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The EU’s fresh lemon imports rose 5% last year

While EU lemon trade with Russia suffered an important decline due to the Russian ban, recently, EU-28 citrus exports to new strategic markets such as North America and Asia are increasing to compensate the loss of the Russian market.

Lemon and lime imports into the EU – a net importer of lemons – reached 399,040 tons in the 2014/15 marketing year (November-October), a 5% rise on the previous year.

Argentina is by far the main source of these imports, alone accounting for a third of the total volume, says the USDA Gain report ‘EU-28 Citrus Semi-annual’.

After Argentina, the top suppliers to the European market are Turkey, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa.

However, the report highlights that intra-EU trade is critical to the sector, taking into account the volume of lemons produced in the Mediterranean EU states and the demand in EU States which are not lemon producers.

EU lemon exports

The EU exported 105,617 tons of fresh lemons and limes in 2014/15 – 5% more than the year before – with Switzerland (18%) and Belarus (16.5%) the main extra-EU destinations.

During the same marketing year, EU lemon exports to Russia suffered an important decline – 92% – due to the Russian ban. However, EU citrus exports to new strategic markets, such as North America, North Africa and Asia, have been increasing significantly recently, helping offset the loss of the Russian market.

The EU’s main lemon producer, Spain, exported 673,921 tons in 2014/15, of which 90% went to other EU countries.

Fresh lemon production in the EU

Figures for EU fresh lemon production have been revised down 1.9% from previous estimations and the EU lemon crop is now expected to reach 1.26 million tons in 2015/16, down 21% on the previous year due to a drop in Spanish lemon production.

The decline in Spain’s lemon production follows unfavorable weather in spring 2015, namely warm temperatures and lack of rain which affected the flowering and fruit set. Spain’s lemon crop is therefore expected to come in at about 744,800 tons, down 31.6% on the previous year but returning to more normal production parameters and with good quality. There will be a big reduction in the volume of lemons available for Spain’s processing industry.

Little change on last year is expected for the volume from the EU’s number two fresh lemon producer, Italy, whose crop is expected to total about 430,000 tons, but with better quality. “Moreover, no insect problems and the abundant rainfall made the lemons even juicier,” the report says.

The 2015/16 lemon production of the EU’s 3rd biggest grower, Greece, is expected to be up 7.7% on the previous year, while that of Portugal, which comes next, is projected at the same level as last year, with normal calibers and quality.

Most common lemon varieties in the EU

Fino is the dominant lemon variety in Spain, representing 70% of total production and favoured by processors. Verna, a tender and juicy variety with few seeds, currently represents the remaining 30% but because it offers higher profitability and less competition with Turkey, there is interest in replacing Fino with Verna so that the latter, at least in the short term, accounts for 40% of total production.

Femminello Commune (F. Zagara Bianca, F.Siracusano, F. S.Teresa), Monachello, and Interdonato are the main lemon varieties grown in Italy, while in Greece the main lemon variety is Maglini, which produces strongly aromatic fruit, with a quite sour juice, but the early variety Interdonato, and the varieties Verna and Eureka are also grown there.

Source: USDA Gain report SP1611 ‘EU-28 Citrus Semi-annual’, 6/15/2016
Lemon image: By André Karwath aka Aka – Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5,

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Insights into food retailing in Japan

What exporters need to know about the Japanese retail food industry.

About 23% of household spending in Japan is on food. It’s a country where tastes and preferences are heavily influenced by cultural, societal and environmental drivers. Japanese culture, for instance, places strong emphasis on the four seasons, which is reflected in changes in purchase habits and gift-giving patterns over the year.

According to a USDA Gain report, Japan is also a nation that prefers convenience, quality, and single-serving sizes. More than 3 million people commute via a combination of train and walking into Tokyo every day and highly value convenience and accessibility.

Key target markets in Japan: seniors and young people

Japan’s population is aging faster than any in the world and its Generation M is the fastest growing senior population (over 65) in the world. The roughly 35 million citizens in this generation are expanding the influence of the silver demographic, estimated to now represent about 27% of the Japanese population but set to reach 36% by 2040.

The retail response has come in the form of delivery services, mobile operations, expanded internet shopping, smart phone market integration, promotions, and products developed with Generation M in mind. Because many elderly can not drive or go far to buy groceries, many get their daily meals from a local convenience store.

