After a positive 2016 campaign for EU peach and nectarine producers, 2017 was somewhat more complicated. The 2018 campaign saw a smaller crop due to frost damage in many areas of Europe. However, the pattern was not uniform across the EU. Despite the lower volumes of Italian and Spanish production, prices remained relatively low, although not as low as in 2017. Nevertheless, they were often below production cost. By contrast, French production was more successful on the market, commanding higher prices. This difference in price between French and Spanish production has been a phenomenon of the past three years now, and is no doubt the result of the efforts made by the French industry to develop the quality of its products, service, promotion, and collective actions such as environmentally responsible orchards. It is also the effect of the popularity of “Made in France” products in general, which makes the French more confident in domestic production than in foreign imports.
Chile will be able to export its nectarines to China as of next month, Chile’s agriculture minister Carlos Furche has announced.
After three years of negotiations and various meetings of officials from both countries, the relevant protocol is expected to be signed in November during a visit by the president of China to Chile.
In a press release, Furche, who is attending ChileWeek events in Miami, said Chile’s global nectarine exports already total about US $50 million a year.
He said the Chinese deal means Chile’s nectarine producers and exporters will have access to a market undergoing strong growth and provides opportunities to diversify their shipments.
It is also important amid what is a very competitive global market with the entry of new nectarine suppliers from countries in the European Union and in the Southern Hemisphere, Furche said.
Ronald Bown, president of the association representing Chile’s fruit exporters, Asoex, said Chile has the potential to eventually export in the region of a million boxes to China.
He said the export deal will benefit more than 500 producers and in turn help improve conditions for labourers.
“AQSIQ Vice Minister Mr. Wu Qinghai met with Minister of Agriculture of Chile Mr. Carlos Furche in Beijing on September 2, 2016. The two sides conducted in-depth discussions on the inspection and quarantine access of agricultual products and food mutually provided and reached several consensuses. After the meeting the two sides signed cooperation documents.
Chilean Ambassador to China, Director of Chilean Agricultural and Livestock Service, Directors from Chilean associations in fruits, pork and meat, and officials from CNCA, Department of Supervision on Animal and Plant Quarantine and Department of International Cooperation of AQSIQ attended the meeting.”
Source of image at top: Chilean ministry of agriculture
With a track record of over 15 years, Dasben is a consortium of major producers located in the Lleida area and, for the past 4 years, also in Murcia, supplying its customers with stone fruit from start to finish of the campaign.
The firm also grows apples and pears, supplying produce to customers all year round.
“For us the most important varieties are stone fruits. Nectarines come first in the range, followed by flat peaches, which are increasingly popular year upon year,” said commercial manager Josep María Griñó.
With an annual growth rate of 10%, stone fruit is in a period of expansion.
Griñó said diversifying this fruit towards the organic segment is highly promising, as it is bound to keep growing.
Dasben is continually engaged in varietal reconversion, “which, in addition to the privileged climate, is what has earned us our fortunate position.”
The main export destinations for stone fruit are northern European countries.
“We are looking into diversifying markets towards North America or Asia, but we want to be sure that we have the technological capacity to reach them. Packaging companies visit us each year, offering new products to help withstand longer transit periods, and we are continually doing trials,” Griñó said.
Frutaito brings together the efforts of 25 stone fruit farming families from the town of Aitona (Lleida). Saturn peaches, nectarines and peaches are some of their main reference items. This year, apricots are to be added to the range.
“We’re seeing sustained growth. Whereas 8 years ago we produced 8 million kilos, this year we plan to reach 12 million,” said Frutaito CEO Xavier Blanco, who also announced the launch in 2016 of a new warehouse for handling and storage of this significant increase in volume.
Many international markets take up the excellent supply from Frutaito, whose fruits are exported under the auspices of trading company Ruser Sport, S.L. in Germany, Italy, Poland, the UK, France and the UAE.
Now that the Chinese market is opening up for Spain, Catalan fruit producers are also setting their sights on the Asian giant. Frutaito already has all the necessary protocols to start exporting to China, Blanco said. “We are in good conditions to cross the Chinese border with our fruit, but let’s see what happens on the logistics side.”
“Although the journey only takes one day by air, this route is still very expensive. By sea might be more economical, but it’s a long voyage that can last around 30 days,” he said.
The challenge facing Frutaito, along with other Spanish exporters, is how to make exporting to China feasible with the technology currently available and ensure that the varieties they have can properly withstand this long journey.
Over the years, Catalan company Fruilar has earned a strong reputation as one of the leading suppliers and distributors of the high quality Pink Lady apple variety in Europe.
The firm enjoys the same reputation for its stone fruit supply and specialises in exporting top quality produce over long distances. Thanks to the balance between both items – pome fruit accounting for 60% of the supply and stone fruit the remaining 40% – the company can supply produce without interruption during 52 weeks of the year.
The 450 ha currently marketed by Fruilar marketing provide a volume of 15,000 tons per year, which is set to increase with the addition of new producers.
“As the result of a new partnership with a family of producers, for this campaign we’ll be adding around 1,500 tons more to our peach and nectarine assortment,” said manager Joan Serentil.
In stone fruit the company produces 3,000 tons of nectarines, 800 tons of Saturn peach and 1,000 tons of peaches.
A significant slice of Fruilar produce is exported to Brazil, its third most important market. “Brazil has been badly hit economically, but fortunately it didn’t affect us much us because we specialise in the southern zone, which is slightly more stable than the rest of the country,” Serentil said.
On strategies for this campaign, he said the aim will be to increase the company’s presence in northern Europe and the UK. As for the future, all eyes are now on Asia.
