What was the market situation?
With around 40 million tons of fruit produced each year and 2.5 million hectares under cultivation, Brazil is the world’s third-ranked fruit producer behind India and China. In addition, some six million jobs are directly dependent on this industry. Vegetables are grown on around 820,000 hectares. Fruit is grown in all regions of Brazil, with climate-related regional specializations. For example, tropical fruits are grown in the north and northeast of the country whereas fruits favoring a subtropical or temperate climate predominate in the south and southeast regions. Harvesting times vary from region to region, depending on the varieties, climatic conditions, and crop management.
The starting point for this Food Chain Partnership initiative was the demand for increased traceability in the fruit and veg market. In Brazil traceability has become a reality through the RAMA fruit and veg tracking and monitoring program created by the Brazilian supermarket association ABRAS. Set up in response to the global retail trend of offering customers assured food safety, RAMA is a voluntary program that promotes good agricultural practices. With retail outlets responsible for selling around 60 % of fruit and vegetables produced in Brazil, RAMA is a key component for successfully marketing such produce.
As one of Brazil’s leading fruit and veg suppliers, Extrafruti was keen to offer traceable produce to supermarkets participating in the RAMA program. In February 2016 Extrafruti learned about Bayer’s work in the traceability field and asked for support in implementing the program for its 2,000 suppliers. The ultimate goal is to ensure that 100 % of Extrafruti’s growers implement the traceability process. Currently, well over 700 are being tracked.
left: Jonas Gardino, Sales Representative, Bayer <br>right: Leonardo Lourenço, Director of shared services, Extrafruti
What were the challenges?
The main challenge in implementing the traceability process was ensuring compliance with the required MRL levels in order to deliver safe produce to supermarkets participating in the RAMA program. In addition, suppliers had to guarantee that only registered crop protection products were being used and good agricultural practices applied. Last but not least, there was the need to educate the fruit and veg growers so that they understood the program’s necessity and requirements.