Ukrainian berries are in demand from other countries, and subject to all standards, more and more farmers will be able to enter new markets. Over the past five years, the export of fresh berries to the European market from developing countries has doubled and continues to grow.
The high demand for high-quality Ukrainian products of high quality and at an affordable price allows suppliers to work with record profitability. The export of berries to the EU is especially strong in the offseason. Importers in the European market prefer large manufacturers because of certain supplies.
The low availability of fresh berries in the European market during the winter season (November – March) offers more opportunities for domestic producers of berries. Outside of the winter season, European producers dominate the supply of fresh berries, but competition is limited in winter. Regarding stability and predictability, the EU market is more convenient for export than the supply of berries to other countries where pricing can change very often.
For the export of berries to the EU there is a key requirement – the absence of pests and pesticides, but other than that There are a number of rules that will be covered in this article.
Berries exported to the EU must comply with the laws of the European Union on plant health. The European Union has established phytosanitary requirements to prevent the introduction and the spread of organisms harmful to plants and plant products in Europe (e.g. insects, viruses, bacteria, fungi, nematodes). The requirements basically imply that:
- The supplier needs to receive a phytosanitary certificate issued by the Phytosanitary Service of Ukraine, which is issued 14 days before export starts in the language of the country where the goods are imported. According to the Plant Health Directive (2000/29 / EC). `t his own risk, and this product (purchased) is not subject to re-export to Ukraine.
- When concluding a contract, do not forget about the NBU limitation for deferred payment ( maximum 90 days )
How to minimize risks
The “nightmare” of the berry is a rejected consignment and re-export back to Ukraine. 100% of cases – due to non-compliance with the specification. If it says that there should be 95% of the whole berry, then that is the only way it should be. It is necessary to control the temperature regime, quality, to analyze the yield of berries. Delivery should occur in pre-determined lines – not earlier, and not later.
EU Standards for Berries
This section provides general information on requirements and trade standards regarding quality, size, packaging and labeling. Further information on marketing standards can be found on the CBI Information Platform for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables..
Berry quality requirements
Information on the various quality requirements can be found in Codex Alimentarius, The Food Code of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), as well as the Economic Commission for Europe The United Nations (UNECE).
At least the berries should be uniform in color, have similar varietal characteristics, be clean, contain no extraneous plant materials, and be practically free of unripe berries.
Visual defects (e.g., unripe or damaged fruit) in the sample are evaluated in accordance with the assessment system in the Codex standard. As long as the total score does not exceed the threshold value, the product is considered approved (see Codex Alimentarius) .
Minimum quality requirements
Both GMS and UNECE standards require your berries to be:
- exclude foods that are rotten or damaged, making them unfit for consumption;
- clean, with virtually no visible foreign matter;
- virtually no pests;
- virtually no damage from pests;
- fresh looking;
- without abnormal external moisture;
- odorless and / or tasteless.
The degree of development and condition of the berries must be such that they can:
- withstand transportation and handling;
- arrive in satisfactory condition at the destination;
Berries should be sufficiently developed and have sufficient maturity depending on the species, but should not be overripe. Product development and maturity should be to allow them to continue the ripening process and achieve a satisfactory degree of maturity.
There are no market standards regarding the size of berries. However, buyers will have their own size requirements. In addition to the above legislative requirements, the UNECE classifies berries into three classes:«Extra “, I and II class.
- Berries in the class Extra must be of the highest quality. They must be characteristic of the variety or in the case of wild berries characteristic of the species. Differentiation of form, color, taste and other characteristics of the corresponding variety or species is not accepted.
- Blueberries should be practically free of agglomerated berries and should be practically covered with flowering, in accordance with varietal characteristics.
- Berries must be free from defects, with the exception of very slight superficial defects. (for example, in a slightly different form), provided that they do not affect the general appearance of the product, quality, quality preservation and presentation in the package.
- Overall 5% tolerance for quantity or weight on berries that do not meet the class requirements, but meeting with class I is allowed. Within this tolerance, not more than 0.5% may consist of products that meet the quality requirements of the second grade.
- Berries in this class must be of good quality. They must be characteristic of the variety or, in the case of wild berries, the corresponding species are characteristic. Differentiation of form, color, taste and other characteristics of the corresponding variety or species is not accepted.
- Blueberries should be practically free of agglomerated berries. Blueberries should be almost all covered with plaque, according to varietal characteristics.
- The following minor defects, however, may be resolved provided that they do not affect the general appearance of the product, the quality, storage and presentation of the packaging: very light juice leakage and very light bruising.
- The general tolerance of 10% by quantity or weight on berries that do not meet the requirements of the class, but corresponds to class II , is allowed. Within this tolerance, no more than 2% may consist of products that do not meet the requirements of quality class II , nor the minimum requirements, listed above, or rot prone products.
- This class includes berries that are not suitable for inclusion in higher classes, but satisfy minimum requirements specified above.
- currant panicles may be less evenly spaced.
- The following defects are allowed, provided that the berries retain their basic characteristics.
