EU fights to aid peach market bruised by Russian sanctions
The European Union moved on Monday to prop up the hard-hit peach market, badly bruised by poor weather and an import ban by Russia.
The price of peaches and nectarines has plummeted in European stores this year, mostly due to a crop that matured far earlier than usual amid lower demand for the summer fruit due to inclement weather.
"Following the recent decline in prices on the peach and nectarine markets, urgent action is needed to prop up the market and I intend to act immediately," EU Agricultural Commissioner Dacian Ciolos said in a statement.
"I will be proposing today that the European Commission take immediate, retroactive measures aimed at reducing supply and promoting demand," he added.
The sale of peaches has been affected further by the ban by Russia of key farming imports from the EU, with countries such as Greece subject to a major reduction in demand of their peach produce.
"We are monitoring markets closely and I will not hesitate to do likewise to assist other sectors dependent on exports to Russia, should it be necessary," Ciolos said.
And although the steps were already under discussion, "the announcement of import restrictions by Russia risks to further aggravate the market situation and has accelerated the need for action," an EU statement added.
Other than Greece, the main producers of peaches in the EU are Italy, Spain and France.
To fight the falling prices that are squeezing producers, the EU will allow farming cooperatives to withdraw 10 percent of their peach and nectarine supply from the market, an increase from the normally allowed 5 percent.
The EU said it would also release funds for the promotion of peaches, which have suffered from an increased taste for other fruits, such as apricots.
The formal decision to adopt the measures will be taken in the next few weeks, but will be implemented retroactively to Monday if confirmed, the EU said.
EU member states produce 2.5 million tonnes of peaches every year and 1.2 million tonnes of nectarines.
The Russian embargo announced last week came in retaliation against US and European sanctions over Russia's alleged role in separatist violence in the eastern Ukraine.
The year-long embargo bars imports of meats, fruits and vegetables, fish, and dairy products from the EU, the United States, Australia, Canada and Norway.
© 2014 AFP