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European apple stocks down 43% from 2017

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The frost-blighted 2017 apple season across Europe meant that on April 1st 2018, total apple stocks stood at 1.2 million tons, according to WAPA data. The majority of these stocks were in Italy (327,000 tons), Poland (286,000 tons) and France (248,000 tons). This constituted a 43% drop from inventories on the same date in 2017. In terms of varieties, Golden Delicious was dominant (446,000 tons), followed by Granny Smith (83,000 tons), Idared 82,000 tons, Jonagold (55,000 tons), Fuji (54,000 tons), and Red Delicious (50,000 tons). Production volumes in the Southern Hemisphere were also down this year (-4%). Varieties have been renewed in New Zealand and South Africa to accommodate the tastes of the Asian market, with Braeburns being replaced by Fuji or Pink Lady. Trends in Europe are for two-colour apples in the north and single-colour apples in the south. Beyond Europe, China, too, was hit by two cold snaps at the beginning of April, with damage estimated at 15-30% of the harvest.

As for the 2018 season ahead, a warm April and first half of May has produced abundant flowering in most species and the prospects are good for the campaign. However, there is the likelihood of a shortfall in labour at harvest time, with fewer migrant workers arriving from Eastern Europe to pick fruit.


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Spain still European leader in peach and nectarine production

Spain has widened the gap with other leading European peach producers in all respects. Spanish production has increased acreage while maintaining productivity. It also has relatively lower labour costs than its competitors, making its exports cheaper. Spain has also invested in new varieties to offer consumers the broadest range, from low to premium level.

Spanish peaches and nectarines are ubiquitous on supermarket shelves across Europe. The flat peach is an example of Spanish R & D success, which is set to be exported to China. Despite limited water resources and salinity problems, Spanish production has adapted and succeeded in supplying massive volumes to the various markets.

Although Spanish production is larger overall, Italy remains Europe’s largest producer for the fresh market (1.2 million tons in 2016). However, most of its production is not premium level. Around 80% of Italian production is for the domestic market. Italians are the continent’s largest peach-nectarine consumers, with 17.1 kg/inhabitant consumed in 2016. Italian exports are on the decline, while imports continue to rise (+ 82% since 2012).

France keeps third position despite a decline in production and surfaces area as well as a deterioration in productivity. In 2016, production decreased by 5%, and surfaces by 4%. In spite of this, the French yield (22.03 tos/ha) is the best in Europe. Although high labour costs appear to have negatively affected competitiveness, the sector has adapted by offering mid-to-high-end products and new varieties in order to diversify its offer. It also specialises in organic production (6.4% of total production in 2016, while its neighbours don’t exceed 3.5%.

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Europe’s peach and nectarine production expected to fall by 8% in 2018


Europe’s peach and nectarine output is estimated at 3,670,000 tons for 2018, constituting a fall of 8% from the previous year. The only country with a positive trend was Greece, (+20%). Spanish production fell 11% to just over 1.5 million tons, with the most affected regions being the mid/late areas of Catalonia and Aragon. In these areas peach production is expected to be 15% lower and nectarine -18%. The earliest regions are also affected, but less so. In Murcia, Extremadura and Andalusia, the decline is 7% for peaches and 13% for nectarines.

Estimates published by CSO Italy show a drop of 16% compared to 2017 with the south of the country expecting a fall of over 20%, while output in the north is predicted to be 13% lower. French production is expected to be 10% lower than in 2017 at around 200,000 tons.

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Europe consumes more peaches


Slight decrease in intra-EU stone fruit imports between 2012 and 2013. Nectarines, peaches, plums, apricots and cherries, in that order, added up to a million and a half tons in 2013, in import flows among EU-28 countries. In total, imports for 2013 were 0.2 % lower than last year, but represented a turnover of 1,871,365,564 euros, almost 150 million more than in 2012.
By varieties, peach saw a notable increase, with EU-28 imports in 2013 approaching 4% more, reaching almost 447,000 tons, 17 thousand more than 2012. In turn, nectarine volumes fell by 1,7%, reaching 625 thousand t in 2013, 9 thousand less than in 2012. But if we are talking about negative figures, plum imports were outstanding: 10% fewer intra-EU imports of this fruit in 2013, in other words, 21,500 t less than in 2012. Similarly, apricots underwent a 4% decline in imports among EU countries. Cherries were the exception, as numbers rose by almost 5.5 % in 2013 over the previous year. 
By destinations, a large part of these imports went to Germany, with 444 thousand t in 2013, illustrating an upward trend for 2011-2013, the majority from Spain, with 174,000 t in 2013, as well as 150,000 t from Italy the same year. Among destinations, Portugal and Italy took in 27% more imports in 2013 compared to 2012, which had seen a considerable drop, especially in Italy, and to a lesser extent in Portugal.