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Hard times for EU apricot sector

Hard times for EU apricot sector

The 2018 apricot campaign in the EU was affected by adverse weather conditions, which reduced the yield. Nevertheless, the crop reached 566,000 tons, which is 6% above the 2013-17 average but 17% smaller than the 2017 crop, which was an exceptional year in terms of production. The losses were not uniform across the continent. France and Italy suffered the greatest losses, while Greece and Spain registered production levels close to of their potential. The strong Spanish production saw large volumes from the outset of the campaign in May.

The last three years have been difficult for apricot producers, with low demand and prices. The cold and wet spring in France was not favourable to summer fruit consumption, resulting in lower demand. Italian and French production arrived on a sluggish market that was already well stocked with Spanish fruit, leading to falling prices. It was only at the end of June, when Spanish production began to decline and weather conditions improved that the market took off, although prices remained rather disappointing.


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Frutaito opens new warehouse

Frutaito brings together the efforts of 25 stone fruit farming families from the town of Aitona (Lleida). Saturn peaches, nectarines and peaches are some of their main reference items. This year, apricots are to be added to the range.

Frutaito brings together the efforts of 25 stone fruit farming families from the town of Aitona (Lleida). Saturn peaches, nectarines and peaches are some of their main reference items. This year, apricots are to be added to the range.

“We’re seeing sustained growth. Whereas 8 years ago we produced 8 million kilos, this year we plan to reach 12 million,” said Frutaito CEO Xavier Blanco, who also announced the launch in 2016 of a new warehouse for handling and storage of this significant increase in volume.

Many international markets take up the excellent supply from Frutaito, whose fruits are exported under the auspices of trading company Ruser Sport, S.L. in Germany, Italy, Poland, the UK, France and the UAE.

Now that the Chinese market is opening up for Spain, Catalan fruit producers are also setting their sights on the Asian giant. Frutaito already has all the necessary protocols to start exporting to China, Blanco said. “We are in good conditions to cross the Chinese border with our fruit, but let’s see what happens on the logistics side.”

“Although the journey only takes one day by air, this route is still very expensive. By sea might be more economical, but it’s a long voyage that can last around 30 days,” he said.

The challenge facing Frutaito, along with other Spanish exporters, is how to make exporting to China feasible with the technology currently available and ensure that the varieties they have can properly withstand this long journey.



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IPS Plant: red Rubyngo® apricots & promising low-chilling varieties

Rubyngo® is the big news for this season, with very aromatic, 100% bright red apricots.

“Rubyngo®” also has great agronomic potential and is fully self-fertile. Furthermore, Alexandre Darnaud said the good development of the range of late Stargrow and Carmingo apricots in South Africa, in collaboration with 4 grower and marketing companies: Fruit Unlimited, Stargrow Marketing, Delecta and Stem. “For the second year we have successfully exported Carmingo apricots by ship from South Africa with excellent results, particularly the Faralia and Farley varieties. Produced in January and February, they are sold in Europe in February and March, after 3 weeks of transport and 1 week at the point of sale.

IPS also said the success of the varieties of red and black plums obtained by Stargrow, with IPS the licensee for the whole of Europe and North Africa. IPS is introducing a new range of varieties with 3 colours from the period of “Early Queen” to Angeleno. “We are also introducing new low-chilling varieties of Stargrow peaches and nectarines that are very promising and adapted to the area of Murcia,” Darnaud reports. Meanwhile, in the Honey Zee IPS range, the expansion is continuing in the earliest and latest range of nectarines.

Pluots and almonds: new opportunities

In addition, IPS said the launch of the company Zeeco in conjunction with Royal to develop the variety of the Pluot@, a new concept of fruit between the plum and apricot. With their headquarters in Seville, Zeeco plans to promote the cultivation of Pluot@ throughout Europe and the Mediterranean basin. IPS-PLANT is also developing sales of varieties of almonds, obtained by Zaiger for Europe. Independencia is the recently planted variety in the Iberian Peninsula. Originally from California, it is self-fertile and high in productivity. It has a soft shell, which implies a different manufacturing process. It is also early flowering, with the same cycle as the Non Pareille. 

This article first appeared in edition 143 (May/June 2016) of Eurofresh Distribution magazine. Read more from that issue here:

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Maya Cot is a growing success in the Murcia region

Tried and tested for over five years now, the Maya Cot is enjoying increasing success among growers in Murcia and other early regions.

