Fruit producers and traders throughout the world are "living dangerously" because UK prices paid have fallen by 14% in the last decade. That's according to Louis Kriel, the past chief overseas executive of Capespan International, and now representing the South African Orange River grape industry. Speaking at the Fresh Produce Consortium conference, he compared this with the index for manufacturers' goods which had risen 35%. Giving the examples listed in the table, he also claimed supermarket deep price cutting tactics did not guarantee increased sales or consumption. "They can even reach a level of no effect' and have a negative effect on the fruit's image," he added. "And the lower prices paid to the growers are not necessarily passed on to the consumer. "Buyers must accept the fact that fine produce cannot be sold continually at below cost," he added. Just how the industry will be able to turn this situation round still remains a problem as multiples become even more competitive. Kriel suggested a new deal should create open book' policies with friendly retailers who saw the opportunities to benefit from underconsumption. He also favoured the concept of developing regional branding or identity to allow customers to choose the best seasonal fruit. "For example there is a need to differentiate between grape varieties," he said. However while ex supermarket director Mike Taylor agreed with the concept, he believes supermarket own label had developed so far that retailers would insist on imprinting their own style on any format. Supermarket selling prices; average all countries of origin p per kg Golden Delicious Bananas Grapes 1996 105 92 317 1997 107 104 325 1998 95 111 310 1999 110 106 292 2000 101 99 275 {{M/E FRESH PRODUCE }}