In the light of the results of the previous season, the frozen vegetable producing industries in the European Union (EU) have analysed the market prospects for 2002. 

After two consecutive years of relatively modest production due to very unfavourable weather conditions, they reported that the stocks carried over in most countries have fallen to particularly low levels. For some vegetables, stocks are empty and the transition to marketing year 2002 could be very delicate.

It is generally considered however that increasing numbers of consumers are appreciating the nutritional virtues and the practical advantages of ready to use frozen vegetables. In the EU, this trend reflected in an average growth in consumption of around 5% in 2001 and the Q1 2002. And there are some reports of a real explosion in retail sales at the end of 2001 which can only be partly explained by difficulties in obtaining fresh vegetables.

According to the production programmes planned by companies in the EU, if weather conditions are normal, production could meet the increase in demand among European consumers.

For 2002, processing capacities should be comparable to those last year. More importantly, the entire frozen vegetable sector - both industrialists and agricultural producers - has decided to continue with its efforts to optimise the quality and safety of the products that it offers to consumers, despite the effects that such a voluntary policy can have on its cost structure.

The areas given over to the cultivation of vegetables for industry are stable, with few prospects in the short and medium term of a growth in agricultural production, which must incorporate numerous environmental parameters that are essential for proper management of land and water.

In addition, as in a good many sectors in general and in the agri-foodstuffs industry in particular, all costs linked to the production, processing and marketing of frozen vegetables are rising considerably, with appreciable increases in the cost of raw materials (crop protection programs, certification procedures for growers), energy, logistics, packaging, insurance and waste management.