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EU orange crop falls as prices rise

EU orange crop falls as prices rise

The 2019/20 EU orange crop is predicted to fall 9% from 2018/19 to 6.2 million tons, according to FAS data. The drop is the result of the heavy rains that hit Spain’s main growing regions of Valencia and Andalusia during the spring and autumn. In line with the reduced output, EU orange juice production is estimated to be down 21%  to 83,724 tons. Meanwhile, the EU tangerine production is expected to be down 14% to 2.7 million tons, following a 23.8% predicted slump in the Spanish crop. Since 2010, the EU’s total orange and tangerine planted areas have contracted by nearly 13% 8% respectively,  as citrus producers focus on yield and quality.

Spain and Italy account for 80% of the EU’s total orange output. Spain’s crop is predicted to shrink by 15.2% to 3.3 million tons. During the first 16 weeks of 2020, the average Spanish orange price reached €0.73/kg compared to €0.63/kg during the same period last year. The average price paid to orange farmers peaked at €0.31/kg due to the shortage in supplies and strong domestic and export demand triggered by the lockdown. Over the last decade,  Spain’s planted area has contracted by 9% to 139,132 ha, but is still the largest in the EU.  

Italy is the second largest European orange producer, with Sicily and Calabria the main production areas, accounting for approximately 63% and 19% of total production, respectively. The country’s 2019/20 crop is projected to remain stable compared to the previous season. The main varieties grown are Tarocco, Moro, Sanguinello, Naveline, and Valencia, while Ippolito and Meli are gaining popularity. 

 

Photo: CVVP

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Chinese apple exports rebound as EU struggles

Chinese apple exports rebound as EU struggles

The 2019/20 global apple crop is projected to be up 7% to 75.8 million tons, as China rebounds from last year’s frost-hit campaign, more than offsetting plummeting production in the EU, according to USDA/FAS data. Despite higher supplies, exports are estimated to be lower due to reduced shipments from the EU, Moldova, and Turkey. China’s production is expected to jump 24% to a near-record level of 41.0 million tons.

Despite disruptions due to COVID-19, China’s apple exports are expected to surpass 1.0 million tons, returning the country to the position of the world’s top exporter. Higher supplies prompted greater shipments in the first half of the marketing year, especially to Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Thailand. Despite higher supplies, imports are also up 24% to 115,000 tons, due to the lower volumes of high-quality domestic apples.

EU apple production is predicted to fall by almost a quarter to 11.5 million tons due to adverse weather conditions in most Member States, especially Poland. This constitutes the second severe loss in three years. Lower supplies will reduce exports to 1.0 million, while imports are also estimated lower at 470,000 tons due to smaller shipments from Southern Hemisphere suppliers.

 

Source: USDA/FAS

 

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Global grape output climbs 4% despite EU losses

Global grape output climbs 4% despite EU losses

The global 2019/20 grape crop is projected to grow 4% to 23.4 million tons, thanks to rebounding China supplies, according to USDA/FAS data. However, exports are expected to shrink slightly as lower shipments from India and the US more than offset gains from China and Mexico. China’s output is predicted to climb 9% to 10.8 million tons, as vineyards recover from last year’s severe frost. Rebounding supplies are expected to drive exports to a record 360,000 tons, as higher shipments to the Philippines, Bangladesh, and Vietnam facilitate China’s continuing upward trend. Imports are estimated to drop 7% to 235,000 tons on reduced shipments from top suppliers Chile, Peru, and the US. Small shipments from the EU have started to arrive following the recent market access for Spanish and Portuguese grapes. Nevertheless, the US remains China’s top Northern Hemisphere supplier.

EU production is expected to drop 14% to 1.4 million tons due to damaging rains during flowering in Italy. Exports are expected to remain flat at 75,000 tons. Despite lower supplies, imports are estimated to shrink slightly to 675,000 tons as reduced shipments from India, Peru, and Brazil more than offset gains from Egypt and Turkey. Reduced output is anticipated to drive consumption to its lowest level since 2001/02.

