Why fruit and vegetables matters to us

Why fruit and vegetables matter to us

We work hard to help fruit and vegetable growers because a reliable supply of their nutritious produce improves people’s health. Time and again, researchers have proven that fruit and vegetables are rich sources of vitamins, minerals and phyto-nutrients which help prevent malnutrition and health problems.

In 2007, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that approximately 20 per cent of children and adolescents in Europe are overweight or obese. To tackle this problem, recent campaigns advise eating more fruit and vegetables. Such small and simple changes in eating habits improve the quality of life. And we can play a part in that change by boosting the world’s supply of excellent fresh produce.

Fruit and vegetables: the facts

Consequences of vitamin deficiency
Consequences of vitamin deficiency
It is true that we only need tiny amounts of vitamins, but without them our immune system, for example, would be very weak. That is why it is so important to get enough vitamins in winter.
  • Our definition of fruit and vegetables is a wide one. Fruit crops, nuts, grapes and plantation crops such as tea and coffee are referred to as ‘fruit’ whereas potato is a ‘vegetable plant’.
  • Fruit and vegetables are grown on about 240 million hectares of land worldwide.
  • Fruit and vegetables account for around half the value created by global agricultural production – but take up just 19 per cent of world’s cultivated land.
  • During the last two decades vegetable production has increased by about 60 per cent while fruit production has doubled. The largest producer of fruit and vegetables is China, with India and the United States also ranking high.
  • Only about five per cent of the global fruit and vegetable production is exported today. But the value of fresh and processed produce has increased significantly. Since 1990 it climbed from 71 to 243 billion US dollars, more than triplicating across the previous decade.
  • Cultivating fruit and vegetables requires a lot of labor. But revenue per hectare is significant, reaching up to 500,000 euros for crops such as tomatoes in greenhouses.

Problems growers face

Every fruit and vegetable grower has a story to tell – we learn what they need by listening closely to that story.

In the 1840s in Ireland, potato blight led to starvation and a mass exodus of Ireland’s famine-stricken population. The human cost and economic impact were tremendous. The disease still exists but, thanks to effective crop protection products, growers today can manage the control of potato blight and reduce the threat.

Citrus growers in Florida deal with a tiny bacterium that can kill mature trees, while their colleagues in South Africa have red scale to contend with. ‘If we didn’t do anything, this pest would be a nightmare,’ says Gert Bezuidenhout, Managing Director of Ambrosia Citrus Estate in the South African province of Limpopo.

Needless to say that there are many other trouble-makers which can damage fruit and vegetable crops and seriously affect the yield and quality of produce. Besides other pest problems such as spider mites, fruit flies, aphids or certain species of caterpillars, it is important for all growers to control thriving weeds that compete strongly for nutrients, water and light.

(From left to right) Symptoms of brown rot on a citrus fruit, Symptoms of brown rot on a citrus tree, Tomato damaged by Botrytis cinerea.
(From left to right) Symptoms of brown rot on a citrus fruit, Symptoms of brown rot on a citrus tree, Tomato damaged by Botrytis cinerea.
(From left to right) Symptoms of brown rot on a citrus fruit, Symptoms of brown rot on a citrus tree, Tomato damaged by Botrytis cinerea.

Answers we offer

We rank among the world’s leading suppliers of crop protection products for fruit and vegetables. Our reputation rests on fungicides such as Luna™, Nativo™, Profiler™, Infinito™ and Antracol™. In many countries, we also market biological products with microorganism-based antifungal action such as Serenade®, Rhapsody®, Sonata® or Ballad® for fruit and vegetable growers. Our wide range of products gives growers plenty of choice – important, since every orchard has its unique micro-climate and potentially different disease dynamics.

Orchards and vegetable fields are often home to predatory mites or the ichneumon wasp, both of which can be strong allies for growers when it comes to pest control. So that our products don’t harm beneficial insects, we make appropriate recommendations on positioning and placement. Good examples here are modern brands like Envidor™, Oberon™, Movento™ and Belt™. We also market insecticidal biological products such as Requiem®.

To control weeds, growers can count on herbicides like Basta™ and Alion™. Growers with particularly labor-intensive crop management practices need growth regulators like Ethrel™ – used for thinning of flowers and fruits when fruit load is too high or for preparing crops for mechanical harvest.

We also offer nearly 2,500 different seed varieties of about 30 vegetable species. To guard against soil insects growers can pretreat these seeds with Emesto™, Gaucho™ or Sepresto™.

Our technologies for the field

The pressure is on for fruit and vegetable producers, who face tough demands from retailers and shoppers. Produce has to look good, taste great – and last as long as possible. Not just that: growers have to make sure their use of crop protection products abides by the complex rules and regulations set by importing countries and supermarket chains.

We’re here to help, making our expertise available to growers the world over. Beyond products, we provide information on application techniques and the environmentally-friendly disposal of unused product. We go and support growers on their home turf. Our specialists in the field are equipped with an extensive global know-how base which helps them to offer highly specific advice, service and support to customers everywhere in the world.

One of our tools is the Sustainability Radar which identifies for growers their current level of sustainability and how they can raise it through specific improvements to their production processes.

Getting the harvested produce to stores and markets also involves the hard work of processors, exporters and retailers. We work with the whole chain, building Food Chain Partnerships to boost value for everyone.