U.S. market access would be a breakthrough for Belgian pear sector - FreshFruitPortal.com

U.S. market access would be a breakthrough for Belgian pear sector

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U.S. market access would be a breakthrough for Belgian pear sector

The Association of Belgian Horticultural Cooperatives (VBT) is hopeful U.S. market access for apples and pears will help alleviate pressures felt in the sector since losing the Russian market.

Speaking with www.freshfruitportal.com, VBT general secretary Philippe Appeltans is confident the much-needed U.S. access is a 'very real possibility' for this season.

He urges all parties involved to keep momentum going so the deal can be rubber-stamped in the coming months after a recent proposed rule from U.S. authorities to allow imports from eight countries: Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Spain and the Netherlands.

"Finally there is some progress," Appeltans says.

"Every pound or kilogram exported to a new destination is good for the sector and is exactly what we need, so we are happy the Commission has finally achieved this breakthrough and now we have to keep the pressure on to make sure everything goes smoothly.

"The U.S. would be a new outlet and we are convinced that consumers in the U.S are open to the lovely taste of our world-famous Belgian Conference pears, for example. Our pears are totally different from the pears produced in the U.S. and this can be added value for the retailers over there."

Public Consultation

The proposed rule is scheduled to open for public consultation on Wednesday (Jan. 20).

"Whilst we are happy with the latest development, we still have quite a way to go. Firstly, we will have to wait to see what comes out of the public consultation in the U.S.

"If everything goes well we can start to have access later on this year. I hope we are ready for this September, but this means the U.S. authorities do not change their minds after the public consultation, that's the first thing.

"Secondly, each member state has to have its own national working plan. On our side, it’s feasible and we are prepared to hand this over to our national authorities so we can go forward if public consultation in the U.S. doesn’t intervene."

Mitigate Russian losses

Belgium lost around 50% of its pome fruit exports when Russia introduced a ban on European imports in 2014, and the sector has been searching for alternative markets ever since.

"The opening of the U.S. market would help mitigate losses felt since the Russian embargo that's for sure.

"It’s a new outlet and we always want that; we have markets in China and India and some other new markets around the world, but this doesn’t cover the volumes that we used to export to the Russian Federation.

"U.S. access would be a relief in this regard. This would be similar for pears from Italy for example and apples from Poland. This will relieve a bit of the pressure on the market."

Photo: www.shutterstock.com


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