Northwest Horticultural Council
Member nations of the European Union are:
Originally created as a customs union, the EU is a single market in principle and is harmonizing legislation between the 28 member states. Imported products must meet existing member state requirements in cases where EU regulatory harmonization is not yet complete.
All food products legally imported and distributed in one member country of the EU can also be distributed in all other member countries, except in those cases when a country can prove health concerns about the product intended for import.
II. CHEMICALS AND ADDITIVE INFORMATION
A. Chemical residue standards:
Since 2008, all MRLs in the European Union have been harmonized by the European Parliament and Council Regulation 396/2005. The Commission Implementing Regulation 540/2011 establishes a list of approved active substances. For substances not yet evaluated by the EU, legislation allows exporters to request an “import tolerance.” All MRLs, including import tolerances, are applicable to all EU member states.”
The EU Commission sets a default tolerance of 0.01 ppm for commodity/pesticide combinations for which a specific tolerance has not been established.
DPA: In 2013, the EU Commission published the official notification lowering the MRL for DPA due to “several data gaps” on the diphenylamine dossier, as identified by the European Food Safety Authority. The current MRL of 0.1 ppm on apples and pears will remain through January 2018, at which time the MRL may be lowered or increased based on a review of risk and monitoring data.
Ethoxyquin: In 2014, the European Union published a notice (EU Regulation No. 703/2014) reducing the MRL for ethoxyquin on pears from 3ppm to 0.05ppm, effective January 2015.
Quaternary Ammonium Compounds: Traces of antimicrobial/disinfectant compounds have been detected in the European Union (EU) on fruits and vegetables from various origins. These compounds, benzalkonium chloride (BAC) and didecyl methylammonium chloride (DDAC), belong to a group called quaternary ammonium compounds (also known as quats). Our industry currently uses products containing these materials for facility and equipment sanitation. In 2012, the European Commission Standing Committee of the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCoFCAH) determined that the residues of BAC and DDAC would be allowed at an enforcement level of 0.5ppm until August 2015, at which point the MRL would be reduced to 0.1ppm. This temporary MRL will be reviewed within five years, or by December 2019. Specific guidance provided to the EU member states by the European Commission’s DG SACO is available at this link: BAC/DDAC Information.
Denmark, Finland, and Sweden: Concern about the use of antibiotics on pears and apples has moved Denmark to initiate discussions with the EU regarding standards for such applications.
B. Monitoring chemical residues:
EU member countries actively monitor and enforce chemical residues on imported fruit.
C. Restrictions on use of waxes:
The European Union (EU) permits the use of white beeswax, yellow beeswax, candelilla wax, carnauba wax, and shellac on apples and pears (EC Directive 95/2/EC).
Morpholine is not allowed to be present as an additive to waxes or other food coatings. There is active enforcement of this prohibition.
III. ORGANIC FRUIT REGULATIONS
EU Commission Regulations provide detailed rules relating to production, labeling, control, and certification of organic products. Implementation and enforcement of the EU regulations on organic standards is the responsibility of individual member states.
The EU and the United States have negotiated an Organic Equivalence Cooperation Arrangement. Under the arrangement, the EU recognized the USDA National Organic Program as equivalent to the EU Organic Program and will allow U.S. organic products to be marketed in the EU using the EU organic logo. Certain restrictions on exporting U.S. organic apple and pear fruit to the EU continue. Specifically, U.S. certifiers must verify that tetracycline and streptomycin were not used to control fire blight. Also, all products traded under the terms of this arrangement must be accompanied by an organic export certificate.
Details regarding the EU-U.S. Organic Equivalence Cooperation Arrangement may be found at the USDA/AMS web site.
Until the U.S. and the EU implement the “Organic Equivalence Cooperation Arrangement”, entities seeking to export organically certified fruit may do so by:
1.) Obtaining certification through EU recognized certifiers such as the Washington State Department of Agriculture or Oregon Tilth.
2.) Work with an EU importer to obtain permission from their respective EU member State authority on a case-by-case basis.
Although the U.S. National Organic Program and the European Union’s (EU) organic standards are similar, some differences exist. The Washington State Department of Agriculture has a list of additional requirements for the European Organic Verification program at http://agr.wa.gov/FoodAnimal/Organic/FoodProducers.htm. These additional requirements include prohibitions on the use of gibberellic acid (GA) and antibiotics (streptomycin, terramycin). Growers using other certification schemes should consult the competent authorities in those programs for their rules regarding EU organic certifications.
