Fruit Logistica 2024 – Summary

It was a three-day mega event, praised by many and statistically proven by impressive figures. More than 66,000 visitors alongside a further 24,000+ exhibitor staff and 450 media representatives took part in the trade show. 2,770 exhibitors presented their products and tabled innovations. A new record despite the many crises and supply chain distortions around the globe. It was also a trade fair characterized by new marketing approaches highlighted by leading experts at various forums.

Fruit Logistica 2024 attracted exhibitors from 94 countries, and trade visitors from 145+ states – courtesy: Messe Berlin

Noteworthy was also that Fruit Logistica is increasingly becoming a magnet for cargo airlines. Robertino Francisco Veltman, VP Europe, Qatar Airways Cargo, explains why this is the case, speaking on behalf of other carriers: “Perishables are a large part of our global business. The entire industry is here in Berlin. So are we, because we want to show our face to the customers and establish new contacts for growing our business. After all, we serve 164 destinations worldwide. And fresh products are a stable part of our air transports, all year round.”

Many positive ratings
Preliminary findings of an exhibitor and trade visitor survey indicate that around one in two exhibitors concluded business deals during the event. And more might come based on contacts established between exhibiting firms, traders, logistics companies and freight carriers. This is also indicated by the survey because around 90% of the exhibitors rate the chances of follow-up business to be ‘satisfactory’ or even ‘very good’. More than 9 out of 10 would travel to Berlin again for Fruit Logistica 2025, the organizers’ survey revealed.

AI and digitalization are increasingly part of fresh food logistics
One reason for these encouraging ratings might have been triggered by new technologies like AI and digitalization that are tending to play an increasing role in the fruit and vegetables business. The statement by Simone Kejizer, CEO of Netherlands-based Gearbox Innovations B.V., points out: “For us, Fruit Logistica is an excellent opportunity to talk to decision-makers who want to take a further step towards digitalization. They can learn about quality control with the help of AI and understand how easily this technology can be integrated into their existing processes.”

The industry is not free of concerns
One of the critical aspects that stood on the agenda of the trade fair, was the disruption of supply chains. For example, the threat to merchant ships from the Iran-backed Houthi militias in the Red Sea area. In response, many shipping companies ordered their vessels to circumvent Africa instead of risking using the Suez Canal. The detour costs around 10 days, leads to higher greenhouse gas emissions, and does not really improve the quality of the fresh produce, even if they are stowed in reefer containers. Other countries are cut off from their traditional supply chains by the Russian war against Ukraine, and are forced to test alternative trade routes, such as the Republic of Moldova: “The Russian war on Ukraine has made logistics very complicated. Our products must travel longer distances as we cannot risk using Ukrainian harbors,” complained Vladimir Bolea, Minister of Agriculture and Food Industry, Republic of Moldova.

The rate of spoiled goods is alarmingly high
The contemplating voices reflected an increased self-confidence of an industry that does not shy away from self-criticism, which was expressed louder and more pronounced at the Berlin trade show than in previous years. This became obvious at presentations and discussions where experts pointed out that, according to studies, 28% of all agricultural products spoil between field and shelf.

A scandal in view of the malnutrition of many people in poor or war-torn regions, several speakers noted indignantly. What is needed, are more effective packaging and transportation methods from the field to the nearest port or airport, lower water consumption to stop the progressive drying up of fertile agricultural land happening in many regions caused by global warming and, if possible, even a reversal of the trend. “Because we only have this one earth that gives us products and feeds us,” stated an exhibitor from Argentina.

Shift of mindset is needed
Concurrently, the wastage of food must be stopped, whether on cruise ships, in hotels and tourist resorts, but also in private consumption. In other words, what is urgently needed, is a shift of mindset combined with greater ecological awareness. “There must be an end to the current throwaway society,” demanded an expert at a panel discussion.

The next Fruit Logistica will take place from 05-07FEB25, in Berlin.

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