Global Congress Aims to Increase Citrus Consumption

Tacy CalliesInternational

Speakers at the Global Citrus Congress Live shared ides for strengthening the citrus industry.

Citrus suppliers have a unique opportunity to build on the sales momentum generated by the coronavirus pandemic. They should develop joint strategies to increase global consumption based on established health claims, as the avocado sector has done to such powerful effect. That was the take-home message from the inaugural Global Citrus Congress Live on Nov. 5. The virtual event drew more than 1,300 delegates from 59 countries.

Organized by the World Citrus Organization (WCO) and Fruitnet Media International with the support of the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD), the event brought together producers, exporters, importers, retailers and service providers from all over the world in search of new strategies to build a more sustainable future for the citrus sector.

The creation of the WCO last year has ushered in a more collaborative approach among the world’s leading citrus producers. They recognize the need to work together to claw back the market share lost to other produce categories in recent years.

Setting the scene during the opening session, Philippe Binard of the WCO presented the latest Northern Hemisphere production forecasts. He was followed by CIRAD’s Eric Imbert and Neil Murray from IHS Markit, who outlined the key consumption trends in the fresh and processed sectors.

The session highlighted the need to develop effective solutions to reactivate consumption in the face of significant production increases in some parts of the world and stagnant demand in key markets like Europe.

The congress then heard from Naomi Pendleton of AM Fresh, Limoneira’s John Chamberlain and Mustapha Zemzami of Les Domaines Agricoles about the extensive sustainability efforts these companies are undertaking and the need to communicate them more effectively to the consumer.

The congress then turned to marketing, with John McGuigan from the Hass Avocado Board presenting a powerful case study on how a mandatory sales levy has been used to fund marketing programs and nutritional research that helped make avocados the No. 1 consumed fruit in the United States. McGuigan suggested that a similar revenue model would give the citrus industry a consistent level of investment, allowing it to fund strategically driven health research and a marketing plan to convey the relevant findings to consumers.

Stephan Weist of German supermarket Rewe said that being able to guarantee a homogenous, good quality product in each of the main categories would help retailers lift sales.

A panel discussion between Jose Antonio Garcia of AILIMPO, Zac Lafitte from Wonderful Citrus and Agustina Fabbio from San Miguel Global, reiterated the need to work together effectively as an industry to promote the category as a whole and raise consumption. Justin Chadwick of South Africa’s Citrus Growers Association and co-founder of the WCO, said that while the global citrus industry would continue to be fiercely competitive, it recognized the need to work together to defend and grow its market share.

Source: Global Citrus Congress