Market Trends for Horticulture
Horticulture produce which include fruits and vegetables has evolved overtime from single bulk packs to focus on convenience ranges for the consumers. Convenience meals (ready meals) and ready to cook is the fashion in the developed countries especially Europe. There is also an increasing preference for safe and healthy food, fruits, vegetables, organic products, exotic and ethnic food.

The first thing you probably do as a potential exporter is to finding whether there is a demand for your product in the international market.
  • Does your product fit the taste of the consumers?
  • Which country/countries should you focus on?
  • When the idea to enter the market first comes up, it is time to do some basic market research
Having established that you want to proceed with the preparations for an market like the European Union (EU) the next step is finding out what the requirements are for your products in order to be allowed to be marketed in the international market which are the buyer requirements, or market access requirements, are all the requirements you can expect from your EU buyer. They can be divided into two groups: Legislation and Non Legislation requirements.

1. Legislation
Legal requirements set the basis for what requirements products marketed in the EU must meet. Products that fail to meet these requirements are not allowed on the EU market.

2. Non-legislation
Additional requirements go beyond legislation, as companies can go further in their requirements than legislation. The main categories of additional requirements are environmental requirements and social (labour) requirements.

Legal product requirements in the fresh fruit and vegetables sector
When it comes to food, the main focus in the EU is consumer safety. This has lead to the introduction of legal requirements focusing on hygiene and traceability, emphasizing the importance of guaranteeing hygiene measures throughout the chain, “from farm to fork”, in order to guarantee that the food marketed in the EU is safe. These legal requirements are applicable to all food marketed in the EU.

In addition, EU legislation establishes maximum levels for certain pesticides and contaminants that can be present in food. As a producer of fresh fruit and vegetables, you need to find out if there are limits set for you product.

As clearly shown by the categories of legislation already discussed, the starting point for EU food legislation is no specific product, but all foodstuffs placed on the market. In certain cases, however, the EU has established product specific legislation in addition to the two categories mentioned above. This is also the case for fresh fruit and vegetables.

Examples of food legislation applicable to all food products marketed in EU:
  • The General Food Law Regulation (EC) 178/2002)
  • Hygiene of foodstuffs (Regulations (EC) 852/2004; 853/2004; 854/2004)

Examples of legislation restricting pesticides and contaminants in the food product marketed in the EU:
  • Maximum residue levels (MRLs) in foodstuffs (Regulation (EC) 396/2005
  • Contaminants in food (Regulation (EC) 1881/2006)
  • Microbiological contamination of foodstuffs (Regulation (EC) 2073/2005)
Examples of legislation specifically focusing on the fresh fruit and vegetables sector:
•Quality standards for the marketing of fresh fruit and vegetables (Regulation (EC) 2200/96)

Additional requirements are requirements set by consumers and institutions The basic principle behind is that the market is always developing and new issues are getting attention all the time. In time, this may result in new legal requirements, but this is not always the case. Sometimes the scope of the requirements fall outside the scope of the EU legislation: the EU can only interfere with issues directly related to the product marketed in the EU, as all countries have the freedom to govern over their own labour laws for instance. Companies, however, can choose to act and require more from their suppliers, in order to live up to customer expectations and company values.
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