With such a large senior market, Japan’s youth segment is often overlooked though their consumption spending has increased. Young adults who live alone or with roommates do not cook and almost exclusively eat out. “Due to a busy lifestyle, these young people want to avoid the hassle of cooking at home. The rise of the working, single-person households is correlated to the rise in sales of ready-made, frozen, take-out, delivery, and restaurant-prepared meals,” the report says.

Recent food trends in Japan

Major trends of relevance in Japan include burgeoning demand for private brands, healthy and functional foods, and for time-saving foods (e.g. frozen foods).

There has been strong growth in the area of prepared foods, particularly home meal replacements (HMR), in the past few years, with offerings increasing in every retail area and a 13% rise in HMR consumption.

Frozen foods have a large presence in the HMR market. In response to an ever-increasing desire for convenience and value-priced food, sales of frozen food in Japan have been rising at about 3.3% annually. Frozen vegetable imports increased to a total of 142 billion yen in 2013.

Changes in Japan’s retail food sales

According to the report, the Japanese retail food industry experienced growth in all of the three major categories in 2014: large scale and conventional supermarkets, department stores, and convenience stores. Total retail sales including food, beverages, general merchandise, fabrics, apparel and accessories amounted to 69,911 billion yen in 2014, with food and beverages – which accounted for 65% of the total  – seeing a significant increase.

Total Retail Sales (Billion JPY)

How large-scale and conventional supermarkets are evolving

The report says Japan’s supermarket business is considered saturated for standard large-scale and conventional supermarkets. So as to better compete with convenience stores, many major supermarket chains are investing in city-style stores (smaller versions of supermarkets located in city centres) which allow easier access and “have been a hit with the elderly population, mothers, and value-conscious customers.”

As the Japanese market continues to mature, the two national brands AEON and Seven and I Holdings have strived to appeal to the aging population. In 2014, the Japanese retail group AEON announced it would triple the number of its “Akore” city-style stores in Tokyo, Saitama, and Chiba from 90 to 250 by 2016.

And in October 2014, AEON’s private brand TopValu expanded to include organic products. “AEON has recently taken to promoting healthy food and local community activities in order to appeal to the rapidly evolving mature and health-conscious market,” the report says.

Convenience stores thriving

Despite the growth of online shopping and a tax hike of 2014, convenience stores continue to be a major retail competitor.

They have continued to increase their market share thanks to their numerous locations and wide variety of products, with a major contributing factor to their success being their proximity to consumers’ homes. Some also offer home delivery, such as Seven-Eleven’s Seven Meal bento delivery service.

Department stores reinventing themselves

Department stores have had to employ new techniques and strategies to stay on top. For example, in December 2014, Matsuya president Masaki Akita announced stores would be hiring more foreign language speakers in order to draw in visitors from abroad. Tourists make up a large percentage of department store customers.

While department stores have seen a significant drop in profits from non-food products in the last decade, those from food products have actually risen due to their premium nature and the popularity of depachika, the ‘wonderlands of food’ found on the basement floors of department stores.

The report says department stores usually carry imported, branded food products though typically in small quantities. “Many of the items are packaged as take-out products due to the proximity to train stations and the premium nature of the products means they are often used as gifts.”

Online shopping a hit with seniors

E-commerce and m-commerce are both expected to grow in the coming years with same-day delivery services and social media awareness. Seniors are some of the most active online shoppers.

Online sales are still relatively small yet have been growing at double digit rates, dwarfing the growth of Japan’s retail market overall. While the majority of sales are for non-food items, food and beverages account for 13.7% of e-commerce sales and are increasingly bought online.

Online shopping remains a lucrative market for grocery stores with some offering home delivery for little to no charge, an option popular with seniors.

“Many major supermarkets now offer online grocery services in most parts of Japan, including rural areas. The most successful has been Ito-Yokado, whose sales grew 14.3% in 2012 with the introduction of online groceries.”

The might of mobile-driven commerce  

Many online vendors are offering m-commerce as a way to connect with mobile users, often by offering mobile-friendly versions of their site, phone apps, and special downloads for customers on-the-go.

“Rakuten is a big name in m-commerce, receiving as much as 52.2% of its total value of transactions via mobile devices in the fourth quarter of 2013, while PC driven sales fell by 8%. It is worth mentioning that food and beverage sales make up 49.2% of Rakuten’s total sales. Popular items include heavy, bulky items that are hard to transport and fresh produce.”

Food procurement by Japanese retailers

The report says that when it comes to sourcing food, Japan’s large-scale supermarkets still rely primarily on importers and wholesalers. Most are engaged to some degree in developing and maintaining private labels which they tend to outsource to food processors.