- Regarding quality, safety and quality: a small leak of juice, small smudges.
- General 10% tolerance in terms of quantity or weight on berries that do not meet either the class requirements or the minimum requirements are allowed in each lot. Within this tolerance, no more than a total of 4% may be products that are rotten.
GMS has a slightly lower tolerance to rot-prone berries than the UNECE Standard for Class II Berries. 10% tolerance for the quantity or weight of a product that does not meet the minimum quality requirements should be allowed in each batch. Within this tolerance, no more than Only 2% may consist of rot-prone products.
The UNECE Standard also sets out provisions for submission. The contents of each package must be uniform and contain only berries of the same origin, variety or, in the case of wild berries, species and quality. The berries in the “Extra” classes and I should be nearly uniform in maturity. The visible portion of the contents of the package must be representative of the entire content.
The labeling requirements for the wholesale export of fresh berries to the EC must comply with the rules and regulations in force in the European market. The text on the label must be in the language of the country of sale. Labels must not contain toxic ink or glue. If the nature of the product is not visible from the outside, the name of the product must be indicated on the packaging, (optionally) the name of the variety and / or commercial name.
All labels for fresh berries covered by the marketing standards of the European Union should contain the following information:
- nature of the product and name of the variety (for example: raspberry Rubus idaeus L.);
- place of production / country of origin;
- commercial identification: class, size (code), number of units, net weight (for example: class I, UNECE standard for fresh berries);
- mention “wild” when the berries were harvested in the wild.
- date of collection.
If the products are sold in packaged packaging, the labeling must comply with the rules set out in the Rules EU No. 1169/2011 on the provision of information on food products for consumers. The following information should be indicated on the product label in pre-packaged berries:
- name and address of the packer, including the country of origin;
- weight or number of items in a package;
- lot number;
In the case of frozen foods , the term “frozen” or “hard frozen “.
Regarding berries, there is one labeling system, but strawberries have separate labeling and standards. Strawberries are divided into three classes, according to which marking is done: extra, class 1 and class 2 . The purpose of labeling is for the consumer to have complete product information.
If you are packing products for the EU consumer market, you need to put a label in the language of the country where the berries are sold. However, if you work with suppliers or sellers, the buyer usually provides these consumer labels, and you only need to place them on your products.
In addition, any certification logo or retail logo for products under a private label must be displayed on the label.
In order for fresh berries to be sold in the EU as certified and organic, they must contain the European Union logo “organic products.”
To put the logo “organic products” , the berries must comply with the rules of the European Union regarding organic farming. In addition to the European Union logo, Germany has its own organic Biosiegel logo. This logo is used less frequently than the European organic logo, but may be in demand in retail. Discuss these options with your customers.
Packaging is designed to protect berries from mechanical damage, contamination, leakage and dehydration, as well as representing the company’s image.
UNECE Standard for Berry Packaging
The UNECE Berry Standard defines the following packaging requirements:
- Berries must be packed in such a way as to protect the produce properly.
- The materials used inside the package must be clean and of a quality such as not to cause external or internal damage to the product. The use of materials, in particular paper or stamps with trade specifications, is permitted provided that the printing or marking is done with non-toxic ink or glue.
- There should not be any foreign substances on the packages, except for random leaves and branches of wild berries. Codex Alimentarius sets international food standards, guidelines and codes of practice to enhance the safety, quality and fairness of international food trade. The Codex Alimentarius has developed a Code of Practice for packaging and transporting fresh fruits and vegetables (CAC / RCP 44-1995) . In this Code, you can learn how to comply with the above packaging requirements. It also provides best practices for transport equipment, loading and pre-cooling.
Special legislation applies to all wooden pallets that are exported to the EU. Based on this international standard, each pallet must be decontaminated (phytosanitary treatment from pests) after which a special mark “IPPC” must be applied to each pallet, or as it is also called “Spikelet”.
In addition, some EU countries have established additional rules for wood packaging materials provided by the European Commission. For example, in Germany, recyclability of packaging materials is another important requirement. Packaging and the Waste Prevention Act / Green dot (Verordnung über die Vermeidung und Verwertung von Verpackungsabfällen (or VerpackV) sets forth the requirements for the disposal of packaging material. German law is based on European Union Directive 94/62 / EC. Green dot sign (Der Grune Punkt) in black-and-white, green-white and green versions means that the packaging material is recyclable under the “Dual System” (DSD).
The berry market in Ukraine is only just being formed. Our producers appreciated the possibilities of this direction and are now actively increasing the export of berries. The most attractive markets for fresh berries are Germany, as well as the UK and Holland. Also included are Poland, Belgium, Austria and Sweden.
The peculiarity of the European market requires a high level of certification, quality and stability of supply. Therefore, for beginner exporters, the primary task is to learn how to work and put the process of growing berries in accordance with European standards. They increased the volume of berries, first sold to a local trader. For a start, this is a great platform to practice. Having learned, you can move on to more serious contracts and reach end customers in Western Europe.