The EU has implemented a new system of electronic Certification of Inspection for organic imports. Starting October 19, 2017, the electronic certificates replace the paper-based Certificates of Inspection.
The EU charges the following tariffs on apple, pear and cherry imports priced at or above the minimum entry price.
Arriving 1/1 – 2/14 4.0 percent
Arriving 2/15- 3/31 4.0 percent
Arriving 4/1 – 6/30 free
Arriving 7/1 – 7/15 free
Arriving 7/16 – 7/31 free
Arriving 8/1 – 12/31 9.0 percent
Arriving 5/21 – 7/15 4.0 percent; in-quota tariff for 800 metric tons
Arriving 6/1 – 6/15 12 percent
Arriving 6/16 – 7/15 6.0 percent
Arriving 7/16 – 7/31 12 percent
Arriving 8/1 – 8/10 12 percent
Arriving 8/11 – 12/31 12 percent
Arriving 1/1 – 1/31 8.0 percent
Arriving 2/1 – 3/31 5.0 percent
Arriving 4/1 – 4/30 free
Arriving 5/1 – 6/30 2.5 percent, subject to a minimum of 1 euro/100kg/net
Arriving 7/1 – 7/15 free
Arriving 7/16 – 7/31 5.0 percent
Arriving 8/1 – 12/31 5.0 percent; in-quota tariff for 1,000 metric tons
Arriving 8/1 – 10/31 10.4 percent
Arriving 11/1 – 12/31 10.4 percent
Note: Import duty rates are expressed as ad valorem tariffs equal to a percentage of the product’s value
Under the terms of the Uruguay Round agreement on agriculture, the EU reference price system for imports of fruits and vegetables was replaced with an entry price system. The system still discriminates against low-priced imports but entry prices, fixed tariffs, and tariff equivalents had to be reduced by 20% over the six-year implementation period of the Uruguay Round. Products valued below the entry price are charged a tariff equivalent in addition to the fixed tariff. The tariff equivalent is graduated for products valued between 92 and 100 percent of the entry price. The fixed tariff and the full tariff equivalent are levied on imports valued at less than 92 percent of the entry price, making imports of lower-priced produce unfeasible.
U.S. imports of apples, pears, and cherries are consistently valued above the entry prices and, therefore, charged only the fixed tariff.
V. NON-TARIFF BARRIERS
A. Labeling requirements:
Labeling has to be in a language easily understood by consumers, e.g., the official language of the member state.
Labeling of individual pieces of fruit. Stickers affixed to individual pieces of fruit may not leave visible traces of glue or damage the skin of the fruit when removed.
Each carton must be marked with the following information:
Apples and Pears (Commission Regulation 1619/2001)
1) packer’s identification, including name and address;
2) nature of the produce (e.g. “apples” or “pears”) and the name of the variety or varieties is required
3) country of origin;
4) class (“extra”, I or II) and size or numerical count (for fruit packed in layers);
5) official control mark (optional);
6) batch identification code.
1) Country of origin
More detailed information concerning labeling requirements and other packaging requirements are available below under section E. EU Marketing Standards
Post harvest labeling: French law requires labeling, at the wholesale and retail level, of fresh fruits exposed to post harvest chemicals.
Labels must indicate when applicable:
– “Conserve au moyen de…” (method of preservation…)
– “traite au…” (treated with…) followed by the name of each post-harvest chemical used on the product.
– “enrobe de cires vegetales” (coated with vegetable waxes), or “agent d’ enrobage…” (coating agent…) followed by the names in French of the waxes.
In approval process.
“Consumer packages: On December 13, 2014, new EU labeling requirements entered into effect for prepackaged food products, including pre-packed whole fresh fruits. These consumer packs should indicate clearly the name or business name and address of the food business operator under whose name the food is marketed. If that operator is not established in the EU, the name and address of the importer should be provided.
Other requirements include:
· Name of the food [for example, cherry]
· Net weight [metric]
· Country of origin
Pre-packed fresh fruits and vegetables should indicate a manufacturing lot number listed on the packaging or on the commercial documents accompanying the product and should be preceded by the letter “L.”
The label should be part of the packaging, either affixed to the packaging or printed on the packaging.
More information may be found in the European Parliament and Council Regulation 1169/2001 at: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2011:304:0018:0063:EN:PDF.
