This week, from Tuesday April 5 to Thursday 7 April, Fruit Logistica was held once again in Berlin. Back again after two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, the fresh produce sector travelled from across the globe to Berlin to come together in person once more.

FreshPlaza was again present with editorial teams from the Netherlands, France, Italy, Spain, China, Germany and English-speaking countries. All in all, exhibitors and visitors alike were visibly pleased to be able to exchange ideas and generally talk to each other together again, on site. Although many noticed that there were fewer exhibitors and visitors than in pre-COVID times, this did little to dampen the mood.

There was much discussion, among other things, about the uncertainty in view of the continuing supply bottlenecks and the long delivery times, as well as about the consequences of the pandemic and the enormously rising costs on the market. Some halls were buzzing with people, chef and product tastings and demonstrations, while other cocktail parties were enjoyed by all, proving to be a big hit that drew the crowds and interest. Booths were practical and functional with plenty of glossy material and a lot more QR codes in place of business cards on display. Fittingly, a lot of fresh produce was on display in most halls and available for tasting. The exotic fruits from Latin American countries were simply great to behold and taste when on offer. At the end of the day smart watches told the story of 10 000+ steps per day, with many visitors comparing who took the most steps. Among them were our editors, who share a breakdown of experiences at Fruit Logistica 2022 by country below!

Netherlands: Relaxed atmosphere at Fruit Logistica 2022
After an absence of two years and two months, the Fruit Logistica took place again this week in Berlin. 225 companies from the Netherlands took part. In the ‘Dutch halls’ 3.2 and 1.2, it was particularly noticeable that the fruit importers and fruit-vegetable cooperatives were absent this year. (Horticultural) suppliers were well represented. After a quiet start on Tuesday, it was certainly not as full as before on Wednesday, but at times it was pleasantly busy at the fair. Moreover, many exhibitors indicated that the quality of the visitors was higher than in previous years. The lower number of visitors also created a more relaxed setting. The time when many innovations were presented at the fair is over and with this period of high costs and logistical challenges, everyone seems happy to get their business through this period. Among greenhouse vegetable growers, high gas prices are the talk of the town, importers are full of logistical challenges and many European fruit growers are taking stock of last week’s frost damage.

Belgium: Belgian companies present novelties despite hectic market and frost worries
Among the Belgian fruit growers, much of the attention was still focused on last week’s unexpected frost. Chairman of the Belgian Fruit Auction (BFV), Ludo Lousbergh, explained that the frost could still have consequences for the pear harvest. Because of the frost, many fruit growers have had anxious days in the run-up to the Fruit Logistica. According to Ludo, the harvest could be significantly affected by the frost. Nevertheless, the chairman states that a large part of the pears can still be saved. Maybe the volumes will decrease a little bit, but this does not have to cause panic immediately, according to him. Due to the oversupply of pears on the market, a smaller harvest could even be beneficial for the prices. For apples, it remains to be seen what the damage will be.

Besides these news items, the companies mainly drew attention to their product range and novelties. For example, Coöperatie Hoogstraten and BelOrta presented their new lines of packaging. Hoogstraten also introduced a new ‘white’ strawberry, called Summer Whites, and BelOrta talked about its ‘Earth’ label, with which it wants to help growers during the transition from conventional to organic cultivation, which can take quite a while. Bel’Export also presented the new red pear and Devos Group brought the yellow Rubis Gold to the attention of the visitors. Despite a hectic market and a later period in the season, many did their best to introduce the new products to the public. Nevertheless, there is still a lot of uncertainty.

Germany: Exuberant conversations, restrained mood
Around 2,000 exhibitors from over a hundred countries were able to present their products almost the same as before. As the COVID measures in Berlin have been loosened, exhibitors and visitors were once again able to meet old, as well as new, faces. The mood among those present was mostly good, although quite subdued, as some German-speaking producer companies had cancelled their participation. But the lack of presence of many foreign exhibitors, such as from China and Russia, was also noticeable.  

Sustainability continued to be the most dominate topic, as presentations of various packaging and marketing concepts showed, such as that of this year’s Innovation Awards nominee, Schur Star Systems.

UK: Excellent quality of visitors, despite some big name companies missing
This year most of the British companies came together in Hall 8.2, some in a row of stands organised by the CHA, as the number of companies exhibiting with the CHA was the biggest yet. In the same hall there were a number of other British companies with their own stands. There were a few big names missing, but also quite a few new companies present. In addition to Hall 8.2 there were a good number of companies throughout the exhibition ground. The exhibitors all seemed very pleased with the quality of the visitors, numbers may have been lower but plenty of business was done.