This low chill apricot, which only requires around 250 chilling hours, offers great quality for a very early variety, including its beautiful presentation (pinkish orange), harvesting from 7 April (with pre-flowering treatment) or 25 April (without treatment) and a skin that resists periods of heavy rain without the fruit cracking.

“Maya Cot is also recognised in France and Spain as one of the best in the early slot because of its good eating quality, with a sugar content of 12° Brix,” said Marie-Laure Etève-Lambertin.

In France, Lady Cot is still the most-planted COT variety for the main or even medium-late season (harvesting in Bergeron from the end of June), with yields of up to 40 tons/ha.

Cot International has also launched its first 100% deep red variety, Rouge Cot, which has been being planted since last winter. Harvested in mid-June and self-fertile, it has orange flesh, a very even colour, even for fruit picked from the middle of the tree, and a good uniform size (between 2A and 3A).

Varieties for long distance exports

Cot International has also begun to respond to demand in the ‘long-life’ segment, as Lady Cot, Sunny Cot and Rouge Cot have all shown they have a long storage life (over three weeks), so are suitable for imports by sea from the southern hemisphere and for exporting overseas. Cot International offers over 17 apricot varieties, covering all the market segments. Its new offerings come from its own hybridisation programmes.

Wonder Cot, Magic Cot and Lady Cot are the most planted varieties. Cot International is developing a worldwide network of partners to represent its cultivars.

“Our varieties are planted in most European countries, like Germany, Hungary, England, Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey, our major market shares are in Italy, Spain and France,” said Etève-Lambertin.

The French company also represents American breeders of plum and cherry varieties in Europe and the Mediterranean countries. Grenadine, its purple Japanese-American plum variety, is attracting more and more interest in the South West of France, in Italy and in Morocco.

Image source:

This article first appeared in edition 143 (May/June 2016) of Eurofresh Distribution magazine. Read more from that issue here:

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Decline in stone fruit sales in US

Retail sales of fresh stone fruit in the United States have slumped 5.6% in value year-on-year, bringing the total spend in this category down $51.8 million to a total of $868.4 million for the 52 weeks to January 30.

Retail sales of fresh stone fruit in the United States have slumped 5.6% in value year-on-year, bringing the total spend in this category down $51.8 million to a total of $868.4 million for the 52 weeks to January 30.

Nielsen data also shows that the number of fruits sold has fallen 1.8% – or by 8.7 million – to a total of 471.4 million.

Peaches, which alone generate nearly half the total spend on stone fruit in the US, also largely accounted for the lion’s share of lower sales in the category.

Consumer expenditure on peaches was 7.8% lower yoy, wiping $31.5 million off the amount spent on peaches in the 52 weeks to January 31 last year.

The total peach volume sold at retail was also down, by 3.6%, to 243.6 million, a decline of 9.2 million.

Despite slight upticks in the number of nectarines and plums sold, by 0.8% and 2.1% respectively, the spend on them dwindled by 3.6% and 0.5%. And rounding off the category are apricots, which were the worst performers in terms of the percentage drop in yoy sales, though it should be remembered they account for only about 1.5% of the stone fruit volume sold. Retail sales of this fruit plummeted about 25% in value, to $19.8 million, and 26% in volume, to 6.7 million.

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PDO for France’s ‘Abricots rouges du Roussillon’ apricots

The geographic area for apricots under the ‘Abricots rouges du Roussillon’ PDO is located in the department of Pyrénées-Orientales, the southernmost region of mainland France.

France’s red-speckled apricots – ‘Abricots rouges du Roussillon’ – now have their own Protected Designation of Origin (PDO).

The new PDO was registered by the European Commission on February 16.

According to the PDO application filed last April, the defined geographic area for apricots under the ‘Abricots rouges du Roussillon’ PDO is located in the department of Pyrénées-Orientales, the southernmost region of mainland France.

This part of France is described as like the arena of a vast amphitheatre facing east towards the Mediterranean sea and drawn up by the Corbières to the North, the foothills of the Canigou Massif to the west and the Albera Massif to the south. The Roussillon climate is strongly affected by its proximity to the sea in the east and by the mountains surrounding the entire geographic area, the application says. Apricot trees were introduced by the Arabs and have existed in the geographic area for more than 10 centuries.

‘Abricots rouges du Roussillon’ are distinguished by:

  • an apricot coloured skin with (characteristic) vivid red speckles. They are distinct from ‘two-tone’ apricots where the orange and red colours are mixed together, with no distinct colour boundaries;
  • a small to average size, with a diameter of 35-55 mm. They have a soft texture and sweet taste. Their sugar level is over 12° Brix. They are juicy, melt in the mouth, quite soft and with low acidity which gives an impression of sweetness, and smell strongly of fresh fruit (peach/nectarine) and apricot juice.

