Photo: Eurofresh Distribution
The EU’s 2020/21 (June/May) table grape crop is forecast to drop by 11% y-o-y, according to USDA data, mostly due to smaller harvests in main producer Italy (-20%), where severe frosts occurred during flowering at the end of March. Mid-September rains and hailstorms contributed to the decline. Production decreases are also forecast in Bulgaria (-7.1%), and Spain (-4.5%). However, increased quantities are forecast in France (+8.7%), Romania (+3.7%), Portugal (+1.2%), and Greece (+1.1%). Overall fruit quality is forecast to be excellent with higher sugar content due to hot temperatures in July, August, and early September.
France’s 2020 potato crop is up 3.4% from last year, reaching approximately 6.75 million tons, according to data published by the UNPT-CNIPT. The volume is 1.1% above the 5-year average. Acreage has expanded 1.4% to 154,900 ha. Average gross yield is around 43.6 ton/ha, which is better than last year, and slightly above the 5-year average. However, the current pandemic is likely to have a severe impact on the success of the campaign, with demand down in the food service channel.
The EU’s 2020 tomato crop is forecast to drop 7%, as Spanish growers switch to producing more profitable vegetables. Polish tomato production is on the rise, however, following an increase in investments in glasshouse infrastructure. The other member states’ crops should remain relatively stable. As producers switch to smaller-sized varieties, yields are dropping; but this is compensated for by extended harvesting calendars. EU production of tomatoes for processing is projected to rise by 1%.
EU tomato exports are predicted to be down 7% from 2019, and 13% below the 5-year average. Although shipments fell by nearly 20% between January and April 2020, due to logistical problems caused by the pandemic, demand has since picked up. Meanwhile, EU tomato imports continue to rise (+3% on 2019 levels and 11% above the 5-year average). The main source is Morocco (71%), followed by Turkey (13%).
Giuliano has launched Staccato®, a new late cherry that extends the production calendar until the end of July. Meanwhile, its 2020 campaign has got off to an early start. “The 2020 campaign is 10-15 days early. Our calendar begins with the traditional Bigarreaux, the first variety to be harvested in our area, then continues with Giorgia, the jewel of the intermediate phase, followed by the Ferrovia variety, the most appreciated and sold cherry, which takes over for a month of the campaign. Finally, it ends with Sweetheart and Staccato®, the new variety that we have planted in Puglia and for which we have exclusive rights in Italy,” said owner Nicola Giuliano. Each year, Giuliano Puglia Fruit handles about 4,500 tons of cherries, all exclusively of Apulian origin. Thanks to its processing plant, the largest in Europe and equipped with the latest generation UNITEC technologies, the firm is able to guarantee retailers a constant supply of fresh and high-quality products. The fruit is destined largely for Italian supermarkets and abroad, especially in Austria and Germany.
The EU’s 2019/20 grapefruit crop is estimated to be down 11% to 96,000 tons, according to FAS Madrid. The main producer Spain expects its output to shrink by 15.5% to 68,100 tons. Ruby Red is the main grapefruit variety planted in Spain. Cyprus is the second largest grapefruit producer in the EU, with the main variety being White Marsh Seedless, mostly grown in the Limassol area.
The EU is a net importer of grapefruits, with overseas production accounting for about 75% of the EU’s total grapefruit supply. In 2018/19, the EU’s imports dropped 13% to 324,603 tons, valued at US$285 million. China, South Africa, Turkey and Israel are the leading suppliers to the EU market. Imports are predicted to rise in 2019/20 to offset the smaller EU crop.
In 2018/19, EU grapefruit exports fell 7% to 16,255 tons, worth $17 million. The main destinations are Switzerland, Ukraine, and Belarus. Despite an expected smaller EU crop in 2019/20, grapefruit exports are forecast to increase slightly, as indicated by the trend of the first six months of the marketing year.
The world’s pear output in the 2019/20 campaign is projected to rise 12% to 23.0 million as rebounding output in China more than offsets weather-induced losses in the EU, according to data published by the USDA/FAS. The increased supply is expected to boost exports. China’s production is estimated to jump 21% to 17 million tons, indicating a full recovery from last year’s severely weather-ravaged season. Revived supplies are projected to drive exports up nearly 60% to 580,000 tons on elevated shipments in the first half of the marketing year, particularly to Thailand and Malaysia. Imports are predicted to remain stable at 11,000 tons.
