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Russian ban and big crops saw 20% drop in returns to Europe’s pear and apple growers

The 2015 apple production in the EU will decrease 5% compared with last year’s crop. The pear crop is predicted by European growers to decrease by 4% compared with 2014.

More than 300 representatives of the international apple and pear sector met at the 39th Prognosfruit Conference on 6th August 2015 in Merano, Italy, where WAPA (World Apple and Pear Association) released the 2015 European apple and pear crop estimates.

The 2015 apple production in the EU will decrease 5% compared with last year’s crop.

The pear crop is predicted by European growers to decrease by 4% compared with 2014. Additionally, the 2015 crop promises to be of good quality given the generally favourable climatic conditions and overall fruit size.

Despite concerns about the difficult conditions at the start of last season, through strong promotional activities, European countries sold their entire crops earlier than planned. However, the Russian embargo, together with the relatively large crop, resulted in an average reduction of 20% in returns to growers, many of whom suffered losses. This occurred despite the support measures made available by the EU which resulted in approximately 250,000 tons of apples and pears being given for free for distribution and the benefit of a considerably lower € to $ exchange rate which helped to increase exports.

Hans van Es, Chairman of the Fruit and Vegetable Committee of Copa-Cogeca, said: “The European apple crop last year was 15% higher than 2013, whilst pears were 5% greater. The industry had to content with the ban imposed by Russia, but despite these two factors, the industry sold the entire crops earlier than expected. The on-going support from the European Commission to alleviate the effects of the Russian embargo is greatly appreciated by the industry. However, the reduction in returns to growers is a considerable concern which unless corrected during the coming season will have an adverse impact on future investment and production.”

Apple forecast

The 2015 European crop forecast for apples is 11.974.000 tons, 5% lower than last year. It should be noted that this volume is 7% higher than the average for the last three years. The estimates for varieties are as follows:

  • Golden Delicious will decrease by 5% to 2.54 million tons
  • Gala will remain stable at 1.33 million tons
  • Idared is forecast to decrease by 7% to 1.11 million tons
  • Red Delicious will increase by 5% to 644,000 tons

Significant changes in other Northern Hemisphere countries are: Russia (+4%), China (+7,5%) and Ukraine (+16%), while production is set to drop in the US (-4%), Switzerland (-4%) and Canada (-26%).

Pear forecast

The total forecast pear crop in 2015 is 2.34 million tons, 4% lower than last year. However, this is 6% higher than the average crop of the last three years.

  • Conference will decrease by 4% to 934,000 tons,
  • Abate Fetel by 7% to 334,000 tons, and
  • William BC by 5% to 262,000 tons.

Elsewhere in the Northern Hemisphere crops have either increased compared to last year, as in US (+1%), China (+7,5), Turkey (+36%), Russia (+4%) and Ukraine (+7%); or decreased, as in Switzerland (-11%).

WAPA President Daniel Sauvaitre said: “The prospects for the coming season are better than a year ago. The European crop is slightly lower, European stocks are negligible, there are unlikely to be overhanging stocks from the Southern Hemisphere and considerable progress has been made in developing exports overseas. However, a great concern is the damaging reduction in returns to growers. Most countries have reported increases in consumption which is a very positive trend for the industry and growers deserve to be congratulated on ever improving product quality and the beneficial effects of strong promotional activity.”

WAPA will continue to monitor the development of the Northern Hemisphere crop and issue updates as necessary

Based in Brussels, WAPA was founded in August 2001 with the objectives of providing a forum for discussion on matters of interest to the apple and pear business and initiating recommendations to strengthen the sector. WAPA members include the Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Scandinavia, Slovenia, South Africa, the UK and the US.


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US Government expected to make record apple buy

“The largest USDA apple purchase in history” is how the US Apple Association describes the US Department of Agriculture’s plans to buy fresh apples and processed apple products for surplus removal.

“The largest USDA apple purchase in history” is how the US Apple Association describes the US Department of Agriculture’s plans to buy fresh apples and processed apple products for surplus removal.

In its announcement of the purchase program, the USDA did not specify an amount, but the association said it would include 34.9 million pounds of fresh apples and 16.1 million pounds of processed apple products. It said the bonus buy, with an estimated value of $18.3 million, will supplement the USDA’s supply for nutrition programs, such as the school lunch program.

