The EU fruit and vegetable sector: Main features, challenges and prospects

11-03-2019

Fruit and vegetables accounted for approximately 14 % of the total value of the EU's agricultural production in 2018. This is a fundamental sector for many EU Member States, especially those where it is particularly well developed, such as in the Mediterranean region and in some northern and eastern European countries. Moreover, all EU Member States produce at least a few types of fruit and vegetables. Apples and tomatoes are the main products of the richly diversified produce of the EU's fruit and vegetable farms. Mostly small-sized with relatively high labour input, these farms earn incomes ranging from average (for fruit specialists) to very high (for horticulture specialists, including also flower and ornamental plant production). EU trade in fruit and vegetables is characterised by the predominance of internal over external flows, where the EU is traditionally a net importer. To strengthen the resilience of both the fruit and vegetable sector and its operators, and to boost the consumption of their produce, the EU has in place a comprehensive support system, especially through the regulatory framework for the common organisation of the markets in agricultural products. Rules on producer organisations and their operational programmes, crisis management and marketing standards, help the functioning of the sector, with additional support from the EU school fruit and vegetables scheme, as well as from the EU promotion and quality policies, income support and rural development measures, valid for all agricultural sectors. Recently passed EU legislation has already brought in important adjustments for the fruit and vegetable sector and no further major policy changes are currently anticipated. It will be its capacity to overcome its structural vulnerability and weak organisation, adopt innovation and respond to consumer needs that will shape its future.

Fruit and vegetables accounted for approximately 14 % of the total value of the EU's agricultural production in 2018. This is a fundamental sector for many EU Member States, especially those where it is particularly well developed, such as in the Mediterranean region and in some northern and eastern European countries. Moreover, all EU Member States produce at least a few types of fruit and vegetables. Apples and tomatoes are the main products of the richly diversified produce of the EU's fruit and vegetable farms. Mostly small-sized with relatively high labour input, these farms earn incomes ranging from average (for fruit specialists) to very high (for horticulture specialists, including also flower and ornamental plant production). EU trade in fruit and vegetables is characterised by the predominance of internal over external flows, where the EU is traditionally a net importer. To strengthen the resilience of both the fruit and vegetable sector and its operators, and to boost the consumption of their produce, the EU has in place a comprehensive support system, especially through the regulatory framework for the common organisation of the markets in agricultural products. Rules on producer organisations and their operational programmes, crisis management and marketing standards, help the functioning of the sector, with additional support from the EU school fruit and vegetables scheme, as well as from the EU promotion and quality policies, income support and rural development measures, valid for all agricultural sectors. Recently passed EU legislation has already brought in important adjustments for the fruit and vegetable sector and no further major policy changes are currently anticipated. It will be its capacity to overcome its structural vulnerability and weak organisation, adopt innovation and respond to consumer needs that will shape its future.