“Rubyngo®” also has great agronomic potential and is fully self-fertile. Furthermore, Alexandre Darnaud said the good development of the range of late Stargrow and Carmingo apricots in South Africa, in collaboration with 4 grower and marketing companies: Fruit Unlimited, Stargrow Marketing, Delecta and Stem. “For the second year we have successfully exported Carmingo apricots by ship from South Africa with excellent results, particularly the Faralia and Farley varieties. Produced in January and February, they are sold in Europe in February and March, after 3 weeks of transport and 1 week at the point of sale.
IPS also said the success of the varieties of red and black plums obtained by Stargrow, with IPS the licensee for the whole of Europe and North Africa. IPS is introducing a new range of varieties with 3 colours from the period of “Early Queen” to Angeleno. “We are also introducing new low-chilling varieties of Stargrow peaches and nectarines that are very promising and adapted to the area of Murcia,” Darnaud reports. Meanwhile, in the Honey Zee IPS range, the expansion is continuing in the earliest and latest range of nectarines.
Pluots and almonds: new opportunities
In addition, IPS said the launch of the company Zeeco in conjunction with Royal to develop the variety of the Pluot@, a new concept of fruit between the plum and apricot. With their headquarters in Seville, Zeeco plans to promote the cultivation of Pluot@ throughout Europe and the Mediterranean basin. IPS-PLANT is also developing sales of varieties of almonds, obtained by Zaiger for Europe. Independencia is the recently planted variety in the Iberian Peninsula. Originally from California, it is self-fertile and high in productivity. It has a soft shell, which implies a different manufacturing process. It is also early flowering, with the same cycle as the Non Pareille.
This article first appeared in edition 143 (May/June 2016) of Eurofresh Distribution magazine. Read more from that issue here: www.eurofresh-distribution.com/magazine/143-2016-mayjune
Morocco’s fruit is recognised as among the best quality and Moroccan fruit and vegetable producer idyl has the added advantage of being among the first to market with it, offering its produce from the start of April.
idyl’s peach and nectarine orchards bloom in the perfect climatic conditions found between Marrakech and the Atlantic Ocean. Its variety selection is based on taste and visual quality and the extra plus of being so early to market wins its fruit a prized position on store shelves.
Idyl’s yellow and white peaches and nectarines are available in all sizes, from 51 to more than 90 mm, and come packed in cardboard boxes of 1 layer, 50 x 30 and 60 x 40.
idyl specialises not only in stone fruit but also in high quality, tasty melons and tomatoes, and in partnership with producers in Provence, it markets and commercialises a full range of winter salads under its Eva brand.
idyl also offers a range of organic fruit and vegetables – from all origins and year-round – under its Tribu Ecolo brand.
Retail sales of fresh stone fruit in the United States have slumped 5.6% in value year-on-year, bringing the total spend in this category down $51.8 million to a total of $868.4 million for the 52 weeks to January 30.
Nielsen data also shows that the number of fruits sold has fallen 1.8% – or by 8.7 million – to a total of 471.4 million.
Peaches, which alone generate nearly half the total spend on stone fruit in the US, also largely accounted for the lion’s share of lower sales in the category.
Consumer expenditure on peaches was 7.8% lower yoy, wiping $31.5 million off the amount spent on peaches in the 52 weeks to January 31 last year.
The total peach volume sold at retail was also down, by 3.6%, to 243.6 million, a decline of 9.2 million.
Despite slight upticks in the number of nectarines and plums sold, by 0.8% and 2.1% respectively, the spend on them dwindled by 3.6% and 0.5%. And rounding off the category are apricots, which were the worst performers in terms of the percentage drop in yoy sales, though it should be remembered they account for only about 1.5% of the stone fruit volume sold. Retail sales of this fruit plummeted about 25% in value, to $19.8 million, and 26% in volume, to 6.7 million.
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.
Chemicals are used to thin out stone fruit – rather than doing it by hand or machine – under an invention from the UK’s Fine Agrochemicals Ltd.
In a patent application document, the company says the need for fruit load control is widely recognised in the stone fruit sector. As the fruit carrying capacity of trees is limited, an increase in the number of fruit – such as in the case of apricots, nectarines, plums, cherries and peaches – is accompanied by reduction in fruit size.
And since small fruit is considered “low quality fruit” in the fresh fruit market, and attracts “very low prices”, it is common practice among fruit growers to reduce the number of fruits per tree by chemical, mechanical and/or hand thinning in order to prevent branch breakage, and to obtain large, high quality fruits, and also because abundant bearing may cause bi-annual bearing, which is disadvantageous in itself, it said.
But the hand thinning of flowers or of fruit require a lot of manpower and is “very expensive”, the company said in the documents published by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). And mechanical flower thinning has downsides including the risk of tree damage.
As for the less labour intensive option of chemical thinning, the company said “very few” products are available for stone fruit and only treatment with GA3 (gibberellic acid) is relatively common.
Instead, it proposes use of gibberellin 7 (GA7) for thinning of stone fruit by applying the GA7 as foliar spray within 12 weeks after full bloom, and preferably using the GA7 mixed with GA4.
Suitable stone fruit include peach, apricot, nectarine, plum, cherry and mirabelle but the preferred species are peach and nectarine.
Tests show that with suitable application of GA7, at least a 30% reduction (between 10-70%) in fruit set is achievable, it said.
1: Nectarine branch by Christopher Thomas (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons
2: Harrow Beauty peaches at Lyman Orchards by Sage Ross (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons