Portuguese fruit forced to ‘switch nationality’ to sell overseas

Portuguese fruit and veg have missed the export boat big time. It will take as many as three years to do all the ‘homework’ the country needs to get properly back afloat, and meantime Portuguese produce shipped to Latin America is stamped with Spanish labels.
This shocking reality was exposed last week at the beginning of the Supply Chain Meeting, in Vila Franca de Xira, which brought market leaders from all sectors together to talk tactics.
Manuel Évora, executive administrator of Grupo Luís Vicente, outlined all the difficulties that mean that Portuguese fruit and vegetables destined for Brazil and the majority of Latin American countries “have to have Spanish labels”. Elsewhere, the country has “big problems” breaking into foreign markets.
The issue centres on top level meetings demanded for exports to countries outside the EU, explained Évora.
For agreements to be set up, Portugal’s agricultural ministry would have to meet with counterparts in the relevant countries. “The bulk of this work was never done,” he told the opening panel of the event.
“Nothing has been done for any country in Latin America – and thus we go to Spain, because Spain did its homework and never abandoned its productions.
“We never did this homework. We’re now trying to do it” but a red-tape with regards to customs rules means the job “could take one, two, even three years”.
A way ahead, argues Évora, is to get universities in on the logistics.
“It was structural for Chile that its universities mapped out the way products could be placed on world markets,” he explained. “What we need to know is how fruit should be placed in containers, how we should use transports …”
Meantime, Portugal continues to import more fruit and veg than it exports, although the country has been gaining ground in fruit sales since 2009, reports Público. Last year Portugal exported €329 million worth of fruit (+0.7% on 2012) compared to the €209 million of 2009. However, in 2013, it imported close to €531 million worth of fruit, up 18% on the previous year, meaning the country has a negative trade balance.