More information here:

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UK’s second commercial apricot crop to be a bumper

Nigel_Bardsley_in_orchard_July_2015 - Edited

England’s second apricot crop is is set to be six times that of last year, thanks to near perfect growing conditions.

According to Tesco, early estimates are that English growers will produce about 200 tons – up from the 30 grown in England last year when the first English apricot crop became available.

In a press release, the the UK retailer said the first English apricots of the season went on sale on Monday and growers are reporting great quality fruit.

It also reported that last year British shoppers bought 33% more apricots than the previous year, according to Kantar data.

Tesco said careful breeding has made it possible to now grow apricots on a commercial basis in the UK, something which until a few years ago was very hard to do because of the climate.

Tesco’s English apricots are produced by one of the UK’s largest stone fruit growers, Nigel Bardsley, whose farm is based near Staplehurst, in Kent. He has 5,000 orange fleshed, French type apricot trees across 8 ha and produced his first commercial quantities – about 15 tons – last year. This year he anticipates up to 120 tons.

“We’ve had near perfect growing conditions so far this year with a cold winter to help let the trees rest; a mild spring to allow for good pollination and a warm, dry summer so far to boost growth. This combined with a unique large day/night temperature differentiation, has led to fantastic red blushed and incredibly sweet apricots,” Bardsley said.

source: Tesco

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Back to normal for European peach sector


The return to normal flowering dates in 2015 promises better prospects for this season even though the volume estimates are identical to those of 2014

Peaches and nectarines (new figures)


2014 crop (tons)

2015 forecast













European peach sector operators say they are more optimistic about the 2015 season. 2014 was a record year for quantities but a disaster in terms of price, leaving all the growers a bitter taste in the mouth. The earliness of the crops meant that growing areas overlapped. The record quantities available from the end of April (a total of 1,320,301 tons for the year) and the gloomy weather brought prices tumbling down. All types of peaches suffered the same problems and the Russian embargo only served to exacerbate the imbalance. All in all, 2014 was catastrophic for peaches. Nevertheless, all the crop found a market.

Spain overtakes Italy

For the first time, Spain should overtake Italy in volume terms. The slight reduction (about 5%) in the Italian surface area, particularly in the North, explains the expected decrease in this country’s crop. In Greece, some early varieties have been damaged by heavy rain and frosts. Even so, because of the new plantings, the harvest should be similar or even larger in clingstone peaches, which account for half the Greek surface area. In France, a succession of crises and the plum pox virus (sharka virus) have led to grubbing up a certain number of orchards. Working together with the PDO peach and nectarine distributors should showcase French peaches, though the crop lags a long way behind the country’s consumption.

European apricot crops


2014 crop (tons)

2015 forecast













The 2015 European apricot forecasts are close to the final figures for 2014. The slight reduction is due to unfavourable weather conditions for certain varieties.

Last year was a generous one for the European Mediterranean countries’ apricot crops, which totalled 529,335 tonnes. They sold quite easily despite noticeable competition from peaches owing to the latter’s abundance and low prices. New apricot orchard planting continues in the north of Italy, with new, later varieties, in Spain at the expense of pip fruit, in the Roussillon in France and in certain new areas in Greece. Even so, the 2015 crop is expected to be slightly lower than in 2014, with 528,340 tonnes forecast.

Fruit set is very variable depending on the region and variety. In Italy, the varieties that are not self-fertile, largely found in the North, will be yielding less this year. There will be a lack of French Orangereds owing to alternate bearing, but other varieties should make up the shortfall.  Larger sizes could compensate for the smaller numbers. Abundant rain or periods of cold have caused 80% flower drop in Macedonia, where the crop is estimated at 8000 tons this year compared to 26,000 tonnes last year. The rainy spring of 2015 will delay the harvest compared to 2014, bringing a return to a normal calendar. The lack of cold during the winter could still have knock-on effects on the behaviour of certain varieties.

Italy, the biggest producer, which grows 40% of Europe’s apricots, will not reach its full crop potential as it did in 2014. France is moving in the direction of a normal year and the challenge will be for the regions to help the market by not clashing with each other. The quality seems to be up to the mark in Spain, where the plentiful rain has encouraged growth. The crop should be slightly bigger than in 2014. In Greece, the cold weather in Macedonia could affect the shape of the fruit.


image: By Cary Bass (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons