The international produce sector rolled into town in Madrid last week at what was the 15th occasion of Fruit Attraction – a leading trade show held each year at a time when for many produce categories, the northern and southern hemisphere seasons switch over.
This makes it an ideal time for producers/exports buyers to meet. Starting 15 years ago, quite modestly, the event has now grown in its significance and size rapidly. The numbers are impressive: almost 90,000 visitors from 140 countries.
The rumour is that Fruit Attraction wants to challenge the position of Fruit Logistica, held in Berlin in February each year, as the premier event in Europe for the fresh produce sector. It certainly has a lot going for it – a more compact set of display/exhibitor halls and of course – the weather – still beautifully warm in early October, which is rarely the case in Berlin in February!
Held over three days, it seemed to be busy right to the end, with lots of discussion going on for the full duration. We held almost 30 meetings over in this time with some interesting recurring themes, as follows:
- the cost-of-living crisis with high levels of supply chain inflation is not going to go away easily, even if input prices and transport costs seem to be at a softer level than 6 – 9 months ago: they are still high. This is causing pressure in all areas: production, packing, distribution and selling
- labour, or rather the lack of it, in many cases, seems to be an issue in many countries. The use of automated tech solutions is, of course, one answer to this, but there is probably no one magic wand to wave here, in order to solve the problems we face
- in terms of market opportunities: the U.S. and China are seen as key markets going forward, but there are also a plethora of other markets that growers and shippers want to do business in: the Gulf region, SE Asia, India and parts of Africa are all still high on the list of priorities for many. Some serious work still needs to be done on working out which markets will really be important in future and which ones might be “nice to have” as opposed to “must have”. And there are still 500 million consumers in the UK and Europe to supply
- the issue of sustainability is not one that is going to go away. It’s a complex and wide ranging subject. It can be difficult at times to know where to start. We often advise clients to begin with the 17 UN Sustainability Development Goals and then look at what their key customers are saying on what seems to be important to them – and align any work in this area to that.
One noticeable thing this year – I hadn’t been to Fruit Attraction since 2021 – was how much more cosmopolitan it seemed to be. No longer is this just a Spanish or even European event. There seemed to be people from all round the world there: from the Middle East, Asia, Latin America and Africa. But not many from the U.S.
There are of course a number of key trade events for the fresh produce sector held each year around the world of note, and it might not be possible to attend them all.
I did wonder though for how long U.S. companies cannot attend this event in the way they seem to show up at other events of a global nature.
And make no mistake, this is where Fruit Attraction has now reached – and the event is not going to stop here. It has become a global event, discussing in many cases, global issues.
It is now firmly part of the international produce calendar of key events. It has a way to catch up Fruit Logistica – the daddy of them all maybe – but this trade show seems to be going from strength to strength.