The report provides an insight into the trends in the supplychain for such products and the ways in which the oversupply could be cut, withthe resulting rise in costs for processors. The fruit is mainly turned intopurees, jams and drink concentrates. In the last twenty years, the use of soft fruits and sourcherries by the food processing industry has increased significantly, accordingto an European Commission report. About 43 per cent of total EU production is currently boughtby the food processing sector. Domestic production of currants, gooseberries, raspberries,strawberries and sour cherries amountsto about 1.64 million tonnes annuallyin the EU's 25 members. Poland represented 67 per cent of the EU production destined to the industry. The processing industry also imports about 200,000 tonnes offrozen or pre-cooled product from non-Eu countries. The imports represented 22 per cent of the industries totalsupply, a new Commission report stated. "In 2004, the market of several soft fruits and otherred fruits intended for processing was in a situation of crisis with lowproducer prices," the Commission stated in producing the report. During the crisis the EU's legislators called for a study ofthe situation, resulting in the Commission report, which reports on the oversupply caused byPoland's entry into the EU in 2004. Like other fruit and vegetables, soft fruits and cherriespotentially benefit from the support of the common market organisation through producerorganisations (POs). The support consists in an operational fund that finances aprogramme set up by the PO of which 50 per cent financed by the EU. The EU support cannot exceed 4.1 per cent of the value ofmarketed production of the PO. Support is also provided to producer groups (PGs)that implement a recognition plan to meet the criteria to be recognised as aPO. On the other hand, only few products are covered by specificmeasures in the common market organisation for fresh and processed fruit andvegetables, the Commission noted. Many of the proposed measures call for a strengtening of POs,which can then control and reduce production to raise prices, the Commissionsuggestions. In the strawberry sector supply amounts to around 300,000tonnes annually, of which 220,000 tonnes are frozen strawberries and about 85,000tonnes are processed directly into purees, jams and concentrates. Production of sweet cherries in the EU amounted to 460,000tonnes between 2002 to 2004, with an estimated share of 15 per cent sent to theprocessing industry. France, Italy and Spain mainly use cherries in syrup andother products, preparations with spirit partly for the confectionery industryand for sugar-preservation. Since the beginning of the 1990s, production of preservedsweet cherries has reduced in the EU, partly due to their substitution bypreserved sour cherries imported from central Europe or imported preservedsweet cherries. EU production of sweet cherries prepared with spirit has alsofaced the competition of imports from third countries of similar products. The sector has reduced considerably, the Commission noted. France and Italy are the largest producers ofsugar-preserved cherries in the EU, followed by Spain.
The days of a cheap soft fruits could soon end for theprocessing sector, with the European Commission proposing ways to cut down on the oversupply.