Within Europe, the Netherlands and Belgium are important trade hubs with significant re-exports of imported tropical frozen fruit. In 2019, frozen fruit imports by both countries showed high growth rates. Poland and the United Kingdom import the least among the top-six leading importing countries; however, imports to both Poland and the UK showed high growth rates in the past five years, and hence both offer opportunities for new developing country suppliers. Other large European importing countries of tropical frozen fruit are Germany and France.
- The Netherlands: the largest importer and a re-exporting country
The Netherlands is Europe’s largest importer of frozen tropical fruit. The country’s €27 million in imports account for almost 19% of total European frozen tropical fruit imports. In the past five years, Dutch frozen tropical fruit imports showed some variation, most likely caused by fluctuations in the main markets targeted by Dutch traders. Between 2015 and 2019, the average yearly growth was 2.6%, indicating an upward trend in recent years, after a -13% drop in 2017 over 2016.
Compared to the other leading importing countries and regions, Europe imports a large share of tropical frozen fruit sourced directly from developing countries: 83%. In the 2015–2019 period, the average annual growth of Europe’s tropical frozen fruit imports was 2.2%. In 2019, the leading supplying country of tropical frozen fruit to the Netherlands was Peru, followed by India, Vietnam, and Belgium. Brazil is the developing country whose share of Europe’s tropical frozen fruit imports is the fastest growing, but at just 3.9% it is still a relatively small share compared to other suppliers.
Although the Netherlands is a large importer of frozen tropical fruit, the country is not a large consumption market itself, since most of the imported volume is re-exported to other destinations. As such, the Netherlands is an important hub for tropical frozen fruit, responsible for 14% of the total European imports. The export of tropical frozen fruit from the Netherlands to other European countries has increased from €14 million in 2015 to €20 million in 2019, at average annual growth of 9.9%.
In the Netherlands, the consumption of tropical frozen fruit is boosted by the healthy eating trend and the popularity of smoothies and juice bars across the country.
- Germany: Peruvian supplies almost double every year
The German tropical frozen fruit import value was €22 million in total in 2019, equivalent to 15% of total EU imports. German imports increased annually by 5.3% in value on average between 2015 and 2019, in spite of the 2019 6.6% drop with respect to 2018.
Compared to the Netherlands, Germany’s imports of tropical frozen fruit from developing countries is relatively small. Some 52% of Germany’s tropical frozen fruit import value in 2019 was sourced from developing countries. However, Germany’s imports of tropical frozen fruit from developing countries have increased in the past five years at an average annual growth of 16%. In the other direction, Germany’s imports from other EU countries showed a downward trend: -2.2% average annual growth. This movement indicates that Germany increasingly imports tropical frozen fruit directly from developing countries instead of through European re-exporting countries, like the Netherlands.
The leading suppliers of tropical frozen fruit to Germany in value are Peru and the Netherlands, accounting for a share of 25% and 24% respectively among Germany’s total imports. India, Vietnam and Belgium follow with much smaller shares between 6.5% and 9.1%. The main supplier of tropical frozen fruit to Germany — Peru — is also the country whose share in German imports of tropical frozen fruit showed the highest growth in the past five years, since Peru’s exports to Germany almost doubled in value year on year in this period.
Consumption of tropical frozen fruit in Germany is boosted by the healthy eating trend. German consumers are increasingly using tropical frozen fruit for home preparation of smoothies and in breakfast cereals and bowls. In order to make the preparation of smoothies more convenient, some German companies have introduced ready-to-blend mixtures.
German fruit ingredient companies manufacture different products with tropical frozen fruit. These companies are large users of tropical frozen fruit, supplying different market segments, such as dairy, ice cream, bakery, beverages, and other food industries.
- France: intra-EU trade is dominating
In 2019, the French tropical frozen fruit market was somewhat similar in value to Germany. The French import value was €21 million in total in 2019, making up 14% of total EU tropical frozen fruit imports. This makes France Europe’s third-largest importer of tropical frozen fruit, after French imports increased annually by 3.9% in value between 2015 and 2019.
As opposed to the Netherlands and Belgium, France does not source much tropical frozen fruit from developing countries; only 25% is imported from developing countries, meaning that the lion share comes from other European countries. With these figures, France is the country that shows the lowest share in tropical frozen fruit imports from developing countries. The average annual growth of developing countries was slightly negative (-0.2%), while imports from European countries was positive (5.3%).
The leading suppliers of tropical frozen fruit to France are the two European re-exporting countries, Belgium and the Netherlands, with a share of 29% and 26% of France’s tropical frozen fruit imports respectively. Madagascar, Germany and India are the following important suppliers to France, although their shares are much smaller, varying from 5.9% to 7.4%. Madagascar showed the strongest growth in tropical frozen fruit exports to France over the last five years at almost 60% per year.
Looking at France’s exports of tropical frozen fruit to the European market, value has almost doubled in the past five years, from €3.4 million in 2015 to €6.3 million in 2019 (+17% per year).
