ZIMBABWE'S horticultural exports are expected to increase this year as a result of producers' growing desire to enter the export market and buyers' increasing interest in purchasing from local suppliers, ZimTrade has said.
Zimbabwe, according to the country's export promotion organisation, used to have the most sought-after produce on the African continent in years gone by and that same interest was seen and revived at this year’s Fruit Logistica Expo, the largest fresh fruit and vegetable fair in the world.
At this year’s fair, held last month in Berlin, Germany, ZimTrade facilitated the participation of 10 companies which showcased a variety of horticultural produce. This was Zimbabwe’s third showcase at the fair, which this year saw over 2 600 exhibitors from 92 countries while there were 63 000 trade visitors — showing the level of interest and influence the fair has garnered.
Fruit Logistica is one of the most recognised trade fairs that is the gathering place for decision-makers, where seven out of 10 trade visitors are deciders or co-deciders in their respective companies.
Thus, featuring at this event meant local producers stood a greater chance of clinching deals during the three-day exhibition which proved true as was evidenced by the deals sealed and still under negotiation.
“The fair saw US$5,74 million worth of orders being realised and another US$15 million under negotiation,” ZimTrade said.
“Of particular interest to the potential buyers were oranges, lemons, blueberries, peas and passion fruit, among many other types of produce.
“Buyers coming through to the Zimbabwe pavilion, indicated how they appreciated the unique taste of our produce and were buying the origin more than the farm where it was produced. They have become accustomed to the unique taste of blueberries, among many other types of produce and have acquired a sense of trust regarding produce from Zimbabwe.”
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The organisation said Zimbabwe’s supply windows within the region have also proved to be favourable with the season for most of our produce coming earlier than competitors from Kenya and South Africa.
The Fruit Logistica 2023 trend report indicated that the most important business trends at the expo and on the international market are now moving towards sustainable production practices.
ZimTrade said a snap survey done during the fair showed that a lot more consumers wanted to know that the fruits and vegetables they buy have been produced ethically, are good for the planet as well as their health. The report also states that the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), have brought to the fore the need for sustainable and ethical production that are in line with curbing the effects of climate change.
In response, the organisation said fruit and vegetable growers, suppliers and retailers have set ambitious environmental targets, and investment in sustainability has become a greater priority.
“Energy use, packaging, and transport all require improvement in terms of their efficiency and impact. Resources, people, communities and biodiversity which now need greater protection, are also now of paramount importance not only to retailers but end consumers as well,” it said.
“This was all prominent during the fair as most buyers wanted to know if producers had aligning systems in place or at least had plans to ensure they are aligning to the current trends amid growing calls to adhere to sustainable business practices.”
“This is, therefore, a call to local producers to produce with the market in mind and that entails investing in new technology and new strategies to ensure they remain competitive.”
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