France: Good quality discussions, despite lower attendance
Despite a lower attendance than was usually seen pre-pandemic, with 75 exhibitors on the French pavilion and a rather calm first morning, the results of this edition of Fruit Logistica are rather positive. With more time to talk, the discussions were of very high quality. Many presented their new packaging, meeting the requirements of the AGEC law. As for stone fruits and apples, concerns reigned over the damage from the frost currently raging in French orchards. Some participants could not be present in the end, because they remained alongside their teams to protect the orchards from frost. Overall, everyone was happy to meet again and satisfied with this less crowded but high quality edition. 

Italy: “A signal of restart that gives hope” despite lower turnout
Our Italian editors spoke with dozens of exhibitors, collecting the most diverse comments, although the common denominator could be summed up by one remark: “the second day was much better than the first, but there was far from a full turnout from all over the world. At least, however, a signal of restart has arrived that gives hope.”

Some pavilions were particularly penalized, especially those on the lower floors and far from the entrance flows. The two halls with the majority of Italians, all things considered, registered a discreet presence on Wednesday. Certainly, foreign visitors were a minority here, except in the case of organized meetings.

“The fair didn’t go badly for us over these two days,” commented Massimo Ceradini of KingFruit, “as we had prearranged a series of meetings. A few new contacts also came through”.

Matteo Mazzoni of Mazzoni Group is on the same wavelength: “We had agreed on numerous appointments with customers from different countries and they all went well. I believe that the purpose of trade fairs is mainly this: to meet and consolidate existing relationships. Then we welcome all new contacts.“ However, not all comments were positive.

“Well, things went a little better than the first day, but not by much – says exhibitor Federico Ponti – However, it would have been difficult to do worse than the first day.” 

For others, the second day of Fruit Logistica made up for the first day, which, according to exhibitors in hall 4.2, had had a slower pace. Certainly not everyone had had the same perception, but the emptiness of the spaces left by the many absent exhibitors amplified this impression.

“We didn’t stop for a moment,” said a farmer from Sicily. “There were many visits that we received at the Sicilian pavilion and this has heartened us, after the first day had been a bit disappointing. A lot of contacts with foreign companies, from Northern Europe, but also from the Middle East”.

Many companies that, due to the uncertainty, were not able to confirm a stand this year, however, have not failed to make their presence felt as visitors, leaning on those who were present. 

Spain: High Spanish attendance, despite missing big firms
A significant number of Spanish companies didn’t exhibit this year, including big firms such as Citri&Co, SanLucar, Cultivar, CMR, Eurobanan or Trops.

One of the main topics among the Spaniards was the recent frosts in the Northern stone and top fruit growing areas, which will affect considerably the planning of the new season. Meanwhile, rains are making it complicated to proceed with the citrus campaign, which has been especially complicated this year. The weather is also influencing the supply of soft fruit and vegetables, the prices of which are very interesting this year for Almería growers.

The high costs and the strikes are one of the main worries for Spanish growers and packers.

In spite of all that, Spain was once again in the top 3 countries for attendance.

The biggest cooperative  Anecoop didn’t miss the show, which celebrated the 30th anniversary of its Bouquet Seedless watermelons. The only Spanish nominated company for the innovation awards was the La Palma Cooperative, for its Amela tomato.

This variety of tomato, grown in Granada and coming from Japan, competes with other innovative proposals, such as an orange Romanesco cauliflower -rich in beta-carotene-, flying robots for harvesting fruit, vertical pea plants, 100% deep red lettuce or packaging for salads made with plastics from the sea.

Serbia: Serbian exhibitors seek alternative markets for Russian sales 
Some Serbian exhibitors were slightly disappointed with the placement of their pavilion, as it was very close to the wardrobe in Hall 2.1. That being said, everyone could see the Serbian stands after hanging up their coats, so in the end it did give the exhibitors some traffic. For most of the exhibitors, the goal was to find some new markets in Europe, as exporting to Russia has become more difficult for them. 

Egypt: Egyptian exporters find new contacts for Russia alternative
As the citrus season is over and with Ramadan starting in early April, there were fewer Egyptian stands than in previous editions. The exhibitors who were present state they were very pleased to be able to meet their clients after two long years of the pandemic. Some exporters stated they were looking for alternative markets to Russia, and succeeded in finding new contacts during their time at Fruit Logistica. 

Greece: Focus on kiwis, watermelons, grapes, potatoes and sweetcorn among Greek exhibitors
The Greek exhibitors in Hall 2.1 had a lot of kiwi traders, as the season for kiwis was wrapping up. A variety of larger stands combined with many smaller stands, which had a variety of fruits to exports, like watermelons, grapes, potatoes and sweetcorn. Traders were very happy to meet both existing as well as new clients after two years of tradeshow-drought.  

Turkey: Turkish stands stood out with fresh look
The Turkish stands looked quite modern with a nice blue covering most of Hall 1.1. Turkish traders were focused on the upcoming cherry and fig season, but also had soft fruit, citrus and apple traders among their number. On Wednesday, it seemed a lot more crowded than on the Tuesday.