Tropical frozen fruit are increasingly used for the home preparation of smoothies. Because of that trend, producers are increasingly making ready-to-blend smoothie mixtures, such as the smoothie mixtures of Carrefour, France’s leading French retailer. Private label products dominate French retail sales of tropical frozen fruit.
A large consumer of tropical frozen fruit in France is the bakery industry, which is using tropical fruit preparations as fillings for pastries, cakes, and other products. Those fruit preparations are made by specialised companies, such as Valade Groupe, Capfruit,or Ponthier.
- Belgium: trade hub for tropical frozen fruit
Like the Netherlands, Belgium does not consume most of its tropical frozen fruit imports locally, but instead re-exports tropical frozen fruit to other destinations. Belgium is a very concentrated market for frozen food, as the country is home to a small number of very large importers, which are also European market leaders, for example, Crops, Greenyard Frozen (Pinguin Foods), and Ardo. These specialised Belgian frozen food companies act as re-exporters, processors and suppliers to food retail, food service and industry segments across Europe.
Belgium’s imports of tropical frozen fruit fluctuated between 2015 and 2019, the most significant drop in value happening in 2018: -13%. However, the flow recovered in 2019 (+20%) to a total value of €16 million. On average, Belgian imports of tropical frozen fruit increased annually by 2.6% in value in the past five years.
Belgium is the European country with the highest share of direct tropical frozen fruit imports from developing countries: 84%. Growth of tropical frozen fruit imports from developing countries was moderate in the 2015–2019 period at 3.2% per year. With an export value of €6.6 million and a share of 41% of Belgian’s imports, Peru is the number one supplier of tropical frozen fruit to Belgium. Mexico (21%) and India (12%) rank second and third.
The Netherlands, the other main hub for tropical frozen fruit in Europe, also represents a relatively high share (6.6%) of Belgian imports of tropical frozen fruit.
As for exports to other European destinations, Belgium’s export value increased from €13 million in 2015 to €18 million in 2019, at an annual average growth of 8.9%. Belgium is responsible for 12% of the total supply of tropical frozen fruit to Europe.
One of the drivers for the increased consumption of tropical frozen fruit is the home preparation of smoothies and the development of smoothie and juice bars. One of the leading suppliers of frozen smoothies solutions in Belgium is Crops, which even organises lectures to produce innovative smoothie flavours in their Smoothie Academy development centre in Ooigem.
- Poland: the strongest growth market
Poland’s market for tropical frozen fruit had the highest average import growth in value over the last five years and the only one showing non-stop growth every year in the period. Polish imports of tropical frozen fruit increased from €5 million in 2015 to €13 million in 2019, an average increase of 24%, enough to push Poland’s imports higher than those of the United Kingdom. This trend of growing imports of frozen tropical fruit is in line with Poland’s development in the last decade into one of Europe’s processing hubs for food and fruit products, such as juices, jams, etc.
Some 58% of Poland’s tropical frozen fruit imports come from developing countries. Although this share is not as high as those of Belgium and the Netherlands, it is noteworthy because the average annual growth has been high. Polish imports of tropical frozen fruit from developing countries have increased 56% on average in the past five years. Intra-EU trade only increased with 7% on average and even showed a large drop (-29%) in 2019.
Peru is by far the largest supplier of tropical frozen fruit to Poland, exporting almost €4.9 million in value, which account for 39% of Poland’s imports. Peruvian tropical frozen fruit exports to Poland more than doubled every year in the last five years. Germany and the Netherlands are the second- and third-largest suppliers to Poland, with shares of 20% and 8.8% respectively.
- The United Kingdom
The United Kingdom’s imports of tropical frozen fruit increased from €8.0 million in 2015 to €12 million in 2019, at a strong average annual growth of 12%. The UK accounts for 8.6% of total EU tropical frozen fruit imports.
Developing countries and European countries have a somewhat similar share in supplying tropical frozen fruit to the United Kingdom: 49%. However, intra-EU trade is increasing at a much faster pace than imports from developing countries. Over the past five years, imports from European countries were up by 29% per year whereas the growth rate of developing countries was 6.5%.
The largest European suppliers of tropical frozen fruit to the United Kingdom are France (25%), the Netherlands (13%) and Belgium (8.7%), together accounting for a share of 47% of the UK’s imports in value. In terms of direct imports, the United Kingdom sources mostly from Peru (14%) and Vietnam (11%). Among the tropical frozen fruit suppliers to the UK, France’s exports grew the most in the last five years at an average annual growth rate was 85%.
Use of tropical frozen fruit in the UK is stimulated by the increasing consumption of smoothies. The retail segment is almost fully dominated by private label brands, as there is hardly any independent brand with a significant market share. As a result, innovation in the shelves comes from private label brands, such as ready-to-blend mixtures by Love Smoothies and Pack’d. The British retail chain Waitrose has also developed LoveLife smoothie mixtures in cooperation with frozen food company Ardo UK. In light of the small participation of independent brands in food retail, it is rather striking that one of the most known smoothie brands in Europe, Innocent, is from the United Kingdom, although it is also the leading brand in British food retail as well.