According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service, a new French ban on the sale of fruits and vegetables with identifying stickers could threaten future exports of U.S. grapefruit. The ban is slated to be implemented on Jan. 1, 2022.
The USDA report states that most U.S. grapefruit and some sweet potatoes shipped overseas have stickers that are used for traceability and marketing purposes. French fruit and vegetable producers and importers will also face a ban on plastic packaging.
In February 2020, the French Parliament passed the anti-waste law for a circular economy. Its aim was to change the country’s production and consumption model to limit waste, preserve natural resources and biodiversity and protect against climate change.
The bill has five main goals:
1) Eliminate disposable plastic
2) Provide consumers better information
3) Reduce waste and increase recycling
4) Prohibit companies from developing products that have an embedded expiry date, known as planned
5) Improve production methods
Article 80 of the bill prohibits non-compostable stickers on fruits and vegetables sold in France. The United States is a large supplier of fruits and vegetables to France, including grapefruit and sweet potatoes.
The situation is especially problematic for U.S. grapefruit exports to France. The United States is the fourth largest supplier of grapefruit to France, with exports exceeding $8 million in 2020. A significant share of the $17 million exports of U.S. grapefruit to the Netherlands and $2.6 million U.S. grapefruit exports to Belgium are sold in France after being transshipped.
Most U.S. grapefruit bear stickers with a price look-up code along with the exporter’s name and other information used for traceability and marketing. If article 80 is implemented, U.S. exporters will only be able to ship grapefruit without stickers, creating logistical and marketing challenges. The volume of grapefruit exported to France in 2022 could be reduced as a result.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service
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