical fruit and dried superfruit.

Imports

High growth of imports of dried fruit from developing countries to the United Kingdom

  • The annual growth of dried fruit import value in the United Kingdom is significantly higher for imports from developing countries than imports from other countries.
  • Total imports of dried fruits to the United Kingdom grew by 5.3% in value reaching €446 million in 2015. Imports in quantity grew by 2% reaching 180 thousand tonnes. Faster growth in value than in volume is largely influenced by the higher prices of dried apricots and grapes imported from Turkey.
  • It seems that in the long term there will be difficulties in supplying demanded quantities of dried fruit. There is a higher demand than current supply of dried fruit in the United Kingdom market in recent years due to lower harvests in main production regions. This is also in part influenced by exporters’ focus on other growing markets such as Brazil, Russia, India and China.

Data source: Eurostat

Dried grapes the most imported dried fruit in the United Kingdom

  • The most popular dried fruits on the United Kingdom market are dried grapes. However, the largest and stable dried fruit import growth in the last five years was in the import of prunes. The value of imported prunes grew annually by an average rate of 30%, reaching €26 million in 2015.
  • The most significant growth in imported quantities was imports of dried apples.
  • The United Kingdom imported almost 18,000 tonnes of dried apples in 2015, which is double that in the same period five years ago.

Data source: Eurostat

Dried superfruit imports are increasing in the United Kingdom

  • For developing countries suppliers opportunities can be found in the export of dried prunes and dried tropical fruit which is increasing. There is also an increasing demand for dried superfruit such as freeze-dried berries, dried physallis and powdered dried superfruit from South American countries.
  • Almost 40% of all import value of dried fruit in the United Kingdom is from Turkey because of the large proportion of dried grapes and dried hazelnuts imported from Turkey.
  • The major imports of the United Kingdom from European countries involve both re-exports (e.g. tropical fruit from the Netherlands), as well as countries’ own production (e.g. prunes from France, dried apples from Italy, and dried currants from Greece).
  • Among the leading developing country suppliers the highest export growth to the United Kingdom was from South Africa. This growth is led by different types of tropical dried fruit followed by increasing exports of dried grapes.

Data source: Eurostat

Forecast

  • The outlook for imports of dried fruit in United Kingdom is positive in the long term and it is expected that imports will continue to increase in the coming years. However, in the short term, imports may be negatively influenced by the United Kingdom’s proposed withdrawal from the European Union. British Prime Minister May announced that the so-called Brexit may take place in 2019, but first extensive negotiations between the European Union and the United Kingdom will take place. The UK will also have to negotiate trade agreements with the rest of the world or fall back to the general WTO third-country status.

Product specific forecasts

  • Apricots: In 2016, stable demand is expected. Exports to Russia from Turkey are also expected to increase. Other developing countries can find opportunities in exporting higher quality dried apricots because of hail damage to crops in Turkey resulting in more industrial quality dried apricots and a shortage of high-quality apricots of bigger sizes for retail packaging.
  • Dried apples: China as the leading supplier of dried apples to the European market lacks higher-quality produce. This can mean opportunities for other developing country suppliers which can produce high-quality dried apples. Opportunities can also be found in the supply during summer months to United Kingdom when Chinese supply is usually insufficient.
  • Banana chips: Demand for banana chips is increasing in the United Kingdom market. Import of dried bananas in the United Kingdom has almost doubled, starting at 300 tonnes in 2012 and reaching almost 700 tonnes in 2015. As consumption of banana chips is also increasing in Asian countries, there will be a lot of opportunities for developing country suppliers to supply all of these markets. Last season products are already finished and the new production depends a lot on the weather conditions in the Philippines.
  • Dried cranberries: Production in the United States, which is the main world supplier of dried cranberries, is slowly decreasing because some producers are quitting production due to lower prices. In the longer term this means price increases and more opportunities on the market for developing country suppliers. Some developing countries have already started to increase their production of cranberries, such as Chile, Malaysia, Singapore and South Africa.
  • Dried pineapples, papayas and mangoes: Tropical dehydrated fruit is in high demand and many buyers in the United Kingdom currently cannot satisfy their needs. Prices are also increasing. In the long term production of tropical dehydrated fruit can provide opportunities for developing countries which are willing to start production and to compete with the major suppliers such as Thailand. This opportunity is especially relevant for natural dried tropical fruit where no sugar is added.
  • Prunes: The latest reports showed that supply from the United States in 2016 will be historically low and that Chilean production has also decreased. This market situation can provide opportunities for other developing country suppliers which can establish their position on the United Kingdom market. Improvement of the quality is the key issue for developing country suppliers of prunes as British retailers prefer being out of stock to offering low-quality prunes to final consumers.
  • Dried grapes: For more information about market for dried grapes read our study about dried grapes in Europe. In the coming year demand for jumbo golden raisins is set to increase, giving developing country suppliers opportunities on the United Kingdom market.