The giant, nationwide supermarket chains such as Aeon and Ito-Yokado purchase their food primarily through three channels: directly from importers, directly from manufacturers and processors, or via wholesalers and distributors. Wholesalers and big trading houses are generally interested in handling high volume products, not niche-oriented ones, it advises.

Conventional supermarkets purchase through similar distribution channels, although they mainly purchase from wholesalers, whereas the major national chains rely on more direct routes. Department stores, meanwhile, procure food items almost entirely through wholesalers and tenant merchants (who mainly purchase the ingredients for their products from wholesalers and then manufacture the products to be sold).

Convenience store chains use trading companies or wholesalers, depending on the type of product. Their management systems present the most significant challenges for imported packaged processed foods, the report says, because they require exporters to modify product taste/specifications to Japanese tastes, cut delivery times to ensure freshness, and update and introduce new products frequently.

Food exports to Japan

Japan’s food self-sufficiency rate has been declining due to the aging farm population and is only 39%, meaning there are obvious opportunities for suppliers from other countries.

It also helps that since the Fukushima nuclear reactor incident cast doubt over the safety of some domestic produce, Japanese consumers have been more open to imported food.

As can be seen in the pie chart above, the US enjoys a commanding lead among countries exporting food to Japan, helped by Japanese consumers’ preference for US goods, the report says.

Read the full USDA GAIN report: Japan Retail Foods

Main image: “Depa-Chika” at Lotte Department Store by ayustety –, CC BY-SA 2.0

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NZ kiwi exports set to soar from 2017

In the next 4-5 years, NZ kiwi export volumes are poised to jump up about 20% to reach levels up to 550,000 tons per annum.

Last year was a bumper one for the New Zealand kiwifruit industry with production up 30% to 475,000 tons, exports up 31% to 454,000 tons, and FOB export receipts up 43% to NZ $1.44 billion yoy, reports the USDA.

This year is forecast to be one of consolidation with production and exports up just 1.5% to 482,400 and 460,400 tons respectively.

But over the next 4-5 years, export volumes are likely to resume a faster growth rate, expanding by an estimated additional 20% to reach levels of around 540,000 to 550,000 tons per annum, according to the USDA’s Kiwifruit Sector Report for 2016.

Rise of the Gold kiwifruit variety “G3”

The impressive 31% increase in exports last year over exports in 2014 “is testament to how quickly growers have been able to get the new Gold G3 variety up to mature yields and the superb growing season in 2014/15, which maximised yields in the orchards,” the report says.

And while this year little growth is expected in overall kiwi exports, the variety mix exported will change considerably with Gold kiwifruit volumes up by an estimated 30% and comprising 36% of the total volume of kiwifruit exported from New Zealand.

Export markets

Zespri Gold sells at a premium to virtually all other kiwifruit. The northern E.U. takes the biggest volume of NZ kiwi exports but at a significantly lower FOB price per ton (44% less) than Japan. This is not just due to higher prices for all kiwifruit in Japan, but reflects that Gold kiwifruit comprise 36% of all kiwifruit sold in Japan and just 17% in Northern E.U.

The report says a core strategy for Zespri in order to maintain current price/demand relationships in its more mature markets, amid the increased supply expected in the next four years, is to invest strongly in developing markets. For Zespri these are: China, Latin America (especially Brazil), Turkey, the Middle-East, Mexico and South Korea.

Read Gain report NZ1601, March 24, 2016, “Kiwifruit Sector Report – 2016”

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Growth – and diversification – in Spanish berry production

Spanish soft fruit production increases and consolidates as an alternative to strawberries.

Berry production, especially of blackberries, blueberries and raspberries, has shifted from an alternative production to an important cash crop for Spanish farmers, notes the USDA in a new GAIN report.

In the last five years, Spanish farmers have embraced berries as the best way to diversify their activity – and minimise the risks associated with strawberry monoculture – and as the most competitive compared to other soft fruits.

And they are riding on the back of increasing demand for soft fruits not just in Spain, but within and beyond the EU, the report says. According to FEPEX, the Spanish federation of associations of producers and exporters of fruits and vegetables, berry exports in the last six years show an upward trend within the EU28, but an especially significant one in relation to non-EU countries.

“This change is seen in the main Spanish region for strawberry production, Huelva in Andalusia, where strawberry farmers are opening new markets and business lines designed to achieve greater profitability to its business,” the report says.

“Farmers in Huelva, Andalusia, the main Spanish region for strawberry production, are increasing the planted area for blackberries, blueberries and raspberries.”