 

Source: USDA/FAS

 

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Cambodia’s vegetable exporters ready to seize opportune moment 

Cambodia’s vegetable exporters ready to seize opportune moment 

While many South-East Asian countries are currently banned from exporting vegetables to the EU, Cambodia has the opportunity to make the most of this time. This is the strategy outlined by the country’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries senior official Ngin Chhay, speaking to a press conference last Wednesday. Cambodia are in an advantageous position as Vietnam and Thailand currently have “red cards” issued against them by the EU which temporarily block their vegetable exports to the region.

Cambodia also received a “yellow card” six years ago as a warning that its vegetables did not comply with the EU’s sanitation and phytosanitary standards. But this “yellow card” has now been rescinded. “It took me six years to work out a fix to the ‘yellow card’ issue and it was pulled out two months ago. I would like to see a thumbs-up from foreign markets for our products now that we are famous and our vegetables are known to be all-organic and produced naturally,” said Chhay.

Meanwhile, the ministry continues to promote vegetable farming in line with Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) guidelines. It also encourages farmers to build net houses and illustrates proper fertiliser use.

 

 

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COVID-19: MEPs demand better aid for EU fruit and vegetable growers  

COVID-19: MEPs demand better aid for EU fruit and vegetable growers  

 

The EU’s Agriculture Committee has endorsed a set of exceptional market measures to help the EU wine, fruit and vegetable producers but rejected another one for not being good enough. To ensure that the wine, fruit and vegetable sectors get further support as quickly as possible, the Agriculture Committee decided to proactively greenlight the delegated regulation tabled by the EU Commission on 4 May, instead of waiting for the two-month objection period to pass. The measures provide for additional flexibility to farmers and producer organisations when it comes to making changes in operational programmes or extending support linked to green harvesting and mutual funds.

Call for further measures to help the sectors

But MEPs also launched a procedure that could lead to the rejection of another delegated regulation the Commission adopted on 30 April. They voted by 36 votes in favour to 11 against, with one abstentions, to recommend that Parliament vetoes an older set of market measures for wine, fruit and vegetable producers, which are already in place, for not going far enough .

MEPs want the Commission to improve the original aid package with additional targeted measures. These should include increasing co-financing rates, extending the list of eligible measures and expenses under the fruit and vegetables operational programmes, allowing carry-over of unused funds from these programmes to the next year and providing additional regulatory flexibilities within and beyond the national wine support programmes.

The committee also extended the deadline for a potential veto by Parliament to give the Commission more time to improve the proposed measures. The new deadline for rejecting the delegated act has been set for 31 August.

“The Commission’s support measures for the wine, fruit and vegetable growers are by far not enough and we have repeatedly asked Commissioner Wojciechowski to improve them. This has not happened so far and therefore we have endorsed today only some of these measures and we have put our green light for the other ones on hold. We have also extended the deadline for our potential veto to give Mr Wojciechowski more time. We urge the Commission not to waste it,” said Agriculture Committee Chair, Norbert Lins (EPP, DE).

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Orange prices remain high amidst strong demand for fruit and juice

Reduction in European orange farming

The current Coronavirus pandemic appears to have had a relatively small impact on the EU’s 2019/20 harvest, coming as it did at the end of the campaign. The total crop is projected to reach 6.2 million tons this season, according to data released by the EU Commission. This volume represents a 5% drop from the previous campaign, due to smaller yields. In recent weeks, demand has risen across the world for both oranges and orange juice as consumers look for sources of vitamin C to remain healthy. The sharp increase in retail sales have more than offset the drop in the foodservice channel. The increased demand has driven prices up both globally and in the EU.

Global logistics problems, particularly with shipments to China, meant that EU fresh orange exports were markedly down in March 2020 (-13% y-o-y). The increased local demand is also likely to have a dampening effect on exports.  Imports to the EU during the 2019/20 campaign until the end of March were down 20% from the previous season, although recent months have seen the gap between the two campaigns close somewhat.

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Accusations of misuse of EU funds for “organic” farming in Croatia

Croatia's Chamber of Agriculture

Croatia’s Chamber of Agriculture has claimed that the country’s farmers owe huge amounts to the EU due to the misuse of funding set aside for organic agriculture. Total Croatia News reports that the Agricultural Ministry later denied all allegations, while admitting some “irregularities” existed in EU-back funding for organic farming which were quickly weeded out.

