RSA citrus industry suspends EU exports

For fresh fruit and vegetable marketing and distribution in Asia
Martyn Fisher

BY MARTYN FISHER

RSA citrus industry suspends EU exports

'Major issues' forecast for UK consumers in the next few weeks as South African ban on exports to the EU takes effect

RSA citrus industry suspends EU exports

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Consumers can expect "major issues" after the South African citrus industry decided to suspend the export of citrus fruit to the EU.

Growers ceased packing citrus fruit for the EU market as of yesterday (8 September). Only fruit packed and inspected for export up to 8 September 2014 will be shipped to the EU.

The decision was taken at a special meeting of the Citrus Growers Association (CGA)'s Citrus Black Spot Committee.

The export suspension is not proposed to include mandarins, although Minneolas will be included in the suspension, and fruit originating from designated CBS-free areas (South Africa's Western and Northern Capes) will continue to be exported.

Growers ceased packing citrus fruit for the EU market as of yesterday (8 September). Only fruit packed and inspected for export up to 8 September 2014 will be shipped to the EU.

Nigel Jenney, chief executive of the UK's Fresh Produce Consortium, which has been in dialogue with the CGA, said: .“We recognise that there will be major issues for the UK citrus market which will impact on UK consumers over the coming weeks.

“FPC has supported the strenuous efforts by the South African citrus industry to implement additional control measures for this season and to maintain supplies to the UK citrus market. We recognise that this is a difficult decision to reach, particularly with contention over the EFSA’s Pest Risk Assessment and questions raised about the accuracy of recent interceptions made by certain EU member states.

"We understand that the South African citrus industry has raised these concerns with the European Commission and we will keep members updated of any further developments."

He added: “We are particularly disappointed that the European Commission has driven its ‘fortress Europe ‘ mentality to this point and refused to adopt a regionalised risk-based approach, which would have recognised the position of citrus non-growing EU Member States. The South African citrus industry has invested heavily to meet the EU requirements based on a questionable scientific interpretation of actual risk.

“In addition we are urging the European Commission to reconsider the UK proposal for a derogation for citrus for processing.”

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