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First Southern Hemisphere Fruit Trade Congress highlighted the key priorities of the Southern Hemisphere Association of Fresh Fruit Exporters (SHAFFE) in its strategy for 2021 – 2023 and served as a platform for announcing a new cooperation agreement with the Chinese fruit importing industry. The first ever online event also highlighted the key challenges and opportunities for the region and defined that building on individual key strengths is the way forward for 2021 and beyond.

The Southern Hemisphere Fruit Trade Congress organized by the Southern Hemisphere Association of Fresh Fruit Exporters, with the defining theme “Keeping the World supplied” has taken place virtually on the 25th of March 2021. With 615 registered participants from all-over the world and two run-ups for convenient dial-in from different time zones, the first annual Congress has reached an exceptional outreach.

Starting with a keynote speech by FAO Deputy Director General Ms Beth Bechdol, highlighting the importance of the support of the fresh fruit industry to the United Nations campaign “International Year of Fruit and Vegetables 2021, at the heart of the conference program have been the outlook review provided by current SHAFFE president Charif Christian Carvajal from the Chilean Fruit Exporters Association (ASOEX). Mr. Carvajal highlighted the key areas of activity of SHAFFE, including strengthening the organizations resource availability, stimulating formation of fresh produce industry professionals’, modernizing information systems, and collaborating with like – minded trade organizations and international public entities to create common grounds of dialogue and exchange. The outlook was accompanied by an extensive outlook panel discussion moderated by SHAFFE Secretary General Nelli Hajdu together with 8 thought leaders from the various Southern Hemisphere countries.

The SHAFFE congress was also the scene for the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the China Chamber of Commerce of Foodstuffs, Native Produce and Animal By-Products (CCCFNA). The Chinese market has become an important outlet for Southern Hemisphere Traders. The market has been growing 90 % over the past five years to 2.5 billion USD market.

The Southern Hemisphere looks back on a very good season 2020 despite Covid-19 constraints challenging producing and trading operations. With a decrease of 8 % in volume but a continued increase of value of 5 % in 2020 (9.8 million T, 14.6 billion USD), Southern Hemisphere traders have secured continuous fruit supply in 2020. The outlook was followed with a panel discussion with thought leaders from the 8 Southern Hemisphere SHAFFE member countries, highlighting the state of play of their respective industries, capitalizing their key individual strengths from investment into organic to emphasis on varietal diversification and/or to branding the desire of consumers for food safety.

The congress additionally showcased contributions from SHAFFE partner organisations including the the China Chamber of Commerce of Foodstuffs, Native Produce and Animal By-Products (CCCFNA), Freshfel, the European Fresh Produce Association, British Summer Fruits,the US Produce Marketing Association , Canadian Produce Marketing Association and the International Federation for Produce Standards), hence wrapping up a complexity of tasks and challenges for the interconnected global fruit sector.