The accusations first surfaced when Chamber of Agriculture Vice President, Antun Vrankić, bemoaned the poor state of eastern Croatia’s farming sector. An EU inspection found that only 2% of the incentives paid for organic farming was justified, with 98% being false, amounting to €400 million, which the EU is now demanding be returned. Farmers are being asked to share the cost equally as an act of solidarity.

In response, Agriculture Minister, Marija Vucković, called the accusations “untested and completely inaccurate” in a lengthy statement pushing back against Vrankić’s claims. 

Vrakić is concerned about Croatia’s ability to feed itself at this critical time, with self-sufficiency falling below 40%.

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EU apricot crop plummets in 2020

EU apricot crop plummets in 2020
Source: Fotolia

 

The volume of the EU’s 2020 apricot crop is set to drop by 37% as a result of heavy weather damage, including insufficient chilling hours during the winter, frosts and hail. The European Assembly of Fruit and Vegetable Producing Regions (AREFLH) forecast a crop of 401,883 tons, which is 28% lower than the average of recent years. The report said: “To find another campaign with a similar level of production, you have to go back to 2003 and 1998 with 390,000 tons and 365,000 tons respectively.” 

The EU’s leading producer, Italy, expects a huge 56% drop in its crop volume to 136,101 tons. In the country’s worst-affected region, Emilia Romagna, the volume is predicted to fall by as much as 90%. Spain’s apricot harvest is projected to be down 15% to 93,740 tons, while French production is set to fall 29% to 93,542 tons, and Greek output is likely to be down 13% to 78,500 tons, despite the increase in planted area.

The situation is compounded by disruptions to harvesting and labour logistics due to the current pandemic. The quality of the crop is expected to be good, with brix levels projected to rise in the coming weeks.

This bad news comes on the back of a 2019 apricot campaign which saw weak demand and poor prices in northern Europe.

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“Designed to Help”, Smurfit Kappa’s new range of solutions to tackle the Covid-19

"Designed to Help", Smurfit Kappa's new range of solutions to tackle the Covid-19

 

Smurfit Kappa has launched a new portfolio of products made of corrugated cardboard called “Designed to help”, with the aim of tackling some of the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic. These include dividers for work areas and health centres, beds for temporary hospitals and isolation spaces, or temporary furniture, including shelves and tables.

This range has been developed by the company’s team of designers. The first products to see the light were separators, which were developed at the Smurfit Kappa plant in Pamplona. Their function is to enable people working side-by-side to maintain a safe distance. Their simplicity and efficiency make them ideal for use in many other places and work areas, including the designated emergency area within the Hospital Complex of Navarra, where they are used to separate patient beds for hygiene and privacy. 

Arco Berkenbosch, vice president of Innovation and Development at Smurfit Kappa, said, “We are all seeing reports in the media about the shortage of products and the need to respond quickly to deal with the pandemic. So I am very proud of our designers, who quickly took on the challenge of creating a set of simple, yet effective products, which are clear proof that corrugated is the best single-use material. The designs are freely available to all and we will continue to add other solutions to our ‘Designed to Help’ product portfolio in the coming weeks.”

Recent studies have shown that the virus that causes Covid-19 has a shorter life on corrugated cardboard than on other materials such as steel or plastic. For this reason, the cardboard and paper sector has been included in the list of essential services in government recommendations related to business closings.

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Spanish government calls on EU to defend agricultural sector

Spanish government calls on EU to defend agricultural sector

 

The Spanish government has confirmed its commitment to defending its farmers and called on the EU to do likewise. The country’s Minister of Agriculture Luis Planas met virtually with the professional organisations Upa, Coag and Asaja to discuss a plan to protect the country’s vital agricultural sector. The move follows a complaint by the provincial secretary of Coag, Andrés Gongora, regarding the sale of Senegal watermelons in supermarkets where local fruits are also available.

Coag secretary general Miguel Blanco said that Planas promised to facilitate seasonal work to complete agricultural campaigns and requesting market measures from the European Commission to support the agricultural sectors affected by the Coronavirus. In addition, the minister will call for the reactivation of an observatory to combat price speculation and a strengthened budget for the CAP that supports the essential and strategic agricultural sector.

The associations define the initiatives taken thus far by the EU’s agriculture commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski to extend the deadline for requests for CAP assistance as “totally insufficient”.