Freshfel Europe, the European fresh fruit and vegetable association, has welcomed the adoption by the European Parliament of a new framework for the promotion of agricultural products, one which apparently provides more scope for stimulating demand for the promotion of fresh produce by significantly boosting funds available for that purpose.
Describing the decision to approve a compromise package of promotion policy reforms as "a step in the right direction for the fresh produce sector", Freshfel confirmed that the European Parliament, Council and Commission would finalise the new scheme in the coming weeks.
The new framework will increase EU funding for agriculture promotion programmes from roughly €60m at present to €200m by 2020, of which the lion's share is expected to remain with the fresh fruit and vegetable sector.
The revised scheme will also see the EU's own contribution rise to around 75 per cent of the total fund, making it easier to put European programmes in place in collaboration with partners in different EU member states.
Importantly, the text approved by the European Parliament this week keeps alive the possibility of undertaking promotional and information campaigns both on the internal market and in non-EU countries, news which will be welcomed by those in Italy and Greece, for example, running projects to promote fresh fruit and vegetables in overseas markets like the US, Russia, China and India.
The prospect of having a bigger promotional budget represents a second positive development for the European fresh produce trade after the recent increase in funding for the EU school fruit scheme, from €90m to €150m.
According to Freshfel, this should provide "favourable conditions" to emphasise the fun, taste and health aspects associated with fresh fruit and vegetable consumption.
Philippe Binard, general delegate of Freshfel, commented: “The reform will open new opportunities for the sector to get access to increased resources to stimulate the consumption of fresh produce, and indicates that [there is] awareness at EU level to get better support for information and communication actions to boost fresh produce consumption."
Freshfel said it expected the new promotion policy would come into force in 2015.