New Initiatives in Southern Hemisphere

Originally printed in the April 2021 issue of Produce Business.

The Southern Hemisphere Association of Fresh Fruit Exporters (SHAFFE) was founded in the early 1990’s from the leading trade organisations from Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, New Zealand, Peru, South Africa and Uruguay. The idea was to form a common platform for exchange on the most crucial market access matters in Northern Hemisphere markets, including phytosanitary protocols, food safety, consumption, and trade trends. In its more than 30 years of existence, SHAFFE has undertaken important initiatives, such as setting up data-sharing on key crops, organize global membership forums, develop joint research initiatives, analyse and monitor policy changes in global markets as well as provided important exchange and learning opportunities amongst its members.

With the digital era kicking in — accelerated by the current pandemic conditions and in the context of an increasingly more complex global trading environment — SHAFFE members took the initiative of focusing on strengthening cooperation far beyond the existing way of going about the association’s usual business. Hence its members developed a strategic plan of action with the objective of connecting the Southern Hemisphere’s fresh fruit industry through knowledge-sharing, facilitating market access and promoting global fruit trade.

With a renewed Secretariat and a new presidency led by Mr. Charif Christian Carvajal M. from the Chilean Fruit Exporters Association (ASOEX) and Ms. Marta Bentancur from Upefruy Uruguay, the organisation is focusing on strengthening resource availability, creating a supportive environment for formation of fruit trade professionals, developing closer collaborations with other similar industry bodies, modernizing information sharing, and communicating the role and contribution of SHAFFE to the global produce trade.

With the objective of bringing Southern Hemisphere and Northern Hemisphere industries closer together in a period of limited travel and to allow better planning for the upcoming year, SHAFFE kicked off 2021 with its very first “Southern Hemisphere Fresh Fruit Trade Congress” under the defining theme “Keeping the world supplied” in the last week of March 2021.

Solid history and new beginnings: Southern Hemisphere fruit growers and exporters usher in a new era of cooperation, facilitation, formation and connectivity.

John Giles of Promar International Ltd, who has years-long experience in cooperating with trade associations, attended the conference and chronicles the strategic evolution of the organisation:

SHAFFE is in many ways a remarkable organisation. Together, the countries involved account for around 11 million tonnes of fruit exports, worth some US$14 billion and which account for about 25% of world trade. SHAFFE’s first online congress bought together over 326 delegates from around the world. What struck me, in particular, was how much these countries have in common, despite to some extent all being in competition with each other. Among the challenges they all have to overcome the next few years — as well as the opportunities they have to take advantage of — include the following:

Fruit consumption in many parts of the world is still below the recommended levels as set by the WHO.

Considerable disruption to international trade caused by the COVID pandemic requires a need a need for the redevelopment of dynamic and resilient trade infrastructure.

There is a need to meet the challenges of climate change, water scarcity and the development of a more holistic view of sustainability and what it means.

The adoption of so-called “green tech” presents the opportunities for better crop yields, reduced wastage, reduced costs of production and better levels of efficiency.

There needs to be more collaboration between governmental/NGO organisations and the private sector in more agile, innovative and proactive partnerships to bring about “transformative change.”

There is a common issue with the availability and movement of seasonal labour.

• The better use of e-commerce and trends toward healthy eating are great opportunities and key market-drivers for the future.

There will be new plantings and the development of new varieties across the SHAFFE countries.

There is concern over the rising cost of agricultural inputs and the increase in domestic protectionism and “eat local” campaigns.

The feedback received suggests that despite the obvious challenges ahead, optimism in SHAFFE is high: 70% of respondents in a SHAFFE survey felt that 2021 would be a good export season, and 80% thought that the future prospects over the next 5 years were similarly positive.

It seems to me that many agri food sectors around the world could learn from the collaborative approach of SHAFFE taken to tackling common problems, such as knowledge-sharing and tech-transfer work, market access covering both tariff and non-tariff barriers, the development of sustainable agricultural and horticultural production and global trade development.

But as the newly elected President of SHAFFE, Charif Christian Carvajal also said: “SHAFFE, will only be as strong as its most proactive members”. Never a truer word spoken.

For more information on SHAFFE, please visit the website:

Nelli Hajdu is the Secretary General of the Southern Hemisphere Association of Fresh Fruit Exporters. She is also trade policy director for Freshfel Europe and advising international development projects with focus on perishable trade.

John Giles is a Divisional Director with Promar International, the consulting arm of Genus plc. He has worked on fresh produce and agri food supply chain assignments in over 60 countries around the world, including South Africa, Chile, Peru, Australia, NZ and Brazil.