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Fresh Fruit and Vegetables

Exporting fresh beans, peas and other leguminous vegetables to Europe

Europe imported around 30 thousand tonnes of fresh peas in 2017, which were mainly sugar snaps and snow peas (mangetout) from developing countries. The market for sugar snaps and snow peas is competitive and much more focused on quality than the common peas and beans, especially in the retail channel. Buyer requirements are becoming stricter each year, especially with regard to pesticide residues and other contaminants. For these specific peas, especially sugar snaps, opportunities for developing countries can be found all year round.

Which requirements should fresh fruit or vegetables comply with to be allowed on the European market?

Europe is very demanding about food safety, which is why dealing with fresh agricultural products is subject to various legal and other buyer requirements. But there are also opportunities to distinguish yourself by applying additional or niche market quality standards. This document provides an overview of the most common requirements and standards, as well as the specific requirements that apply to niche markets such as organic or Fairtrade fruit and vegetables.

What are the most promising European markets for fresh pineapples from West Africa?

The international pineapple market has shifted from a fast growing into a slow growing market. The pineapple is well known and is found more often at the fresh corners in supermarkets as ‘bulk exotic fruit’. The focus in the exotic fruit corner is more on new unknown species. Since the mid 1990s, the MD-2 variety largely dominates the EU market as most consumers like its sweet taste. It has become the standard variety, produced in high volume, mainly in Costa Rica, and sales is backed up by smart logistics and marketing.

What are the European buyer requirements for fresh pineapples from West Africa?

Buyer requirements are all the requirements you can expect from your EU buyer. They can be divided into two groups: legislative and non-legislative requirements that are related to food safety, environment and to social issues. GlobalGAP, MRL norms and increasingly social requirements are the first standards that should be met when starting a relation with volume retailers (super or hypermarkets), especially in Western and Northern EU countries.

How can I get fresh pineapples from West Africa on the European market?

Although the pineapple is well known in the most EU countries, little is known about the existence of 100 different varieties. As the former most popular smooth Cayenne is now completely being replaced by the MD-2 on the supermarket market shelve, there is still much to do on marketing and promotion of the other varieties now being preferred by a few connoisseurs.

Through what channels can I get fresh pineapples from West Africa on the European market?

Pineapple exports are controlled by large-scale plantations owned by the agro-multinationals (Del Monte, Dole, Chiquita, Fyffes, Banacol, Compagnie Fruitière) with organised value chains. Large EU retailers take up around 75% of total pineapple sales. They want constant availability of pineapples and to compete with the other retailers/players. Almost all pineapples are transported by sea and enter Europe mainly via Belgium and the Netherlands. Supply is geared to minimize lead times from smallholder to consumer.

What are the terms for delivery and payment on the European fresh pineapple market?

Success in exporting perishable fruit such as pineapples does not just depend on their quality, or the season. Many first trials have not led to orders because of unclearly defined or misunderstood terms of delivery and payment. You will have to compete with the well-organised agro-multinationals. Buyers of supermarkets could ask orders at the last moment but think twice before saying ‘yes’. The biggest challenge here is to be clear and gain trust, and frankly say to what extent you can meet his request.

What competition will I have to deal with on the European fresh pineapple market?

As the market growth has slowed for the largest (MD-2) variety sold in the EU, competition has intensified. Costa Rica still supplies 84% of the EU fresh pineapple imports and the market is led by the five agro-multinationals. Following the success of MD-2 new companies from Costa Rica and other Developing countries entered the market. West African exporters also take their benefit.

What client services should you offer European importers of fresh pineapples?

Finding buyers is a very important part of the export process. Your challenge is to find the right trade partner that is suitable to handle your product and to whom you are able to supply. The essential element of any trading relationship is trust. If you choose for export, you must find a common understanding - even if your cultures are different - and speak a ‘common language’. In your selection, the best would be to search trade partners (buyers) for a long period. Your own judgement and instincts are most important in this respect.

What are the product characteristics of fresh pineapples on the European market?

When exporting to the EU, the most important characteristic of pineapples is it that they are non-climacteric fruits, which are harvested ripe. Therefore, it is very crucial not to harvest them to early, to consider the commercial attractiveness of its colour and to pack them properly. These issues are covered in this module for each variety – Smooth Cayenne, MD-2, Sugarloaf and Victoria.


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