Packaged in a Protected Atmosphere: For fruit that has been packaged in some kind of packing gas to extend shelf life, the words “verpakt onder beschermende atmosfeer”‘/”conditionné’ sous atmosphére protectrice” must be included on the label.
B. Licenses and quotas:
Import licenses are not needed for apples, cherries, or pears.
The EU has an online system (regular weekly reports from the member states to the European Commission) to assist it to monitor imported volumes. Should these “trigger” volumes be exceeded, the EC would be in the position to levy additional duties. These extra duties can only be levied provided an ad hoc decision is made by the EC. The chart below detects the trigger volumes fixed per period.
Period of Application
Trigger Volumes (metric tons)
1/1 to 8/31
9/1 to 12/31
1/1 to 4/30
7/1 to 12/31
5/21 to 8/10
Spain: EU licensing/quota regulations apply. The Spanish Ministry of Economy requires an import document called “Prior Notification of Importation” which can be issued in about five days.
C. Currency Issues:
The euro is the official currency for 17 Member States of the European Union. Those utilizing the single common currency include: Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Spain, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Austria, Portugal, Finland, Greece, Slovenia, Cyprus, Malta, and Estonia. Two Member States, the United Kingdom, and Denmark, opted out of utilizing the euro and retain the use of their traditional currencies, other Members States have yet to meet the conditions for adopting the euro.
D. Pest and plant disease restrictions:
The EU requires that 100% of imported consignments of many plant products undergo phytosanitary inspection upon arrival in the EU unless the plant products qualify for reduced inspection levels.
100% of the pear consignments imported from the U.S. must be inspected.
25% of the U.S. apple consignments must be inspected. Each EU Member State may inspect between 25 and 100 percent of the apple consignments imported from the U.S.
Imported consignments of U.S. cherries quality for a reduced inspection level of 50 percent. Each EU Member State may adopt an inspection frequency, of between 50 to 100 percent of imported consignments from the U.S.
Apple: A phytosanitary certificate (PC) is required. Fruit must be free of quarantine pests specifically Grapholita packardi (cherry fruit worm), Rhagoletis pomonella (apple maggot), Tachypterellus quadrigibbus (apple curculio), and Monilinia fructiciola (brown rot).
Pears, cherries and stone fruit: A PC is required. Fruit must be free of quarantine pests specifically Grapholita packardi (cherry fruit worm), Rhagoletis indifferens (western cherry fruit fly), Tachypterellus quadrigibbus (apple curculio), and Monilinia fructiciola (brown rot).
APHIS requires that the packinghouse provide a copy of the grower pesticide application records for all cherry and stone fruit lot(s) destined for any EU country. Applications of accepted brown rot control materials must be highlighted on the pesticide application record. One application of any accepted material is sufficient to document treatment. A list of plant protection products approved for brown rot control may be found by clicking on this link (Brown rot control materials). This list was excerpted from an on-line version of the Pacific Northwest Plant Disease Handbook published by Oregon State University. Use of any of the materials on this list constitutes effective treatment.
E. EU Marketing Standards:
Specific European Union marketing standards exist for apples and pears. Cherries must meet the European Union general marketing standard or be in conformity with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) cherry standard.
The standards may be found in EU Commission Regulation 543/2011.Fresh fruits are required to be checked for conformity with EU marketing standards for quality and labeling. A conformity certificate is required for all fresh produce shipments destined for the fresh market. Importers can obtain these certificates at the point of import.
F. Solid Wood Packing Material (SWPM) Regulations:
Please refer to the SWPM section of the NHC’s Technical Bulletins and Industry Advice.
G. Other Trade Restrictions:
Germany: Germany has a strict recycling and packaging law. All packaging materials must be easily recyclable. There also are restrictions on the type of pallets allowed. To reduce shipping and cost problems, boxes of apples should be delivered on Europallets, sized 80cm x 120cm. Information on recycling requirements can be obtained from: Duales System Deutschland, Postfach 90 01 51, 51111 Koln. Telephone: (49-2203) 937-0. Facsimile: (49-2203) 937-190.
VI. MARKETING REPRESENTATIVES FOR PACIFIC NORTHWEST TREE FRUIT INDUSTRY:
Washington Apple Commission:
Northwest Cherry Growers/Washington State Fruit Comm. (UK)
VIII. OTHER RESOURCE LINKS:
- The World Factbook (Central Intelligence Agency)
- U.S. Embassy
IX. ADDITIONAL COMMENTS
Special thanks to
U.S. Mission to the European Union