The challenges encountered by the fruit production sector to increase competitiveness in international trade and the efficiency of production and port facilities in the Northeast region were addressed in a webinar conducted by the National Forum Brasil Export on Tuesday, The 16th. Fruit growing occupies approximately 2.5 million hectares in Brazil, generating at least 5 million direct jobs, but suffers from the lack of public policies directed to the sector. Part of this workforce is in areas lacking in wealth-generating initiatives, such as the Brazilian semi-arid region. The president of the Northeast Export Council, Aluísio Sobreira, stressed that fruit exports are generally in the background in the national debate, to the detriment of the soybean and corn complex, but that there is great potential to multiply the business involving fruit growing in the region.
The executive director of the Brazilian Association of Exporting Producers of Fruits and Derivatives (Abrafrutas), Eduardo Brandão, lamented that although it is the third largest producer of fruits in the world, Brazil exported only 3% of what it produced in 2018, occupying the 23rd position among exporting countries. There is room, therefore, to increase the shipment of production abroad. Brandão said he trusts the expansion trend and cited the increase in planting in Piauí and the search for entrepreneurs for areas in the Parnaíba region. He also announced the opening of talks with China for the export of avocado avocado and lime tahiti. "But we need logistical conditions for the fruits to get there with quality. The jump in employment and income in the regions where it is produced is enormous."
The European Union, the United Kingdom and the United States concentrate more than 80% of brazil's fruit exports. The Executive Director of Abrafrutas cited as main obstacles to the opening of new markets phytosanitary barriers, lack of sufficient taxes in ports and airports, lack of public policies to encourage exports and difficulties related to tariff issues, especially the obligation to enter into agreements with other nations together with Mercosur.
The Pecém Industrial and Port Complex, in Ceará, is the main fruit exporting port in the country, strategically located near the mossoró producing pole in Rio Grande do Norte. Among the main assets of the Complex, said the Port Business Manager, Raul Neris Viana, are two regular maritime lines operated by the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), two cold rooms for the inspection of fruits by auent organs, large amounts of plugs for reefers containers, dedicated gate and the natural depth of the Port, an offshore facility that avoids dredging costs. "We are the last port by call to The United States and Europe on the two MSC lines, offering a short transit time and serving a new market in the Middle East through connection with the Port of Valencia[na Espanha]."
The port complex of Ceará moved 18,100,767 tons of cargo between January and December 2019, a result 5% higher compared to 2018. According to Viana, pecém's facilities can currently move up to 25 million tons per year. This operational capacity, the manager told the advisors of Brasil Export, should be expanded in 2020. Work on a new access bridge, a new berth and an additional conveyor belt are already completed, requiring licenses and bureaucratic rites to determine the start of operations. The complex's board expects to inaugurate the equipment in the second half of the year. The Port of Rotterdam, in the Netherlands, the busiest in Europe, holds 30% of the shares of the project on the coast of Ceará, being entitled to the appointment to the board and the Board of Directors of Pecém, including the shared management of the industrial area and the Export Processing Zone (SPA).
The manager of MSC in Fortaleza, Daniel Soares, informed the participants of the videoconference that the company will use, for the first time, a vessel with a capacity of more than 10,000 TEUs to transport fruit exports in the next harvest from the Pecém Complex. For three years the company has been carrying out operations in the port of Ceará, sending, especially, the production of melon and watermelon grown in Mossoró. He explained that the challenge in providing the service is quite peculiar, with concentrated period of shipments, need to operate at the limit of capacity ships, spaces and equipment.
The first regular service offered by MSC aimed at exporting fruits in the Pecém Complex went to Northern Europe, connecting the Ceará development with major ports such as Rotterdam, Hamburg and Antwerp. In 2019, the line for ports in Italy and Spain was inaugurated.
Marcelo Grabois Gadelha, Director of Export at Vita+, reported working with fruit exports since 1990 and having the privilege of seeing the evolution of operations, since when fruits were stored in basements, not in refrigerated containers. According to him, the financial margins for the export of fruits are very small, which increases the pressure for the efficiency of the entire logistics chain for success in international trade.
Knowledgeable of the region, he praised the cultivation of fruits in Mossoró, a municipality located about 4 hours by land from Pecém, allowing a transit time of only 8 days to take the fruits exported to Spain and the Mediterranean. The incorporation of technology is fundamental for the access of Brazilian fruits to the most demanding market, Gadelha noted. Traceability codes are applied to the packaging of fresh fruits to control the origin of production and the entire route of the goods to the final destination.
(Text: Bruno Merlin)