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EU cuts apple import from other countries

Staff writer |
The European Commission decision on lowering the maximum residue level (MRL) of diphenylamine (DPA) in apples in fact means the cut of all import from the U.S. and other countries.

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The European Commission decision to set the MRL for DPA at 0.01 mg/kg translated in plain English means that the Commission bans import from the United States, it's important trade partner, but also from other apple-producing countries such as some African exporters. The only beneficiaries of this decision will be domestic EU companies.

While U.S. and even European producers hoped for MRL for DPA to be set somewhere between 0.1 and 0.5, the new decision surprised them all and U.S. producers already said that they will stop export to Europe.

In the last six years, apple exports from the U.S. Northwest decreased from more than 1.35 million to around 500,000 boxes, a drop of 60 percent, and pears dropped from around 300,000 to less than 145,000 boxes, a decline of about 50 percent.

The United States Apple Export Council (USAEC), which represents the export interests of 11 apple-producing states in the US, said the European Commission's ruling on DPA could effectively end its trading relationship with European customers. The USAEC members include shippers from California, Virginia, New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and the six states that make up New England.

"All of our members will feel the effects of this and we know we are not the only industry affected. Any industry in the world that has not operated in a DPA-free environment for the last few years will find it very difficult to meet the new requirements," said Scott Lynch, executive director of the USAEC.

DPA is used and accepted in every other market in the world and has been for decades. There is also no evidence of DPA having caused any safety issues, but the EU has still adopted this approach.

"The US industry will of course be looking for alternatives, but DPA has been used for many years, it will continue to be used to treat fruit for domestic and international customers and it could take quite some time before any alternatives become a realistic option. The US apple industry will survive without the European market," added Mr. Lynch.

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