The Canadian Produce Marketing Association (CPMA) and its global produce affiliates are urging their respective policymakers to implement measures to safeguard the global supply of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Ron Lemaire, president of the CPMA and chairman of the Global Coalition of Fresh Produce, says “our sector has shown great resilience in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and has guaranteed consumers’ access to healthy and nutritious products. But rising costs will ultimately be passed on to consumers in the form of reduced supplies and higher prices.”
According to the report, such an outcome will make it harder for consumers the world over to eat a healthy diet. Indeed, to keep their food expenses in check, people will increasingly rely on low-cost staple foods or turn to unhealthy calories, such as those from soft drinks. In addition, the economic difficulties faced by fresh produce exporters in developing countries counter the impact of efforts towards poverty reduction and threaten the livelihoods of millions of families.
The report calls upon national and international policymakers to urgently implement a number of measures to safeguard the supply of affordable fresh fruits and vegetables to consumers worldwide – and ensure the viability of a sector that is an important contributor to the economies of developed and developing countries alike. “First and foremost, governments and international bodies across the globe should recognize fruits and vegetables as essential goods,” says Robert Guenther, chief public policy officer for the International Fresh Produce Association, and a member of the Coalition’s steering committee. “By establishing that fruits and vegetables are fundamental to the health of populations and an essential element in the shift towards more sustainable food systems, other measures can be unlocked to ensure their consistent supply.”
Among the measures in the report are:
help fresh produce operators shoulder the burden of increased energy bills;
promote the creation of safe and good-paying jobs in the fresh produce industry and in transportation, and encourage young people to pursue careers in these sectors;
ensure undisrupted and priority access for fresh fruit and vegetables to all transportation networks, and develop integrated, multimodal transportation solutions;
create priority lanes for imported fresh produce, to ensure quick offloading and transit in seaports and other points of arrival;
address the causes of inefficiencies at seaports, and implement measures to minimize bottlenecks and improve operational practices to ensure the seamless movement of fresh produce;
work towards the harmonization and mutual recognition of sanitary, phytosanitary and other market entry requirements to enable operators to seize export and import opportunities;
promote the consumption of fruits and vegetables by exempting fresh produce from value added tax, stepping up information campaigns and offering more fruits and vegetables through school feeding programs.
The Global Coalition of Fresh Produce brings together fresh produce associations from around the world, based on their joint vision to create resilient global value chains for fruits and vegetables that bring economic, environmental and societal benefits. Current members are Afruibana, the Association of Banana Exporters of Ecuador (AEBE), the Canadian Produce Marketing Association (CPMA), the Committee Linking Entrepreneurship–Agriculture–Development (COLEAD), Freshfel Europe, the Fruit and Vegetable Growers of Canada (FVGC), the International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA), the Southern Hemisphere Association of Fresh Fruit Exporters (SHAFFE) and United Fresh New Zealand.