The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Specialised Section on the Standardisation of Fresh Fruit Vegetables held its 71st meeting from 9 to 11 May in Geneva, Switzerland. The meeting was chaired by the PPECB COO, Mr Cyril Julius and was attended by delegates from 21 countries as well as the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Codex Alimentarius, World Customs Organisation, Central Asia Working Group, Freshfel, Interfel, Embrapa Brazil, Committee Linking Entrepreneurship-Agriculture-Development (COLEAD) and the European Commission.

In matters relevant to South Africa: a new standard for sweet potatoes was approved as well as amendments to the quality standards for peas, onions, asparagus, broccoli, sweet chestnuts and kiwi fruit. The variety lists for pears and citrus fruit were also on the agenda but was referred to working groups for the revisions thereof. South Africa will lead the working group that will revise the citrus variety list. South Africa also participates in a UNECE work group that reviews EU standards from a food loss and waste perspective.

In a new development the Specialised Section agreed to a new definition for a “physical address” to be indicated on produce as part of marking requirements. GPS coordinates and a PO Box address together with the nearest town, region, country and postal code will be accepted in cases where an street address is not available, as sometimes occur in deep rural areas.
The PPECB COO presented the key findings of a study carried out in South Africa on the impacts of climate change on the quality of fresh fruit and vegetables produced in South Africa. The study was funded by the OECD and conducted by the PPECB R&D Unit.

Future work of this Specialised Section will include the revision of the standard for cut flowers. The Specialised Section re-elected Mr Cyril Julius (PPECB/South Africa) as its Chairperson and Ms Karen Spruijt-de Gelder (KCB/Netherlands) as Vice-Chairperson.