Germany offers rich returns despite tougher retail demands

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Germany offers rich returns despite tougher retail demands

German supermarkets are using food safety and traceability as a competitive tool and often setting higher standards than the regulators, claimed Dutch trader Trofi at a Produce Marketing Association meeting in Chile yesterday.

Managing partner Marc De Naeyer said Germany was becoming more like the U.K. and it was no longer such a discount market.

"You need to know what you need to do to be successful and you need to do this before you ship," he told PMA members.

He said different supermarket chains, for example Lidl and Aldi, had different requirements on the maximum residue limits (MRL) on pesticides.

"Every single shipment we have to test and the lab analysis has to be sent to the buyer for approval.

"There is no margin for error on MRL.  We have retailers taking samples and if they find they are above the legal limit then you must recall all your goods at your own expense. Worst case scenario is that you will be delisted," he explained.

The cost of sending a pack back was around 200 euros (US$269) not to mention the possibility of a fine from the retailer too.

De Naeyer said a pragmatic solution was needed where exporters could satisfy E.U. regulations and also the extra German retailer requirements avoiding duplication on testing.

He said South African exporters had standardized packs which offered clear fruit traceability which was helpful and something other exporters could emulate.

De Naeyer said while the European market was going to be challenging it didn't necessarily mean it would be bad.

"If you do it right Germany provides very good returns," he said.

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