Tips

  • Consider investing in the production of dried apricots and dried grapes if the climate in your country is suitable. United Kingdom importers are very dependent on Turkish supply of dried apricots and dried grapes and are seeking new opportunities to diversify sourcing.
  • Consider supplying dried prunes and dried apples to British buyers. It seems that in the short term there will be increasing demand for these products.
  • You can find opportunities in products that will be increasingly in demand on the British market such as banana chips, cranberries and tropical dehydrated fruit. Dried superfruit is also in demand, including freeze-dried raspberries and blackberries, goji berries etc.
  • If you are a new exporter to the United Kingdom, consider negotiating with the specialised agents for dried fruit and edible nuts. They can help you to reach many European countries from a single entry point in the United Kingdom.
  • Take a closer look at developing country suppliers who are gaining share on the European market such as South Africa. See good practice examples on the website of the National Agricultural Marketing Council of South Africa.

Exports

Source: Eurostat

  • The United Kingdom is not a large exporter of dried fruit, with total exports representing less than 1% of total European exports. However, exports of dried fruit have been slightly but steadily  increasing and in 2015 reached nearly 9 thousand tonnes.
  • Exports are highly concentrated and Ireland alone accounts for more than 50% of total United Kingdom dried fruit exports.
  • In terms of value, United Kingdom exports of dried fruits has grown by 10.7% since 2011 and reached €32 thousand in 2015. Significantly faster growth in value than in volume is influenced by the increase of prices of dried fruit mixtures in recent years which are mainly sold to retail chains in Ireland.
  • In the range of the largest United Kingdom export destinations in the last five years, the highest export annual growth was to Turkey (46%). This export growth is mainly influenced by the increase of re-exports of prunes imported from Chile and the United States. In the last three years re-exports of prunes from the United Kingdom to Turkey have increased more than five-fold (from 71 to 372 tonnes).

Tips

  • Besides targeting your export of dried fruit to the United Kingdom, you can learn from British exporters and target their main export destination, Ireland, directly.
  • Decide whether to sell to importer/traders or to importer/packers/manufacturers. The latter category may be willing to pay slightly higher prices and allows building up a long-term relationship. However, mixing both types of channels is not recommended as importers are likely to end cooperation with you if they find out that you export to their suppliers.
  • Learn more about your competitors in our study on competition in edible nuts and dried fruit.

Production

Data source: Eurostat

  • Production of dried fruits in the United Kingdom has shown a steady increase in the last years However, the United Kingdom does not have significant drying facilities and production is mainly represented by the packing industry.
  • Beside the packing industry, which is launching new products every year, United Kingdom dried fruit production is also represented by processors of dried fruit. United Kingdom processors manufacture products such as chocolate-coated, glazed, filled and crystallised dried fruit.
  • Key processors of imported dried fruit in the United Kingdom market include Whitworths (United Kingdom’s largest manufacturer of dried fruit), Eat Natural (manufacturer of fruit and nut bars), Weetabix (manufacturer of cereals) and  Voicevale (UK).