“Coming on the heels of what was likely the largest apple crop in US history, this USDA purchase is welcome news and we thank the department for it,” said US Apple Association president & CEO Jim Bair.

The USDA said an invitation for bid (solicitation) will be issued in the near future for deliveries August through December.


USDA announcement

US Apple Association press release


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Russian ban spells shrinkage in apple trade

APPLES red - Edited

Global apple crop will also contract this year – to just under 71 million tons – despite bumper season in the EU, USDA projections show

Global trade in fresh apples is set to drop more than 5% in 2014/15, mainly due to Russia’s ban on fruit from certain countries, says the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). Indeed, Russian imports will likely plunge 27% on the previous marketing year, to 800,000 tons, the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Services forecasts in its “Fresh Deciduous Fruit (Apples, Grapes, & Pears): World Markets and Trade” report.

Imports from other countries are not expected to replace these volumes due in part to the devaluation of the rouble, a slumping economy, and rising inflation in Russia, it said. EU apple imports are headed downwards, too. The USDA predicts a drop of 12% on last season, to 550,000 tons, “as increased output and the effect of the Russian ban saturate the domestic market.” And apple imports into the US are also predicted to slide, in this case by 11% to 190,000 tons.

Growth in Mexico, Canada, India, Brazil and China

But on the positive side, growth on 2013/14’s imports is expected in Mexico, Canada and India, with respective volumes of 260,000, 225,000 and 200,000 tons. The USDA data also shows Brazil’s apple imports (for which Argentina and Chile are usually the main suppliers) had a growth spurt from 94,000 tons in 2012/13 to 117,000 the next year and are expected to surge to 150,000 this marketing year as production in Brazil stays at about 1.33 million tons. And in China, apple imports are set to rebound to earlier levels – about 40,000 tons – thanks to higher domestic prices making imports more attractive and the re-opening of the market to Washington state apples.

Read more on page 93 of edition 135 of Eurofresh Distribution magazine.


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Organic pear, avocado and apple imports increasing in the US



US imports of certified organic pears, avocados and apples are showing triple digit growth in value for the first ten months of this year, compared to the same period last year.

And organic garlic, non-greenhouse bell peppers and blueberries have notched up double digit gains.

Organic bananas and mangoes, however, are at both values and volumes less than half those of 2013. Nevertheless, bananas, followed by apples, avocados and mangoes, lead in total value imported among those organic fresh fruits and vegetables being tracked by the USDA.

The figures come from the selected organics section of the Foreign Agricultural Service’s Global Agricultural Trade System (GATS), which was updated this week with data to the end of October 2014.


Pears*: those entering US between April 1-June 30 inclusive

Avocados*: Hass avocados and others considered Hass-like, fresh or dried

Apples*: fresh, valued at more than 22 cents/kg

Bell peppers*: other than greenhouse, fresh or chilled

Mangoes*: entering US September 1–May 31, fresh

Mangoes **: entering US between June 1–August 31, fresh


US imports Jan-Oct 2014 for selected organic produce

Imported organic item

VALUE (in thousands of USD)


% Change in Value Jan-Oct 2014 vs same period 2013

% Change in Vol. Jan-Oct 2014 vs same period 2013






Apples Fr >22Cents/Kg





Avocado-Hslike Fr/Dr





Mangoes Fresh 9/1-5/31





Mangoes Fresh 6/1-8/31





Bell Peppers Fr Other





Pears Fresh (April 1-June 30)





Bell Peppers Greenhse





Cultiv Blueberries Fr





Pears Fresh Other Time












Partner Product Value (in thousands of US$) Qty (MT) % Change Value (Jan-Oct 2014 on Jan-Oct 2013) % Change Vol. (Jan-Oct 2014 on Jan-Oct 2013)
World Total Pears Fresh Other Time 2,926 3,026.3 -14 4
Argentina Pears Fresh Other Time 2,889 2,988.7 -12 9
Chile Pears Fresh Other Time 38 37.6 -67 -72
World Total Pears Fresh 4/1-6/30 8,524 7,521.3 228 242
Argentina Pears Fresh 4/1-6/30 8,361 7,409.9 227 245
Chile Pears Fresh 4/1-6/30 163 111.4 342 141


