Newly elected president Salvo Laudani warned the trade faced continued market uncertainty

More than 100 industry leaders met in Brussels on Wednesday for Freshfel Europe’s Annual Event 2022, the first physical gathering since the start of the Covid pandemic.

Freshfel's 2022 Annual Event

Freshfel’s 2022 Annual Event

The conference featured high-level speakers from the European Commission and European Parliament, who discussed how the fresh produce sector can capitalise on opportunities for growth in the continued disruptive trading environment.

The Annual Event Public Conference was preceded by the Association’s Annual General Meeting (AGM), where Salvo Laudani of Fruitimprese was elected as Freshfel Europe president, and Greenyard’s Frederic Rosseneu and Anders Lind of Coop Trading were elected as first and second vice presidents respectively. Laudani replaces outgoing president Stephan Weist of Rewe, who led the association for the past four years.

Laudani praised Weist’s leadership for helping the sector to navigate an unprecedented period of market constraints, affirming that, “despite the fresh produce sector’s ability to sail recent storms, continued market uncertainty still lies ahead of us.

“We must continue to meet evolving consumer demands and maintain stable trading operations to consolidate the sector’s position with products with a high consumption recommendation and low environmental impact. “

Over the past few years, the fresh fruit and vegetable sector has faced turbulent market conditions, first with Brexit, followed by Covid, rising costs and logistics disruptions, the Belarussian embargo and currently the war in Ukraine, all in the face of climate change and its ramifications on fresh produce business.

Freshfel Europe general delegate Philippe Binard commented: “Now is the time for the fresh fruit and vegetable sector to take the lead, build on the momentum of the UN International Year of Fruit and Vegetables as well as heightened awareness of health and the environment and forge a sustainable strategy for the sector where sustainability means sustainable”.

Following an opening address by Laudani and MEP Franc Bogovič (EPP), the conference moved on to three topical policy sessions.

The first covered the European Green Deal and Farm to Fork Strategy, featuring European Commission DG Sante deputy director general Claire Bury, while the second was on trade and market developments, featuring European Commission DG trade chief trade enforcement officer Denis Redonnet.

The third and final discussion focused on the assets of the CAP featuring European Commission DG agri head of Unit E.2 Wine, spirits and horticultural products Mauro Poinelli.

The AGM was also an opportunity for Freshfel to present its 2022 Activity Report, covering the association’s activities in the period June 2021 to May 2022. The Freshfel Europe 2022 Activity Report is available online here.