Strawberries and Huelva still dominate Spain’s berry sector

Despite the growth in alternative berries, strawberries remain the main soft fruit grown in Spain, with production rising from 189,741 tons in 2008 to 317,700 tons in 2015 (based on FEPEX figures).

Huelva accounts for 97% of total Spanish strawberry production. Its strategic location in south western Spain sees it influenced by the Atlantic, with exceptional climatic features allowing it to offer the first European berries each season. In recent years several U.S. berry companies have invested and installed offices in Huelva, both due to special climate conditions and the strategic point to reach Spain, EU, Africa and the Middle Eastern markets.

Decline in planted area

However, FresHuelva, the association of strawberry producers and exporters in Huelva, calculates that the planted area for strawberries in Spain shrunk 9.2% last season, while that dedicated to other berries expanded 25%. The total area for soft fruits during last campaign 2014/2015 was 9,460 ha compared to 9,500 ha the previous year.

Source: FAS Madrid with FresHuelva Data

source: “Spanish soft fruit production increases and consolidates as an alternative to strawberry”, USDA GAIN report number: SP1604, February 10/2016

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Rush of investment in Egypt’s retail sector

There’s a significant surge of investment in Egypt’s retail sector as the shopping habits of the country’s consumers’ increasingly move towards modern retail.

The shopping habits of Egyptian consumers are increasingly shifting towards the modern retail sector, resulting in a significant surge of investment in this sector, reports the USDA.

In its report ‘Nile Nuggets for January 2016’, it says the Al-Bustan Real Estate Development Company will invest LE (Egyptian pounds) 3 billion to build four new “HyperOne” branches in New Cairo, Shorouk City, Badr City and Assiut.

Also, the Fathalla Gomla Market Group will invest LE 70 million to establish a 10,000 m2 supermarket in Borg El Arab.

Furthermoe, UAE- based Spinneys is said to be “aggressively expanding” with plans to open 23 new branches in the Delta and Upper Egypt governorates in the next two years with a total investment of LE 5 billion. [$1 = 7.83 LE]

According to the report, the company currently owns six branches in Cairo, the Red Sea, and Qena and retail manager Mahmoud Meawad has stated that Spinney’s has the goal of achieving 35% market share in Egypt’s retail market.

Source: USDA, Nile Nuggets for January 2016
Image by: Alma E. Guinness [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons 

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Peru’s booming grape exports

Attractive prices, numerous overseas market opportunities and a major ramp up in production are behind the major boost in  Peru’s grape exports.

Peru’s grape exports have skyrocketed in the past decade, going from practically non-existent in the year 2000 to about 280,000 tons last year, reports the USDA Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN).

In a new report, GAIN says that grapes are now one of Peru’s main agricultural exports, totalling $646 million the 2014, up 43% on the previous year. They were also up 50% in volume to 267,270 tons.

It said this significant change has been driven by attractive prices and numerous overseas market opportunities, and a major boost in production as a result of new areas planted in Peru.

Peru’s main grape markets in 2014 were:

  • US 44,123 tons
  • Netherlands 41,908 tons
  • China 35,391 tons
  • Other important destinations: Hong Kong, Russia, the U.K.

Grape production in Peru

Grape production in Peru was estimated to reach 520,000 tons last year.

The central valleys along the coast (e.g., Ica, Lima) are where Peru’s grape growing is concentrated. However, new areas in the Piura and Lambayeque regions on the northern coast are rapidly developing. While the average grape yield in Peru was 20 tons/ha in 2014, yields in Piura were up to 34 tons/ha.

The country mostly grows Red Globe but other varieties include Crimson seedless, Flame seedless, Sugraone and Thompson seedless.

Climate challenges

Pests are one of the challenges Peru faces as it seeks to significantly increase its grape production. “Countries with colder climates do not struggle with pests such as nematodes, but due to Peru’s mild weather, this pest has become a problem,” the report says. However, in the northern region of Piura, warm temperatures permit up to two harvests per year, which helps offset the negative effects of pests. Also, Peruvian producers are working to develop more resistant varieties.

Another challenge for the industry is the potential impact of the forecasted severe El Niño. “The majority the growing areas are expected to face either flooding or droughts depending on their location. Without proper preventative measures by farmers and the government, the industry may experience losses in productivity which may take time to recuperate.”

Source: GAIN Report, Peru: Fresh Deciduous Fruit Annual (January 7, 2016)

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Trends and opportunities in the UK food service market

Healthy food options are the hottest trend in the enormous market formed by the food service sector in the United Kingdom, says a new GAIN report.