US IMPORTS OF FRESH ORGANIC APPLES (at price >22Cents/Kg) Jan–Oct 2014
Measurement units: Val 1,000 USD, Vol 42LBC
Partner Value Qty % Change in Value on same period in 2013 % Change in Vol. on same period in 2013
World Total 29,396 1,374,204.4 100 68
Chile 18,000 848,496.4 89 61
Argentina 8,627 353,417.6 259 237
New Zealand 2,079 150,790.0 5 -1
Canada 691 21,500.3 -11 -30

US imports of fresh organic cultiv. BLUEBERRIES Jan-Oct 2014
Partner Value in ‘000 US$ Qty in tons % change in value on Jan-Oct 2013 % change in quantity on Jan-Oct 2013
WORLD TOTAL 5,975 1,321.9 43 75
Chile 4,104 1,144.4 15 58
Argentina 1,852 172.5 384 712
South Africa 19 4.9


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France’s MedFEL 2015 to feature new tech business gathering



Apples will be in the spotlight at next year’s MedFEL in Perpignan, the 7th edition of France’s ‘must-attend’ trade fair for the fruit and vegetable sector.

To be held April 21-23 at the Parc des Expositions (Exhibition centre), MedFEL 2015 will provide a comprehensive overview of apples and forecasts for this and four other fruits (apricots, peaches, melons and plums) as part of the programme of debates.

And the event features the launch of MedFEL Tech, a business gathering for fresh produce suppliers from the Mediterranean – which will see pre-production professionals invited to exhibit for the first time – as well as discussions on the difficulties facing the fruit and vegetable sector, the consequences of the Russian embargo, and the French agrifood sector contract.

Organised by Sud de France Développement and the Languedoc-Roussillon Regional Council, MedFEL has grown consistently over the last seven years. Last year’s edition attracted 5,315 visitors (up 10% on 2013), including the F&V sector’s most important buyers, and 241 exhibitors, and was the venue for more than 4,000 BtoB meetings.


To register :

Adhesion Group – 35/ 37 rue des Abondances  – 92513 Boulogne Cedex – France

Nicolas Cuissard  – Tel: +33 (0)1 41 86 49 03  – Email :

Press contacts:

Sud de France Développement – Jérôme Bouchindhomme

Tel: +33 [0] 4 99 64 29 36

Adhesion Group – Catherine Bourguignon

Tel : +33 (0)1 41 86 41 27







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Italy faces larger apple crop but decline in pears, table grapes


USDA FORECASTS 2014/15 MARKETING YEAR (in metric tons)


APPLES (marketing year July/June)


Production: up 11% rise to 2.38 million

Exports: down slightly (less than 0.5%) to 870,000

Imports: down slightly (just under 3%) to 41,000


PEARS (marketing year July/June)

Production: down 2.6% to 707,000

Exports: 146,000 (down slightly from 146,601)

Imports: 103,000 (up slightly from 102,209)

(World’s top pear producers: China, US, Italy)


TABLE GRAPES (marketing year June/May)

Production: down 20% to 960,000 on record of 1.2 million in 2013/2014

Exports: 470,300 (down from 500,971)

Imports: 22,320 (up from 20,237)

Withdrawal from market: 9,300

(World’s top table grape exporters: Chile, US, Italy)



The weather has favoured Italy’s 2014/15 apple marketing season but not that of its table grapes and pears, according to new forecasts by the USDA.

The country’s apple crop is expected to increase by 11% but, after a record harvest last season, that of table grapes will drop a fifth, mainly due to adverse conditions during flowering and fruit set.

And heavy rainfall during the fruit setting and maturity phases makes a 2.6% drop likely in the country’s pear supply compared to last season, the USDA said in its report “Italy: Fresh Deciduous Fruit Annual 2014”.


Apples: potential in North Africa, the Middle East


The fruit size for the apple season is expected to be above average and quality high.

“Remarkable increases” are forecast for Red Delicious (+19.6%), Granny Smith (+19.6%), Fuji (+12.1%), and Golden Delicious (+9.5%).

Last season, Italy’s apple exports to Russia (mostly Granny Smith and Golden) reached 26,318 tons but in light of the Russian ban since imposed, Italy’s apple sector could look to the growing markets of North Africa and Middle East, the USDA said.

Italy grows about a fifth of the EU-28’s apple production, with Trentino-South Tyrol – which delivers 70% of Italian apple production – alone supplying 15% of the European crop.



