EU fruit and veg industry boosts efforts to ensure continuous supplies
The European fresh fruit and vegetable sector has increased efforts to ensure a continuous and diverse supply of produce for consumers in Europe and around the world, Freshfel has said.
The European Fresh Produce Association said that the closure of border crossings in Europe for people due to the Covid-19 outbreak pandemic has delayed some operations in the fresh produce supply chain.
"However, all possible measures have been taken across the chain to maintain supply of high quality fresh produce," it said.
"With the closure of restaurants and cafés in many Member States, consumers are increasingly reliant on the availability of fresh fruit and vegetables in retail outlets for at-home consumption."
Freshfel said the sector is holding discussions with public authorities to guarantee a "fresh corridor to fast-track trucks transporting highly perishable fresh fruit and vegetables to guarantee timely supply". This includes securing vehicles and drivers in a timely manner in the right locations and introducing protocols to ensure trade flows.
Discussions are also being centered on securing resources for the upcoming picking season, such as having enough employees picking in orchards and working in packing stations and further down the supply chain.
Measures are being taken by all European fresh produce companies to provide the highest protection to workers in the supply chain.
The highest levels of food safety and hygiene are being met by operators in the fresh fruit and vegetable supply chain amid the Covid-19 outbreak, Freshfel said.
While the European Food Safety Authority has stated that there is no evidence that transmission through food consumption could occur, the sector reminds consumers to follow the precautionary recommendations issued by the WHO on good hygiene practices during any food handling and preparation.
This includes washing hands, using different chopping boards and knives for raw meat and cooked food and avoiding potential cross-contamination between cooked and uncooked foods.
All these efforts by the sector are facilitating consumers in continuing to have a healthy balanced diet rich in fruit and vegetables throughout the outbreak, Freshfel said.