Three important developments are affecting developing country producers of fresh fruits and vegetables targeting the EU: stricter food safety demands, changing importer roles, and shifting global trade patterns.
Buyer demands regarding food safety are getting stricter all the time. Under pressure of campaigns by Greenpeace, supermarkets in Germany, for instance, are toughening restrictions on so-called Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs), sometimes even going beyond official EU legislation. Other European countries are expected to follow. In addition to these market requirements, individual supermarkets often impose their own standards, such as individual labels or certificates. Although complying with the demands of the buyers does not mean better prices, your exporters should stick to regulations like Globalgap or the BRC protocol. If they don´t, they may be out of business.
Another trend is the changing role of EU importers who, on behalf of their clients, have turned into full service providers required to guarantee year-round supplies and product availability. As a consequence, these importers are increasingly on the look-out for professional, large suppliers or suppliers groups. Small and single means no exports. Also, demands in the area of handling, forward loading, shipment speed and quality control during shipments are rising. Demands like these call for a united approach. As a BSO, you may have to help your exporters form joint grower groups. Promoting teamwork in the sector is one priority you can´t afford to miss. Only by joining arms can BSOs and exporters together face the market.
A third trend relates to changes in global trade patterns for fruits and vegetables. Fast growing markets in Asia, Russia and the Middle East are importing more and more. As a result, the EU may lose some of its importance, as DC exporters become less dependent on it for exports. This may give them more negotiation power with EU buyers.