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Fruit and vegetables: exports up in 2020 (+ 5.8%), 264 million more

Leap in the positive balance (+ 90.4%) to 664 million; imports down

The foreign trade of Italian fruit and vegetables in 2020 compared to 2019 confirmed the growth trend in value highlighted in the quarterly data: 5.8% more than in 2019, equal to almost 264 million euros more year on year. More value, less quantity: 2020 closes with a 2.8% drop in exported quantities (3.5 million tons). The value of exports exceeds 4.8 billion euros, the value of imports stops at around 4.2 billion. The positive trade balance year on year jumped to almost 664 million Euros, + 90.4%. This was announced by Fruitimprese on the basis of Istat data.

The data for the twelve months of 2020 signals a cooling of imports in terms of quantity (-2.5%) and also in terms of value (-1.2%). The imported quantities (3.6 million tons) once again exceed the exported quantities (3.5 million tons). In the year of the pandemic, exports of citrus fruits (+ 7.8% in value), fresh fruit (+ 7%) and vegetables (+ 1.4%) are recovering. Citrus fruits are also protagonists of imports (+ 20.4% in value, + 6.1% in quantity), while there is a sharp decline in imports of vegetables (-13.1% in value). Among the main exported products, apples stand out for a value of over 833 million (+ 13.4%), followed by table grapes which do an exploit both in quantity (+ 7.25%) and in value (+9, 95%). The kiwi, in a difficult year, marks -10.15% in quantity and + 5.31% in value. The debacle of peaches / nectarines is expected, which saw production declined and exports to peak in terms of quantity (-51.15%) and value (-18.9%). A difficult year also for pears which lost 13% in quantity and 10.32% in value.

Commenting on the 2020 results, the president of Fruitimprese, Marco Salvi, underlines the positive dynamics of the prices of exported products which made it possible to compensate for the quantitative losses of a vintage that saw the production decayed by adverse weather conditions that heavily affected all the fruit. summer but also kiwis and pears: “On the export front, over 100,000 tons of product have been lost”. The strong jump in the positive balance that touches 664 million "is far from the billion in 2017 but in any case marks a strong recovery from the 348 million in 2019 and gives us hope in the next few years if we will return to quantitatively normal production". On the import front "we imported 100,000 fewer tons of products (in particular fresh fruit and vegetables) with a saving of 50 million euros, even if the quantities imported once again exceed those exported".

"The Recovery plan can and must also be a great opportunity for our sector", adds Salvi: "We are working with the new government and the new minister to provide proposals and solutions to improve the logistics of the sector both internally and to improve the efficiency of the ports through which the flow of our products to foreign markets passes. The challenge of digitization must also be an opportunity to bring our companies to be more competitive and closer to the needs of international markets. On this front we must invest in varietal innovation and in increasingly green packaging to give substance to the sustainability challenge outlined by the Green Deal. Our companies are ready to take up the challenge of sustainability and Farm2Fork, for many years they have been at the forefront in reducing the use of chemicals, we were the first to apply integrated pest management techniques to minimize the use of pesticides. However, a scientific, pragmatic and non-ideological approach to the problem is needed. We must not jeopardize the competitiveness of businesses by depriving them of the defense tools necessary for crop protection without indicating alternative solutions. We need to invest in research and innovation and support businesses along this path”.

The importance of varietal innovation is evidenced by the positive trend of leading products such as apples, table grapes and kiwi. "The apples that through the introduction of the club varieties maintain the leadership in exports, the grapes, thanks to the new seedless varieties (without seeds), grow in quantity (7.25%) and reach 10% as the greatest value (over 720 million Euros of exports). The kiwi, which despite having paid for a difficult year (-10% in quantity), has seen a significant growth in value (+ 5.31%, over 460 million euros) thanks to the new yellow varieties that also drive the prices of the variety green", concludes Salvi.

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EFA News - European Food Agency