Freshfel Europe’s Annual Event 2022 took place yesterday in Brussels, gathering over 100 leading actors from the European and global fresh fruit and vegetable sector for Freshfel Europe’s AGM and Annual Event Public Conference.
The much-anticipated event, the Association’s first physical Annual Event since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, focused on the theme ‘Our momentum is now. Time to take the lead!’. High-level speakers from the European Commission and European Parliament exchanged with Freshfel Europe members on how the fresh produce sector can capitalize on opportunities for growth in the continued disruptive trading environment.
Over the past few years, the fresh fruit and vegetable sector has faced turbulent market conditions, first with Brexit, followed by COVID-19, 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 highlighted, “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”. Accordingly, the Annual Event was opened by the Association’s newly elected President Mr Salvo Laudani and MEP Franc Bogovič (EPP). This was followed by three topical policy sessions, first on the European Green Deal and Farm to Fork Strategy, featuring European Commission DG Sante Deputy Director General Claire Bury, secondly on trade and market developments, featuring European Commission DG Trade Chief Trade Enforcement Officer Denis Redonnet, and lastly on the assets of the CAP featuring European Commission DG Agri Head of Unit E.2 Wine, spirits and horticultural products Mauro Poinelli.
In the morning, the Freshfel Europe AGM took place, which is open to Freshfel Europe members and associated members. Mr Salvo Laudani (Fruitimprese) was elected as Freshfel Europe President to replace outgoing President Stephan Weist (REWE Group) who led the Association for the last four years. Mr Laudani will be supported by Mr Frederic Rosseneu (Greenyard) and Mr Anders Lind (Coop Trading), who were elected as First and Second Vice Presidents respectively. Upon his election, Mr Laudani praised Freshfel Europe under Mr 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”.
During the Freshfel Europe Annual General Meeting the Freshfel Europe 2022 Activity Report, covering the Association’s activities in the period June 2021 to May 2022, was presented to members. The Freshfel Europe 2022 Activity Report is available online here.