The Global Coalition of Fresh Produce (GCFP) has released a report analysing the current global trading environment for fresh fruits and vegetables. It warns that a number of challenges are currently threatening the long-term economic viability of the fresh produce sector worldwide, potentially impacting economic stability, food security and health.
The challenges include substantial increases in costs, inefficiencies and delays in transportation, labour shortages, dwindling consumer purchasing power and obstacles to international trade, among other factors.
Ron Lemaire of the Canadian Produce Marketing Association and chairman of the GCFP commented, “Our sector has shown great resilience in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and has guaranteed consumers’ access to healthy and nutritious products. But rising costs will ultimately be passed on to consumers in the form of reduced supplies and higher prices.”
According to the report, such an outcome will make it harder for consumers the world over to eat a healthy diet. Indeed, to keep their food expenses in check, people will increasingly rely on low-cost staple foods or turn to unhealthy calories, such as those from soft drinks. In addition, the economic difficulties faced by fresh produce exporters in developing countries counter the impact of efforts towards poverty reduction, and threaten the livelihoods of millions of families.
The report calls upon national and international policymakers to urgently implement a number of measures to safeguard the supply of affordable fresh fruits and vegetables to consumers worldwide – and ensure the viability of a sector that is an important contributor to the economies of developed and developing countries.
“First and foremost, governments and international bodies across the globe should recognise fruits and vegetables as essential goods,” said Robert Guenther, Chief Public Policy Officer for the International Fresh Produce Association, and a member of the Coalition’s Steering Committee. “By establishing that fruits and vegetables are fundamental to the health of populations and an essential element in the shift towards more sustainable food systems, other measures can be unlocked to ensure their consistent supply.”