Tip

  • Invest in drying and processing technology. United Kingdom processors and packers have very specific demands for dried fruit used in fruit bars, breakfast cereals, and in the confectionary and bakery industries. Those demands may include a specific shape and size of cut, moisture level, or drum-dried or freeze-dried fruits.

Consumption

Source: Eurostat

  • Consumption of dried fruits in the United Kingdom shows a stable increase, reaching €1.2 billion in 2014.
  • Regarding total consumption volume of dried fruit, the United Kingdom is the largest consumer of dried grapes in Europe, the second largest consumer of dried apricots and dates, and the third largest consumer of dried figs and prunes.
  • According to the International Nuts and Dried Fruit Council, the per capita consumption of the most popular dried fruit in the United Kingdom is represented in the following table.

Table 2: Estimated United Kingdom per capita consumption of dried fruit in 2014

Dried fruit

Consumption per capita in kg

Dried dates

1.28

Dried apricots

0.12

Dried figs

0.36

Dried grapes

2.15

Prunes

0.42

Source: International Nut and Dried Fruit Council

Estimated consumption is based on the estimated percentage of population that is considered regular consumers of dried fruit.

Tips

  • Learn more about production, consumption and trade statistics from the International Nut and Dried Fruit Council.
  • In targeting the United Kingdom market, make a distinction between companies that import dried fruits for domestic consumption and companies that import products and re-export them to other countries. In the first category, more attention should be paid to developments in retail sector and local consumption trends.

3 . Which trends offer opportunities on the United Kingdom market for dried fruit?

Consumer demand for vegan, gluten-free and natural food offers opportunities for exporters from developing countries. Food safety certification supported by frequent laboratory tests and combined with corporate social responsibility (CSR) standards can also be a great advantage to European markets suppliers.

In the June 2016 referendum on European Union membership, 52% voted to leave, resulting in the complex process of withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union. Regarding consumption and trade of dried fruit this withdrawal is likely to have the following consequences:

  • In the short term, no significant changes are expected apart from the weaker currency. In the long term, consumers in the United Kingdom will continue to consume dried fruits and the amount of direct imports, rather than through intermediaries, is likely to increase.
  • With the weaker English pound, prices will be more expensive; on the other hand prices of, for example, sultanas have dropped more than the rate of the pound against the dollar.
  • When this report was being written, the euro weakened by 2–3% as a result of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal, making imports for the euro countries somewhat more expensive as well.

Specific trends for dried fruit in the United Kingdom:

  • Decreasing the content of sugar in products is one of the main concerns in the United Kingdom market. After a petition, started by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, the United Kingdom has announced it will be the first European country to introduce a sugar tax for soft drinks.
  • It is not expected that the sugar reduction trend will significantly influence consumption of naturally dried fruit. Public Health England introduced a new guideline for a healthier diet which includes dried fruit too. The department is now recommending the public to eat ‘at least’ five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day including dried fruit. A redesigned 5 A DAY logo is now free and recommended for use on dried fruit packaging.
  • On the other hand, consumption of sugar-infused or sugar-coated products such as candied dried fruit may be influenced by this trend and it is expected that consumption of these products will decrease.
  • Consumption of superfruit is likely to increase, so the use of freeze-drying technology for berries is expected to increase too. The consumption of individually dried superfruit products in powdered forms is also likely to increase.
  • Organic dried fruit sales are expected to increase. This trend is driven by consumer motivation to buy food with ‘less pesticides’ and a desire to buy ‘natural, unprocessed’ food. The United Kingdom organic dried fruit market has been back to steady growth since 2012, showing a 4% value increase for 2014 and 4.9% for 2015. The largest seller of organic food in the United Kingdom is supermarket chain Tesco.
  • The use of dried fruits in home baking in the United Kingdom has declined but snack consumption of dried fruits has risen according to the National Dried Fruit Trade Association. Baking fruits tend to attract the older age profile whereas snacking fruits are more popular with the younger population.