Healthy food options are the hottest trend in the enormous market formed by the food service sector in the United Kingdom, says a new GAIN report.

Reporting on opportunities for American exporters in the hotel, restaurant and institutional (HRI) market in the UK, the report says fresh and dried fruit are among the US products doing well, along with snack foods, nuts, salmon and seafood, cooking sauces, salad dressings, confectionery, dips and salsas, frozen foods, wine and beer.

“The UK government is increasingly promoting healthy eating and healthy lifestyles. There are opportunities for U.S. products that are natural, wholesome and healthy,” GAIN advises.

As an example of the focus on healthier living, it says fruit and vegetable juices are now more popular in the UK than carbonated drinks.

But despite the preference for healthy eating being the most significant trend in recent years, obesity rates in the UK – about 24% of the adult population is now technically obese  – are now the highest in Western Europe.

Other trends in food service in the UK

Burgers remain the number one item on menus, but other trends are becoming more mainstream in the UK, such as world cuisines, healthy food and indulgence.

“Consumer demand for new foods is strong in the UK and is continually driven by high numbers of non-UK citizens making the UK their home. Fastest growing business types are likely to be new fast food, street food, pop up restaurants, international cuisines, and coffee shops and sandwich bars,” the report says.

The report’s snapshot of major food service trends in the UK includes the following:

  • BBQ foods – Southern US foods or South American influences. Things like pulled pork, brisket.
  • Provenance – Products marketed with a focus on the country of origin, how the product was cooked, farm names and references to smaller, family owned business’ on labels and menus.
  • Street Food – Quality ingredients, seasonally sourced, quick food.
  • UK growth hot spots in 2014 – Glasgow, Leeds, Manchester, Bristol and London.

Growth forecast for UK food service market

In 2014, the UK food service sector (food and beverage sales to consumers) was estimated to be worth £46.6 billion ($74.5bn), up 2.9% on 2013.

GAIN says the sector has picked itself up after the economic crisis and predicts this year it will continue to grow, returning to the spending levels of 2008, a previous peak.

Source: GAIN report: “United Kingdom: Food Service – Hotel Restaurant Institutional”
Veggie burger image: By divinemisscopa ( [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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Trends in food retail in Russia

Grocery remains one of the sectors least affected by the macroeconomic and political situation in Russia. That’s mainly because it offers basic products of high necessity and the market’s growth is supported by the increasing sales value of large area store chains which are continuing their expansion in Russia.

Grocery remains one of the sectors least affected by the macroeconomic and political situation in Russia. That’s mainly because it offers basic products of high necessity and the market’s growth is supported by the increasing sales value of large area store chains which are continuing their expansion in Russia.

But even so, a new USDA GAIN report on retail foods in the Russian Federation says over January-September 2015, Russian retail sales turnover fell 8.5% year-on-year (in comparable prices) reaching $338 billion in value terms and food sales were down 8.3% to $165 billion.

Russia’s ban on a numerous food and agricultural products from Canada, the United States, Europe, Australia and Norway in August 2014 had a tremendous effect on grocery segment and hit retailers and Russian consumers hard. The sudden drop in food supply led to price hikes in several food categories ranging from vegetables to dairy products. “Market analysts have stated that even if Russian producers are able to replace all imports eventually, prices are not likely to ever fall back to previous levels,” the report says.

Organic, Healthy and Ready-to-Cook Products

Another trend in food retail in Russia is that busier lifestyles, particularly in Russia’s largest cities, has created steady growth in demand for products such as chilled ready meals and frozen ready-to-cook products. Supermarkets, hypermarkets, and independent grocery stores have responded by boosting their offerings of chilled and ready-to-cook meals.

Similarly, increasing health-consciousness has spurred a greater offering of healthy, low-fat, salt-and sugar-free foods, fresh exotic fruits and vegetables. High-end supermarkets have begun to develop a range of organic foods, and some entrepreneurs have tried to develop supermarkets specialising in organic produce.

Though disposable income in Russia is expected to drop along with the falling ruble and rising inflation, making all imported products more expensive for Russian consumers and causing prices for organic products to rise in the near future, Euromonitor experts estimate the category will keep growing at 5% yearly to reach $90 million by the end of 2019.

Internet retailing in Russia

The number of internet users in Russia grew 5% in 2014 to 87 million, with the biggest growth of new online customers in Russia’s regions. Indeed, regional expansion was the main driver of internet retailing expansion, as saturation in the markets of big cities negatively reflected on the channel’s overall growth towards the end of 2014.

