The European market for exotic roots and tubers is small but growing. Cassava and yams are the biggest sellers. Volumes of taro, yautia or malanga and other roots that are less well known in the European market, are still very small. The main market are ethnic food shops and restaurants, but increasing interest in exotic vegetables and stimulating consumer awareness of the culinary possibilities can help develop the market channels for exotic roots and tubers.
The European Union (EU) is a net importer of fresh pomegranates. In 2014, 42 thousand tonnes of pomegranates (imports minus exports) were added to the apparent consumption of pomegranates in the EU, in addition to the volume produced locally. Pomegranates are a luxury fruit that sells well in a higher segment. The demand for more exotic and healthy fruit can help increase profitability for exporters from developing countries.
As a result of the health benefits associated with pomegranates, the German consumption of pomegranates is increasing. An interesting opportunity for pomegranate exporters lies in exports of ready-to-eat pomegranate arils. Producers in the Southern Hemisphere have the potential to offer pomegranates in the offseason of the Northern Hemisphere, where most pomegranates are produced.
Imports of fresh berries into the European market from developing countries have doubled over the past five years. Berries are increasingly offered as a convenient and healthy snack, seducing shoppers into buying them. Although many berries are grown in Europe itself, demand is much higher than European production and imports from developing countries are filling in the gap.
Pomelos are imported via the same ports in Europe as other fruit, most notably in the Netherlands. The supply per country varies depending on production volume and the demand in the producing country. Fresh pomelos are a niche market in most European markets. Eastern and Central Europe has a steady demand for fresh pomelos, while opportunities in Western Europe can be triggered by active promotion and excellent taste.
Lychee is a specialty fruit that is slowly gaining popularity in Europe, although average consumption per capita is still limited. It is most popular in France. Madagascar and South Africa supply the majority of lychees during the winter season (from October to February). Opportunities for new suppliers exist in specialties and outside of the main season.
Consumer demand for fresh vegetables, combined with trends related to convenience, consumer experience and innovation, has created a new segment for luxury fresh vegetables: baby vegetables. The German market offers opportunities for selling your baby carrots (as a snack), baby courgettes (used in Mediterranean cuisine) and baby corn (for Asian stir-fry dishes).
Exporters from developing countries (DCs) can profit from the growing German imports of fresh avocados. Good opportunities exist for ready-to-eat avocados. Additionally, DC exporters can differentiate themselves on the market with organic certification.
Drip irrigation can be a transformational technology for smallholder producers. It has many advantages over rainfed production and traditional furrow irrigation methods, such as increased on-farm yields, year-round production, efficient use of scarce water resources, and reductions in waterlogging, salinization, and pest and disease pressures. The commercial potential for the private sector to expand this technology to smallholder farmers is enormous, given the sheer volume of potential customers at the smallholder level, and the area of arable land yet to be irrigated.
Imports of fresh pineapples into the EU market have stabilised at about 900,000 tonnes in recent years. In 2014, imports increased relative to 2012 and 2013. The main imported variety is the sweet MD2 pineapple. Major European destination markets for fresh pineapples include Germany, the UK, Italy and Spain. The world pineapple trade is dominated by a few multinational companies: Dole Food Company, Del Monte Foods, Fyffes and Chiquita. Smaller exporters from developing countries must seek differentiation in niches, quality or price.