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Over the past months Freshfel Europe has been advocating in cooperation with its members for more flexibility from the UK when it comes to the obligation for EU fresh produce exports to the UK to carry phytosanitary certificates from 1 April. In an announcement (March 11th) by the UK government about the adjustment of the timelines in the introduction of controls for EU imports, made in a written statement by RT Hon Michael Gove, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, is therefore warmly welcomed by Freshfel Europe and the fruit and vegetables sector as a crucial relief to enable the sector to smoothly adapt to Brexit in the ever-challenging context of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

In the announcement, the UK agrees to postpone the introduction of phytosanitary certification obligations for most fresh produce, considered low risk plant products, until January 2022, when documentary checks will start to apply. Physical checks at Border Control Posts on fresh produce will only be applied from March 2022. Freshfel Europe General Delegate Philippe Binard emphasized that, “Freshfel Europe has been voicing strong concerns over the last months and we consider that this postponement is essential to ensure the supply of the UK market and the continuation of trade flows through the Channel, across which the EU27 exports over 3 million tonnes of fresh fruit and vegetables a year”. Currently EU supply represents 40 % of the UK’s internal demand for fresh produce.

Following this welcome news, the sector further calls EU and UK authorities to make the most of this extended 9- month transition to speed-up preparations to ensure the smooth running of operations in 2022. The challenge remains enormous – over 750,000 phytosanitary certificates will be required on an annual basis to sustain EU-UK trade in fresh produce, a substantial economic and administrative burden, and a threat to the capacity of the industry to continue ‘just in time’ operations if administrative procedures are not sped-up. Freshfel Europe Director for Trade and Market Access Natalia Santos-Garcia Bernabe, highlighted that, “In Freshfel Europe and FPC’s letter to the RT Hon Michael Gove, the sector reiterated the need for electronic certification transmission between the EU and the UK to be up and running before the end of the year through the e-Phyto hub”. The postponement will give more time on both side of the Channel to work on digitalization and the successful introduction of electronic certification in 2022.

Cott Corporation announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to sell its traditional beverage manufacturing business (“Cott Beverages”) to Refresco for USD $1.25 billion. The transaction includes Cott’s North America, U.K., and Mexico businesses (excluding the RCI International division and its associated concentrate facility as well as the Aimia Foods division).

For over 60 years Cott Beverages has been a leading manufacturer of a diverse mix of beverages for the retail trade and branded manufacturers and is one of the world’s largest producers of beverages on behalf of retailers, brand owners and distributors, producing multiple types of beverages in a variety of packaging formats and sizes, including carbonated soft drinks, 100 % shelf stable juice and juice-based products, energy drinks, clear, still and sparkling flavored waters, sports drinks, new age beverages, ready-to-drink teas, freezables and ready-to-drink alcoholic beverages.

Cott Beverages generates approximately $1.7 billion in revenues and has a strong and experienced management team with longstanding customer relationships in North America and the United Kingdom. Subsequent to the closing of the transaction, Cott Beverages’ leadership team will report to the Executive Board of Refresco.

The transaction is expected to:

  • Improve top-line growth and stability
  • Enhance overall gross profit and EBITDA margins
  • Significantly reduce net leverage
  • Reduce customer concentration
  • Reduce commodity exposure
  • Shift Cott’s core focus to the growing categories of water, coffee, tea and filtration

The acquisition, which is expected to close in the second half of 2017, is subject to certain closing conditions including regulatory approval, Refresco shareholder approval, and working capital adjustments.

Marco Haussener to retire and be succeeded by Samuel Sigrist, President and General Manager, Europe

SIG Combibloc Group Holdings S.à r.l. (“SIG”), one of the world’s leading solution providers for the food and beverage industry, announced that Chief Financial Officer Marco Haussener plans to retire in February 2018 and will be succeeded by Samuel Sigrist.

Samuel Sigrist, currently President & General Manager, Europe, will become CFO effective November 1, 2017 and will work with Haussener, who will move at that time into an advisory role, to ensure a smooth transition. Sigrist has been with SIG since 2005 and has also served in various finance roles including Head of Finance Europe, Director of Group Controlling & Reporting, amongst others.

Martin Herrenbrück, currently Head of Cluster Europe and responsible for the European commercial operations, will succeed Sigrist as the President & General Manager, Europe, effective November 1, 2017. Herrenbrück has been with SIG since 2006 and has served in a variety of capacities including Head of Cluster Asia-Pacific South, Head of Global Marketing and Business Development, and several corporate development roles.

New laboratory facilities in Mierlo put into operation

The GNT Group announced the opening of its brand new laboratory facilities in Mierlo, The Netherlands. With an investment of more than three million euros, one of the global market leaders in Colouring Foods has considerably expanded its capacities for product development and quality control. Over the past years, the GNT site in Mierlo has been constantly growing, now covering six hectares. The new facility makes a crucial contribution to supporting the sustainable growth that is fundamental to the company’s strategic 2020 plan.

Situated adjacent to the production site at GNT’s headquarters in Mierlo, the new laboratories are equipped with state-of-the-art technologies for quality control, as GNT aims to meet the growing and specific demands of its global customer base. The extension of its facilities significantly enhances the company’s core strength of innovation, through integrating the key functions of product development, process development and engineering, the speed of innovation will be increased even further.

Specialists to boost innovation

Since the demand for truly natural colour solutions is constantly on the rise, GNT is also investing significantly in growing its research and development team. The Group currently employs in total 320 people throughout its global network, this number will rise in line with the continuing success which is supported by its exciting innovation pipeline.

Ensuring a sustainable and excellent working environment, the family-owned company is an important employer especially in the area around Mierlo and across the border to its second production facility in Aachen, Germany.