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Southern Italy set for 30% rise in cherry volumes

Southern Italy, which accounts for two thirds of national cherry production, is forecast to register a production increase of 30% (especially for early varieties), thanks to ideal weather conditions during fruit set.

Italy’s MY 2015/16 cherry production is preliminarily forecast at 131,200 tons, according to the USDA Global Agricultural Information Service’s (GAIN) latest Italy stone fruit annual.

Southern Italy, which accounts for two thirds of national cherry production, is forecast to register a production increase of 30% (especially for early varieties), thanks to ideal weather conditions during fruit set.

Calibers are forecast to be smaller than 2014 and quality excellent, and good quantity and quality are also expected in Emilia-Romagna, the report says.

 

Cherry trade in Italy in 2014

Exports: Italy exported 10,419 tons of cherries, mainly to Germany (4,686 tons), last year.
Imports: It imported 10,698 tons of cherries, mainly from Spain (5,105 tons), Turkey (1,937 tons) and Austria (1,053 tons).

Read more here.

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The new face of grocery retail in Spain

There has been a boom in proximity retailing and urban stores in Spain, with various Spanish and foreign retailers opening stores on busy shopping streets in city centres, generally with lower amounts of retail selling space. Examples include Condis Express, Carrefour Market and Supercor Expres.

Spain is slowly recovering, but its five years of economic recession have left a lasting impact on its retail sector and consumer behavior. Shoppers are now more price-conscious and retailers have had to adapt to the increasing importance of convenient locations and the incipient threat from low-cost retail formats.Those are among the observations in a new USDA GAIN report on opportunities for US exporters in Spain’s retail food market.

Consumer confidence

The report says Spain is expected to continue to show positive signs of recovery, with a return to pre-crisis retail sales figures likely by 2019. “This situation will likely be reflected in consumers gradually increasing their expenditure again, so opportunities will continue to arise for U.S. exporters,” it says. In the retailing industry, some operators have started to see slow positive growth for the first time in several years, especially in grocery.

Shopping habits

GAIN says that, according to Euromonitor, another effect of the economic crisis is consumers are now reluctant to travel to hypermarkets and big shopping malls on city outskirts, due to the cost and inconvenience. “As a result, the future of many of the large retail centers built during the good days of the Spanish economy are compromised.”

There has thus been a move to proximity retailing and urban stores, with various Spanish and foreign retailers opening stores on busy shopping streets in city centres, generally with lower amounts of retail selling space. Examples include Condis Express, Carrefour Market and Supercor Expres.

Product trends

Spanish consumers are also increasingly health conscious, GAIN says, noting that naturally healthy and free-from products are more widely available in supermarkets and specialty stores. “One of the most interesting and promising categories are healthy products indicated for food intolerances. According to Euromonitor, in 2014, food intolerance products sales grew 27% in value to reach $306 million.

Online sales in Spain

Online retailing is steadily increasing (+7% in value in 2014) and expected to continue to be prosperous in the medium term, as more store-based companies move to online commerce.

Its top internet retailers are focusing on building trust among their collective consumer base. According to Euromonitor, the reasons consumers give for shopping online are:

  • Convenience 78%
  • Better prices and offers 73%
  • To save time 66%
  • Easy purchase process 56%

However, mobile retailing is outperforming internet retailing overall in Spain, where smartphone penetration is estimated at around 80%, one of the highest rates in the EU.

Table 2. Grocery Retailers Company Shares (% Value)

Source: GAIN report SP1542, Spain, Retail Foods Annual 2015

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Strong apple, pear crops forecast for Czech Republic

Apples are among the most popular fruit consumed in the Czech Republic and are an important part of the Czech diet. However, the market for fresh apples in the Czech Republic has generally been declining due to stronger interest in new fruits, rising consumer purchasing power and a wider range of fruit choices in stores.

Despite an extremely hot and dry summer, the Czech apple and pear crops remain strong, estimated at 140,660 and 9,372 tons respectively, according to a USDA Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report.

However, due to the high age of fruit trees and lack of capital to renew orchards, the area for and number of fruit trees are declining, it says.

Harvested areas
MY2014: apples 8,721 ha, pears 704 ha
MY2015: apples 7,624 ha, pears 681 ha

Commercial production
Nevertheless, while last year Czech growers harvested 130,902 tons of apples and 3,758 tons of pears, this year commercial production should rise to 140,660 tons of apples and 9,372 tons of pears, based on figures from the Central Institute for Supervising and Testing in Agriculture, GAIN said.

Non-commercial production
Non-commercial production is thought to account for more than a third of total apple production and more than a quarter of pear production in the Czech Republic. That estimate is based on figures from the Czech Statistical Office’s annual report on production of selected crops, which includes household estimates, which places Czech apple production in 2014 (including non-commercial production) at 207,990 tons, and pear production at 12,351 tons.

Fresh Domestic Consumption
Apples are among the most popular fruit consumed in the Czech Republic and are an important part of the Czech diet. However, the market for fresh apples in the Czech Republic has generally been declining due to stronger interest in new fruits, rising consumer purchasing power and a wider range of fruit choices in stores. “Young people in the urban areas prefer new and exotic fruits such as kiwi, pineapple, kumquat, and passion fruit,” GAIN said.
Euromonitor lists the most popular locally-grown varieties as Golden Delicious, Idared, Jonagold, Gala, Discovery, Spartan, James Grieve, and Sampion. Among the most popular imported varieties are Golden Delicious, Red Delicious and Gala from Italy, and Paula Red and Royal Gala from Slovakia and Austria. “Gala organic apples from Italy are quite popular among organic varieties.”

Processing
According to Euromonitor, in 2013 retail accounted for 36.6% of domestic consumption, while food processing was the main driver of total consumption.
Prices for processing apples are about 60-75% lower.

Source: Fresh Deciduous Fruit Annual 2015: Czech Republic, Global Agricultural Information Network GAIN

Image of the Czech capital, Prague, at night: by lawyergaoge (used under Creative Commons CC0 licence)