British growers at this year’s Fruit Logistica say they are keen to work with European businesses post-Brexit – but they need political certainty.
One of the main concerns at this year’s event in Berlin was around exports – with many growers and seed producers from the UK questioning what the future holds for the industry once the UK leaves the EU.
The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) has once again attended the fresh produce event this month – joining over 3,000 exhibitors and 78,000 trade visitors from around the world.
And the AHDB Pavilion welcomed a number of growers from the UK, including Archie Gibson of Agrico UK, who deals in high quality seed potatoes with customers and growers worldwide.
“One of the most immediate challenges we all face is the uncertainty around ability to export into European countries and North African countries where we have arrangements under European Union rules and regulations,” Archie said.
“We’ll be looking for UK industry and officials to have permission to arrange bilateral agreements with these countries. Egypt, Israel, Morocco, the Canary Islands and so on.
“At the moment Defra is saying everything can come into the UK but the same is not true in reverse. We need to see some movement on that.
“My attendance at different meetings in Berlin, convinces me that industry wants solutions and we do not want the frustration of politics getting in the way of free movement of goods.”
Fruit Logistica is held every year for all sectors of the fresh produce business and offers an ideal platform for growers and producers to network with key influencers across the globe.
Tim Elcombe, of Bedfordshire Growers, added: “Fruit Logistica is a great place to showcase my business and provides good opportunities to meet existing customers, try to find new opportunities within the UK and also within Europe and the rest of the world.
“With Brexit happening at the end of March, we have got to try to turn it into a positive and look at opportunities where we can showcase British produce.”
With Brexit in mind, AHDB’s export team will be working to maintain seed export flows this year with a renewed focus on existing markets.
“Countries such as Egypt, Morocco and Israel are some of the largest importers of British seed potatoes,” said Rob Burns, AHDB Head of Crop Trade Market Development.
“AHDB, along with Scottish Government and industry, have to ensure the high health and quality of GB seed is appreciated by government and plant health officials in those markets, so that we continue to be their favoured supplier.
“That’s why this year we will be hosting delegations from countries like Egypt, so they can see the crop in the field, meet our exporters, visit SASA, and get an in depth understanding of our industry’s commitment to quality.”