According to a Profi Online Research study, only 17% of Russians order grocery products online. Respondents asked why they did not buy grocery items online most often mentioned doubts regarding quality and freshness – particularly for fruits and vegetables.

Source:  GAIN report RFATO028, December 9, 2015, Russian Federation, Retail Foods

Image of Moscow City 2013 by Dmitry97ken (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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How fruit symbolises the change in North Korea

A symbol of the recent change in North Korea is that tropical fruit and imported products, which used to be sold at stores only for high-ranking North Korean government officials or foreigners, are on sale all year in jangmadang (marketplaces) where commoners usually go to buy daily necessities.

A symbol of the recent change in North Korea is that tropical fruit and imported products, which used to be sold at stores only for high-ranking North Korean government officials or foreigners, are on sale all year in jangmadang (marketplaces) where commoners usually go to buy daily necessities.

So reported University of North Korean Studies professor Yang Moon-soo in a speech on the implications for agriculture from the marketisation of North Korea which has been published as a USDA GAIN report.

Ordinary North Korean people have a new custom, it is said, setting rare fruits, such as pineapple and banana, on the table for a wedding feast or birthday party,” Yang also said.

Other signs of the country’s move to more of a market economy are streets teeming with cars in downtown Pyongyang, car sales ads plastered all over the city and fast food franchises and Italian restaurants increasingly popping up, he said. Also the number of cell phone subscribers has soared from around 1,600 in 2008 to more than 2.4 million in the second quarter of 2014.

Yang said another example is the intercity bus terminal in Pyongsong, where the largest wholesale market in North Korea is located. The number of intercity bus routes from the terminal rose to 49 as of the end of 2013 and is reportedly still increasing, with individual investors, not the North Korean government, running the bus businesses.

“These recent enormous changes in the North Korean economy and society are closely related to the phenomenon called ‘marketization,’” he said.

North Korea’s Food Supply and Demand

The above table provides an estimate of North Korea’s food supply and demand situation, but does not reflect the situation in North Koreans’ real lives, Yang said. “The problem is that the official food supply and demand in North Korea is different from what North Koreans actually experience; they have access to informal markets to supplement official supplies. This gap between the (estimated) official situation and the true situation tends to get bigger as time goes by and free markets develop.”

The report is an abstract by Professor Yang, an invited speaker at the 4th annual Roundtable on DPRK Agriculture hosted by FAS/Seoul, presented a paper entitled “Marketization in North Korea: Implications for Agriculture,” which describes the steps being taken toward an unofficial market economy in North Korea and its future prospects.

Image of Mansudae Art Studio. Pyongyang, North Korea by (stephan) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons.

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Small increase forecast in Italy’s peach, nectarine crops

Italy is also major peach and nectarine exporter, mainly within the EU-28. In 2014, it exported 298,442 tons of peaches and nectarines, 19% less than 2013.

Peach and nectarine production in the 2015/16 marketing year (June-May) is forecast to inch up 2.2% in Italy, the largest peach and nectarine producer in the EU-28 and second in the world after China, reports the USDA’s Global Agricultural Information Service (GAIN) in its recent Italy stone fruit annual.

Stone fruit production has a big role in agriculture in several Italian regions, both in the north (especially Emilia-Romagna and Piedmont) and the south (Campania). The bulk of the Italian harvest occurs in June and July, according to GAIN.

  • In 2015/16, peach production is forecast at 579,000 tons (555,237 tons in MY2014/15).
  • Nectarine production is forecast at 760,000 tons (765,064 tons in MY2014/15).
  • The cling peach harvest is likely to reach 74,000 tons (61,836 tons in MY2014/15). Fruit quality is forecast to be good.

Italy’s stone fruit exports

  • Italy is also major peach and nectarine exporter, mainly within the EU-28.
  • In 2014, it exported 298,442 tons of peaches and nectarines, 19% less than 2013.
  • Lower volumes were exported to Germany (- 12%), the top export destination, representing 44% of total exports.

Italy’s stone fruit imports

  • Italy imported 75,213 tons of peaches and nectarines in 2014, a surge of 25.8% on 2013.
  • This growth was driven by increased volumes from its main supplier, Spain (+31%).

Italy’s stone fruit consumption

  • Most Italian peaches and nectarines are consumed fresh.
  • While Italian consumers generally prefer large, sweet, and pulpy fruits, Northern European markets prefer smaller, slightly sour, and crunchy fruits.

Read more here.