New products and emboldened retail channels highlight Fruit Logistica 2016

Consumption of produce around the world continues to be very favourable
FRUIT LOGISTICA 2016 - U.S. Apple Export Council -

Berlin in February can be pretty frigid, but when walking around 3,000 booths filled with fresh fruits and vegetables the mood becomes decidedly more upbeat.

This year’s Fruit Logistica featured exhibitors from 84 countries presenting a complete overview of the produce industry to more than 70,000 visitors from about 130 countries.

Attendees witnessed the launch of 27 new products, from red apple juice and a small seedless watermelon the size of a cantaloupe to Cipolla Bianca di Margherita, a new Italian sweet onion, and sweeter than sweet Bonbon Medjool dates.

According to Messe Berlin CEO, Dr. Christian Göke, Fruit Logistica marked a milestone this year with an unprecedented 70,000 visitors.

"We are delighted by the new attendance record as well as by the high intensity of business and professional networking. The international scope of this event could be experienced in a very unique way," Göke said.

The show floor featured a few Canadian growers including Organic Trade Company Canada Inc., Les Jardins Paul Cousineau & Fils, Inc., BC Blueberry Council and Sutherland S.A. Produce Inc. Buyers from Loblaw, Walmart and Sobeys were spotted on the show floor.

According to the latest figures from AMI, the agricultural market information service based in Bonn, some 1.05 billion tons of vegetables (excluding melons) and 830 million tons of fruit (including melons) were grown worldwide in 2015. Production figures for both fruit and vegetables have steadily increased in recent years.

Almost 9% of global fruit production and nearly 4% of global vegetable production entered cross-border trade as fresh produce. Compared to the previous year, the EU fruit crop decreased by 2% in 2015 to 38 million tons. With approximately 61 million tons, the EU vegetable harvest decreased by more than 3% compared to the previous year.

One of the educational sessions that held particular interest for Canadian food retailers was on the impact of discounters on the British retail food market.

John Giles of Promar International, an agricultural consultancy, addressed the issue during the Future Lab program. Giles said that since the 1960s discounters have occupied a small niche in the market in the U.K., but Aldi now accounts for 5.5% and Lidl holds a 3.9% share of the market.

In 2015 both of these German discounters expanded, by 15% in the case of Aldi, while Lidl grew by 9%, at the expense of the established players. The economic crisis of 2008 helped to change British attitudes. “Shopping became thriftier, and the quality of the products is much better than people had thought,” Giles said.

While traditional supermarkets are closing, the discounters are expanding aggressively: over the next three years Aldi plans to increase its current total of 560 locations in the U.K. to 760, and to boost sales from £5.3 billion to £8.2 billion.

“This is a loud wake-up call to the established players”, Giles concluded.

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