Tips

  • With respect to general dried fruit trends, an extensive study about European market trends is available. See our study on trends in processed fruit and vegetables which includes a number of tips.
  • Use the opportunity for demand of low-sugar products to sell naturally dried fruit instead of sugar-infused dried fruit.
  • Consider selling  organic dried fruit to the United Kingdom market. Prospects include Crazy Jack, Planet OrganicQueenswood and Community Foods.

4 . With which requirements should dried fruit comply to be allowed on the United Kingdom market?

Legal requirements

All foods including dried fruit and edible nuts sold in the United Kingdom must be safe. This applies to imported products as well. Additives must be approved. Harmful contaminants, such as pesticide residues or excessive level of mycotoxins or preservatives, are banned. It should also be readily obvious from the labelling if a food contains allergens.

For more information about market requirements for dried fruit read our extensive study about buyer requirements for processed fruit and vegetables. Only specific issues related to dried fruit market requirements will be mentioned in this section of the report.

Food safety

  • Border control

In the event of repeated non-compliance rergarding specific products originating from particular countries, stricter conditions may apply. These stricter conditions in practice mean obligatory laboratory checks for a defined number of imported containers or trucks. Products from countries that have shown repeated non-compliance are put on a list included in the Annex of Regulation (EC) 669/2009.

There are currently increased checks for the presence of ochratoxin A in dried grapes from Afghanistan and Uzbekistan. Beside mycotoxin checks there are also increased sulphite checks ofimported dried apricots from Turkey and Uzbekistan.

  • Contaminants

In 2015, the number of notifications for dried fruit issued by the European Union’s Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) remained more or less stable. The most common contaminations regarding dried fruit are related to too high levels of mycotoxin ochratoxin A and of sulphites which are used as preservatives in dried fruit. Dried figs and dried apricots are the most problematic products regarding levels of contaminants.

  • Maximum residue levels (MRLs)

New legislation concerning the level of the pesticide Chlorpyrifos was introduced in 2016. This legislation started with the implementation on 10 August 2016. Chlorpyrios is widely used in the production of grapes.  

Packaging requirements

Packaging used for dried fruit must:

  • protect the taste, flavour and quality characteristics of the product
  • protect the product from bacteriological and other contamination (including contamination from the packaging material itself)
  • not pass on any odour, taste, colour or other foreign characteristics to the product.

The safety of food-contact materials must be evaluated and it must be ensured that there is no migration of unsafe levels of chemical substances from the material to the food.

Labelling requirements

In December 2014, EU Regulation 1169/2011 went into effect. The new labelling legislation forbids misleading consumers. Moreover, claims that any food prevents, treats or cures a human disease may not be made.

Another change is allergens labelling where allergens have to be highlighted in the list of ingredients. Requirements regarding information on allergens now also covers non-pre-packed foods including those sold in restaurants and cafés. Allergens include all nuts and sulphur dioxide and sulphites at concentrations of more than 10 mg/kg in terms of the total SO2.

Nutrition information is also mandatory for dried fruits.

Common requirements and niche requirements

  • Food safety certification

Food safety certification is often requested by United Kingdom importers. The most common certification schemes accepted on the British market is BRC.

  • Organic dried fruit

Environmental protection, organic and fair-trade certification schemes are becoming more and more popular in the United Kingdom. Many British importers are requested by their suppliers to have organic certification according to the requirements of the Soil Association. However many importers also follow the certification scheme of the European Union. In order to be labelled with the EU organic logo producers from developing countries must fulfil European organic farming requirements.

The European Union regulates both organic food and drink produced and/or processed within Europe and organic goods from elsewhere (Commission Regulation (EC) No. 1235/2008 with detailed rules concerning import of organic products from third countries).

Organic products can readily be imported from non-European countries whose rules on organic production and control are equivalent to Europe’s. However this is not a case for most developing countries except Argentina, Costa Rica and Tunisia.

For all other non-European countries, importers can have their organic products certified for importation into the European Union by independent private control bodies approved by the European Commission.

  • Ethnic cuisine requirements

As dried fruit is a common ingredient in Jewish cuisine, kosher certification is becoming more popular among importers.