Israel: Israeli companies display technological innovations
While many companies reported that the exhibition was a bit slower, they had an opportunity to meet old and new clients. A lot of technology innovations were on display too with eager visitors taking photos and videos of robotic pickers of apple harvesting being demonstrated.   

South Africa: Travel uncertainties no obstacle for South African pavilion
The South African pavilion was a bit different this year, as the organisation was a bit last minute due the change of date and travel uncertainties. For the first time it was funded and organised by the industry, it was a bit smaller than normal but every bit as busy. One industry member said that the industry organisations stepped in, as not being at Fruit Logistica would have been a disaster for them.

China: Traditionally large number of Chinese participants missing due to COVID-19 lockdowns
Due to COVID-19 flaring up in China and consecutive lockdowns and travel bans, there were virtually to no Chinese participants at this year’s Fruit Logistica.

Traditionally, quite a large contingency of traditional Chinese products including ginger, garlic and onion attended the exhibition, in addition to technology providers and IoT service providers. In the last few years, a growing number of Chinese importers and trade companies also exhibited at the show.

China’s ‘Covid-Zero’ policy has made international travel from and to the country difficult to virtually impossible. With recent Covid developments in large cities including Shanghai and Shenzhen, it is impossible to predict when this situation will ease. Chinese exporters face high transport prices and delays in shipment times when supplying global markets.

Southeast Asia and East Asia: Lower number of participants
A few companies from countries including Japan, South Korea, Thailand and Taiwan exhibited but numbers were not comparable to earlier years. Also trade visitors from this region were significantly less.

North America: Positive experience for North American participants
US companies and associations from Texas were reported to have had a very good and busy first day especially with many, visitors and clients. The cocktail functions of companies and chef demonstrations were especially a hit with visitors.

Mexico: Strong interest in Mexican pavilion
Companies found the exhibition very busy with a lot of interest in their produce such as avocados, pineapples and exotic fruit in Europe especially. The Mexican pavilion was buzzing with people having meetings, tasting products, smiling and shaking hands.

Ecuador: Negative effect of Russian invasion puts dampener on mood at the Ecuadorian pavilion
The atmosphere at the Ecuadorian pavilion was mixed. Excited to be back at Fruit Logistica and being able to travel to Europe. At the same time Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the following suspension of exports to Russia has hit Ecuador’s trade significantly. Ecuador is a large banana producer and producer of other tropical fruits, of which a large part was sent to the Russian markets.

Feedback from exhibitors indicated that a number of Ecuadorian growers and shippers have gone out of business in recent weeks, or are facing bankruptcy. As Ecuador exports significant quantities of bananas, it will not be easy to find alternative markets, if they can be found at all. A number of companies are trading organic bananas.

Some new opportunities were on the horizon with the opening up of China for Ecuadorian yellow dragon fruit, or pitahaya. First shipments are expected for June and July later this year.

Chile: Focus on trade negotiations at Chilean pavilion
A large community of Chilean growers and exporters were present at the Chilean pavilion, with trade negotiations taking place at the different tables. Chile’s exports to China have been hurt in the last two years due to trade disruptions by Covid, delays at ports and quality issues after arrival. A focus on quality control during harvest, packing and transport has been addressing some of the issues. Alternative markets are also sought in Asia, Europe and the US.

Colombia: Exotic tasting sessions attract new clients for Colombians
This pavilion was full of exotic fruits like on display and available for tasting with many companies reporting to have had a good exhibition. They met with new clients while also seeing a strong interest from European countries especially in the organics category. Some say the show had slightly fewer people, but they still had focused meetings with good potential clients.

Argentina: New companies present at Fruit Logistica for the first time
Argentina had a few companies at Fruit Logistica for the first time with the hope of meeting new clients and exporting to Europe. Other companies hope to expand exports to Europe, UK and further afield. They were happy with the interest of new clients.

Uruguay: Plenty of interest for Uruguayan companies
This year Uruguay had very few companies but those present at the show were busy in meetings all day showing the interest was good from old and new clients.

Costa Rica: Costa Ricans eager for European export opportunities
Another newcomer to Fruit Logistics, Costa Rica also had some companies attending for the first time. They were happy with the interest shown and eager to export to Europe especially.

Dominican Republic: Good experience for Dominican Republic at Fruit Logistica
Reported to have a good and busy show with companies finding interested potential clients. Europe was a big focus.

Peru: Lively Peruvian pavilion presents significant growth
Peru’s fresh fruit production has experienced significant growth in recent year, making the country on par with large Southern Hemisphere producers such as South Africa and Ecuador. A lively pavilion with companies trading avocado, grapes and blueberries, in line with newly established productions in the country itself.

By Fresh Plaza