Pears: decline in acreage

With about 34,241ha, mainly in the northeast, Italy is the EU-28’s largest pear producer but the total of its pear orchard area has been declining in the last decade “due to lack of profitable investment opportunities,” the USDA said.

Emilia-Romagna is the area supplying two thirds of Italy’s total pear crop.

Abate Fetel is the dominant variety, followed by William B.C., Conference, Kaiser, Coscia-Ercollini, Decana, Max Red Bartlett, and Santa Maria. Production decreases are forecast for Kaiser, Decana del Comizio, Santa Maria, and William.

Table grapes: drop in wholesale prices

Aside from the unfavorable weather during flowering and fruit set, cold temperatures in mid-July damaged several plantations “thus affecting the fruit quality which overall is forecast to be good,” the USDA said.

“The production drop, slow consumption, and the Russian ban made wholesale prices drop by 25-30% compared to the last season from 1.30-1.50 €/kg to 0.70-1.20 €/kg.”

Italian table grape production – which ranks sixth globally in volume – is mainly in  Apulia and Sicily, with Italia, Victoria, and Red Globe the varieties accounting for two thirds of the table grape area.

“In the last few years, Italy has gradually moved to seedless grapes cultivation, due to an increasing demand from intra and extra EU markets. Sugraone and Crimson are the most popular seedless varieties followed by Thompson, Centennial, and Sublime,” the USDA said.

Read the report:








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Chile’s table grape, pear and apple production bouncing back



Mother Nature has smiled on Chile lately, with weather favouring increases in its apple, table grape and pear crops for next year, according to new forecasts from the USDA. Table grape and pear production are set to climb 14.2% and 8.6% respectively, it said in its report, “Chile: Fresh Deciduous Fruit Annual”.


Fresh table grapes

Stable weather conditions in all production areas augurs for a 14.2% increase to about 1.2 million tons of table grapes for Chile’s 2015 marketing season, starting in January, the USDA reported.

Table grape export volumes are expected to rise 14.6% on last year thanks to both the higher production and more consignment shipments of table grapes. The US is Chile’s main foreign market for table grapes, taking more than 40% of exports, with the EU the next biggest.

More than 36 varieties of table grapes are grown for export in Chile but Thompson Seedless and Flame Seedless account for the bulk of production.



Producers are forecasting a harvest of about 1.4 million tons – about three quarters of them red apples – for the coming production season (January–December 2015). Higher than usual temperatures in spring are not expected to reduce the quality or volume of the crop.

The USDA said Chilean apple growers have been increasing orchard density and replacing traditional varieties, such as Red Delicious and its variations, with new, more productive varieties, such as Fuji, Gala, Jonathan, Braeburn, Pink Lady and Galaxies.

“As a result we expect that output will expand under normal weather conditions in the coming years,” it said. The US continues to be Chile’s strongest export market for apples.


Fresh pears

The USDA said it was still too early for a good estimate of pear volumes but noted the weather had been “good for fruit fresh fruit in general.” The most recent winter provided enough chill hours for good budding and thus an 8.6% increase on last year’s production is expected for the 2015 marketing season, which would mean about 290,000 tons

Packam’s Triumph and Beurre Bosc comprise more than 60% of Chile’s exports, which are expected to increase by 9% on 2014, in line with the higher output. Nearly half Chile’s pear exports go to the EU, the USDA said.



Read the report.


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Difficult marketing season for Southern Hemisphere apple, pear sectors

Screenshot 2014-11-21 at 15

During the summer season the 28 European countries imported similar quantities apples and 10% less pears compared to last season, or 514.000 tons apples and 236.000 tons pears.

In apple imports there was  major shift in sourcing. Argentina  and South-African volumes were down with 15%, Chile and New Zealand shipped respectively 32% and 11% more.

Argentina exported in 2014 135.000 tons of which 37.000 tons went to the EU, some lower than forecasted due to smaller production and more fruit devoted for processing than expected. Pear exports decreased to 380.000 tons of which 87.000 tons went to the EU, due to smaller production, larger domestic consumption, and more fruit for processing. In addition, there were larger fruit stocks in the Northern Hemisphere. For 2015, forecasts production are at above normal levels as production rebounds following 2014 series of bad weather and to the natural lifecycle of plants, which allows fruit to blossom heavier one season and lighter the following season. 2015 is expected to be the “heavier” season.  A major increase in domestic consumption is expected for the three types of fruit as a result of the increase in production. In addition, higher volumes of apples and pears will be destined for domestic consumption due to the high inflation in dollar terms in Argentina. Exports are forecast to increase following the production rebound.