Tips

  • In addition to the quality requirements mentioned in the product description, for a general overview of the buyer requirements in the European Union please refer to our study about  buyer requirements for processed fruit and vegetables
  • For good hygiene practice guidelines please refer to the Codex Alimentarius Standards for Code of Hygienic Practice for dried fruit and Code of Practice for the Prevention and Reduction of Aflatoxin Contamination in Dried Figs. By following recommended practices you will fulfil requirements on European food safety legislation.
  • Specifically for dried fruit, consult the EU Export Helpdesk where you can find European Union legislation for your selected products under the corresponding codes.
  • For information on commonly requested standards, check the International Trade Centre’s Standards Map, an online tool which provides comprehensive information on over 210 voluntary sustainability standards and other similar initiatives covering issues such as food.
  • Get food safety certification. However, check with the importers and experts if the food safety certification company you engaged is recognised by British buyers. Independent international accredited certification companies include SGS, CIS, TÜV and Bureau Veritas.

5 . What competition will I be facing on the United Kingdom dried fruit market?

For more information about competition on the European edible nuts and dried fruit market see our edible nuts and dried fruit competition study.

6 . Which channels can you use to put edible nuts and dried fruit on the United Kingdom market?

A specialised importer is the preferred channel for market entry in this sector. Many importers are also packers, as well as engaging in trading and wholesale activities. After importation, products reach different segments of the market as described in Figure 7.

Dried fruit is usually traded together with edible nuts by the same companies in the United Kingdom. The reason for this is their longer shelf life compared to fresh fruit and similar storing and handling conditions.

In some cases, developing country exporters can also supply the various segments directly without an importer as intermediary. However, this does not happen frequently except in cases of large bakery and confectionary companies that use dried fruit as an ingredient.

Generally, more dried fruit is repacked for the retail industry than as ingredient for manufacturing industry. However, quantities in channels are different for specific products. Dried grapes are the most common dried fruit ingredient used in the bakery industry.

The Aldi supermarket chain has the largest market share of dried fruit used as a baking ingredient in the United Kingdom, followed by Waitrose, internet sales and then Tesco.

In snack fruits, a new category has appeared, the so-called total bargain stores. Examples include Poundland, Poundworld, B&M and Home Bargains. This category of supermarkets has the largest share in the United Kingdom market for snack fruits, followed by Lidl and Aldi.

Figure 7: United Kingdom market channels for dried fruit

united_kingdom_market_channels_for_dried_fruit_0.png

Tips

7 . What are the end-market prices for dried fruit on the United Kingdom market?

An indication of margins according to final retail prices for dried fruit is not very precise as the whole sector involves many different products. The prices are also different between producing countries regarding type, fruit or nut variety and quality of products. Therefore, developing country exporters will only have a very rough general impression of price developments.

Roughly speaking, the Cost, Insurance and Freight (CIF) price represents around 25– 50% of the retail price of a retail package of dried fruit.

The best option to monitor prices is to compare your offer with the offer from the largest competitors.

A very rough breakdown of the prices is shown in the following table.

Table 3: Edible nuts and dried fruit price breakdown

Steps in export process

Type of price

Average share

 of the retail price

Production of fruit or edible nuts

Raw material price (farmers’ price)

5% (in case fresh fruit is used as raw material for drying)

15–25% if the product is already processed

Handling, processing and selling bulk product

FOB or FCA price

30%

Shipment

CIF price

32–35%

Import, handling and processing

Wholesale price (value added tax included)

60%

Retail packing, handling and selling

Retail price (for average packaging of 250 g)

100%

Source: Market researcher compilation based on industry sources

Please note that share of the retail prices paid to farmers varies a lot between producing countries and type of product. It also varies from year to year, depending on market conditions as retailers tend to keep stable prices for final consumers despite any fluctuating import prices.

If farmers add value to their produce through differentiated quality, food safety, certification and processing steps, their prices can be higher. For example, organic and fair-trade certification, controlled drying, sun drying, sorting or shelling may add value to the products.

Please review our market information disclaimer.