A game of two fresh produce halves

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News and insight for North America's fresh produce buyers
Mike Knowles

BY MIKE KNOWLES

@mikefruitnet

A game of two fresh produce halves

There’s something about the fresh produce trade that reminds me of football, believe it or not.

A game of two fresh produce halves

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Both are made up of private groups seeking to attract the biggest market share and rise to the top of their respective leagues. At times, the game is a frustrating, tense affair; at other times, it’s an exciting and captivating spectacle. In some countries, those paying for the pleasure of sampling what these teams have to offer are looking for a high quality, good-looking product; whereas in other instances the aesthetics are not so much of an issue as long as the end result is the right one.

Europe’s fresh produce business, much like its football industry, has relied increasingly on exports from Latin America in the past few decades to sustain it and enable it to improve further. Some may have feared that this trade was a threat to local, home-grown talent, but they appear actually to have raised standards in European competition and encouraged more people to part with their money.

Sometimes, some of the industry’s best players put aside their differences and compete together on the international stage. Putting on their country’s colours, they become collaborators instead of competitors, with a shared goal and a team ethic. In the fruit and vegetable sector during the last few years, the Southern Hemisphere’s leading exporters have gone further still and formed a regional partnership, promoting competitive cooperation through the Southern Hemisphere Association of Fresh Fruit Exporters. As a result partly of this development, we are now noticing smooth transitions between Europe’s season and counter-season for a number of products – most notably for apples, pears and berries but also for kiwifruit, stonefruit and grapes, although less so for citrus. Imagine if Pelé, Maradona and Alfredo Di Stéfano had teamed up with George Best, Johan Cruijff and Zinedine Zidane; that would have been some front line indeed.

I’m really looking forward to visiting Argentina for the very first time at the end of this month, and not just because I’m a huge fan of Maradona (and steak). My trip coincides with the Southern Hemisphere Congress, Eurofruit Magazine’s annual trade conference, which takes place in Buenos Aires on 28-30 November 2007. The event, the only one of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere, brings together many of the country’s leading fresh produce companies as well as a good number of the regional trade’s foremost operators and service providers. It’s half-time in terms of Europe’s annual supply calendar, and this issue is designed to blow the whistle for the start of the second half.

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