Apple production in Brazil decreased slightly in 2014 as a result of unfavorable weather conditions and a reduction in planted area. In 2013 Brazil exported 85.000 tons of apples, an 18 percent increase compared to the same period in 2012. Apple producers prioritized exports to recover from 2011. This situation will not happen in 2014, as the adverse weather conditions interfere in the volume and quality of the fruit.

Exports declined by 9 percent. The quality of the fruit has been damaged by the adverse weather conditions and the European markets taking 38.000 tons prefer the top quality fruit, without a damaged appearance.

Chilean exports of apples this year is likely to reach a total of about 770.000 tones, four percent less than last year. Abnormal weather during last spring, heavy frost for two consecutive days in mid-September of 2013, which affected all fresh fruit production in Chile, lowered pear output during this production season. Total production and exports are expected to be down over 10 percent when compared to the previous season. Pear exports reached 267.000 tons, all pear varieties are down in exports by over 10 percent. The only exception is the Packhams Triumph’s variety which expanded by 10 percent. Europe imported 184.000 tons apples and 44.000 tons pears.

New Zealand’s Apple and Pear growers have enjoyed a second year of good prices for their fruit in 2013/2014. Apple exports increased to 310.500 tons, of which 137.000 tons are imported in Europe. Sources indicate that because of strong offshore pricing early on in the shipping season every bit of fruit that could be found of saleable standard has been shipped. Now that prices have plummeted in Europe some growers who have had fruit shipped late into Europe (August to October 2014) may now wish they hadn’t bothered. It may be difficult for prices to maintain their current levels in 2014/2015 if exporters are to ship a forecasted export volume of 327.000 tons which will be five percent greater than 2013/2014 volume. This will be made all the more difficult with the anticipated large harvest of apples in the Northern Hemisphere.

It is likely there will be a resumption of the trend to less reliance on the UK and European markets in 2014/2015 by New Zealand apple exporters. From 2004/2005 to 2011/2012, consistently better returns in Asia have fueled a trend to replace European markets with ones in Asia. Relatively good pricing in Europe over the last 18 months has halted this trend, but those prices have begun to come under pressure in August through September 2014. The slightly later flowering time for the 2014/2015 crop won’t help exporters aiming to get fruit to Asia as early as possible but may give them a few extra weeks’ leeway to get a better supply and demand balance in Europe. The UK market is featured here to contrast a traditional destination for New Zealand apples with the emerging and developing markets of Asia and the Middle East. There is predictable market access for the fruit. It is price driven and takes the traditional varieties: Braeburn, and the traditional Royal Gala variety. Achieving higher prices has revolved around the Jazz and Pink Lady varieties supplanting the traditional varieties.

NZ pear exports in 2013/2014 have been surprisingly strong. Based on year-to-date shipment data, post has revised its export forecast for 2013/2014 to 5.350 tons. This represents a 19% increase compared to our previous forecast.

South African apple exports totals 459.000 tons based on updated Global Trade Atlas (GTA) data. With 117.000 tons the EU, which is the world’s second largest apple importer, is SA`s traditional market with UK being the biggest individual market. South Africa is a counter-seasonal producer, and is the Southern Hemisphere`s most convenient source for EU importers based on its proximity to the EU, and historical trading patterns, compared to other deciduous exporting countries like New Zealand, Chile, Brazil and Argentina. South Africa has been focusing on diversifying its export markets with expected growth to African markets such as Nigeria, Angola, Kenya, Zambia and Cameroon, and to Asia and the Middle East.

Production forecast for the 2014/2015 of the apple crop (1% increase to 910.000 tons), pears (3% increase to 390.000 tons) are good based on normal growing conditions following hail and rainfall damage at the end of December 2013. Post forecasts that the increase in apple, pear production, and the weak Rand/US$ exchange rate, will also result in increases in apple exports (3% increase to 390.000 tons), pears exports (2% to 225.000 tons) in the 2014/15 marketing year.


Click here to see map of EU-28 apple suppliers