EU production is estimated down 15% to 2.2 million due to fruit damage. Brown marmorated stinkbugs impacted production in top grower Italy, while many Member States suffered weather-related losses. Exports are expected to shrink slightly to 295,000 tons as reduced supplies are directed towards overseas markets and fresh consumption, while processing will plunge by over 50% to 250,000 tons.
Russia’s production is forecast to rise slightly to 245,000 tons due to higher-yielding non-commercial or house-hold orchards, which account for over 90% of domestic production. Imports are expected to continue their decline, falling 30% to 190,000 tons, as losses from Belarus and China more than offset improved shipments from Argentina, South Africa, and Turkey. This will make Russia no longer the world’s top pear importer, slipping behind Indonesia.
The world’s largest organic markets, the US and the EU have exhibited dynamic growth over the past couple of years. While the US overtook the EU as the leading global organic food market in 2012, the EU has been showing stronger growth of late. Indeed, over the past 10 years, the organic food market in the EU has nearly doubled. According to the Organic Trade Association, the US recorded sales of US $47.9 billion in 2018, while the EU market was worth an estimated US $45.4 billion, up 18% from the previous year, according to USDA FAS data.
The 2019/20 global citrus crop is down for all categories, except grapefruit. Orange production is down 11% to 47.5 million, due to weather-afflicted seasons in Brazil, the EU, Morocco and Egypt, with small increases in China and the US unable to compensate for these losses. The global mandarin crop is down 1% to 31.7 million tons, with drops in all major production regions, especially Turkey (-9%) except China. The world’s lemon crop is estimated to be down 7% to 7.9 million tons, with Argentina (-11%), the EU (-13%), Turkey (-9%) and the US (16%) all suffering challenging seasons due to weather events. Mexico’s and South Africa’s lemon and lime production are both expected to be up. Lastly, grapefruit was the one citrus category that registered a larger crop in the 2019-20 campaign, with larger harvests in China, South Africa, Turkey and the US more than offsetting the 18% fall in the EU’s crop.
Spanish producers are counting the cost of a deadly weather front that struck last week. Storm Gloria is reported to have wreaked the worst damage on citrus and vegetable production along the country’s eastern coast between Barcelona and Murcia, with losses estimated to run to €46 million.
Winds reaching over 110km per hour left a lot of fruit on the ground. Valencian agricultural association Ava-Asaja reported many farms still being under water days later, raising fears about the prospects for the second half of the campaign if conditions persist. Some flooded fields are expected to see whole crops wiped out. In recently planted potato and onions fields, farmers will be forced to replant. In terms of vegetables, cauliflower, broccoli, artichokes and lettuce are among the worst affected crops.
One benefit of the heavy rains is that the region’s reservoirs have been replenished, easing water restrictions. The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food said in a statement on Wednesday that all production losses from Gloria would be covered by the National Agrarian Insurance Plan. This includes losses to next year’s harvest resulting from damage to farms.
The global apple crop is expected to be at its lowest for eight years, down 9% to 68.7 million tons, according to FAS/USDA data. The slump is mainly due to China’s substantial weather-afflicted campaign, which more than offsets gains in the EU. China’s crop size is forecast to drop 25% to 31 million tons – nine-year low. The smaller output is set to lead to a fall in exports of around a third, to 880,000 tons, while imports are expected to rise 20% to 75,000, with the greatest increase constituted by shipments from New Zealand and the EU, which more than offset lower supplies from the US. Despite the ongoing trade war with China, which has resulted in a 50% retaliatory tariff, the US remains China’s top Northern Hemisphere.
The EU apple crop looks very different from last year’s, and is set to rebound from last year’s weather-damaged campaign. Volumes are up 40% to 14 million tons. The higher supplies have spurred a massive increase in exports to Egypt and India, with total shipments reaching 1.2 million tons. Meanwhile, imports to the EU are projected to drop markedly.