The oversupply of pears in the European markets is putting the sector under severe stress. As of March 1st 2019, total EU stocks were at record levels (447,000 tons), up from 384,000 tons on the same date last year. The Netherlands and Belgium both recorded record levels of stocks, while Europe’s other leading pear producer, Italy, registered slightly lower stocks from last year’s levels. Conference account for over 75% of these stocks, with Abate the next most common variety. The price for Dutch Conference pears is dramatically lower than the figures for previous years. The average producer price this season for 55-65 mm fruit stands at €35/100kg, compared with €60/100kg last year and €70/100kg the year before.
Fruit size is good in most of New Zealand’s production areas thanks to favourable weather conditions leading up to the 2017/2018 harvest. Total pip fruit production is estimated to be up 7% to 574,200 tons. Besides the good growing conditions, the boost in volumes is also due to a 3% larger harvest area and existing orchards being converted to new, more productive apple varieties. Thanks to the good production season, total pip fruit exports are expected to be 8% higher than in 2016/17 at 377,650 tons. A further result of the good season is expected to be seen in a boost in domestic consumption, which is expected to rise to 83,550 tons, while fruit for processing is estimated to increase to 116,800 tons.
For the fifth consecutive year, the 2016/2017 campaign was a profitable one for New Zealand’s apple and pear farmers and this trend is expected to continue into 2017/2018. This performance is generating confidence in the sector and a willingness to invest further. Indeed, the planted area in 2017/18 is estimated at 9,825 ha, with 9,400 ha being harvested. Orchard areas are expanding at a rate of 250-400 ha each year, up from 250-300 ha. This data is not exact data as producers do not have to register new plantings until they are ready to be harvested. In addition, growers are converting over 10% of their existing planted area to more productive and popular varieties. It is estimated that 40-50% of the planted area now consists of Intellectual Property protected varieties such as Envy, Rockit or Honeycrisp.
Since a few months Indian fruit lovers can find a new pear from Belgium in their fruit & vegetables stores. The last three months BelOrta has made promotion on an unprecedented scale for the Belgian Conference pear in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore in collaboration with Bollywood actor Sonu Sood. The Belgian Conference pear from BelOrta is currently available in leading stores across the country, ready to be tasted.
Launching a new unknown product in a new market involves a lot of efforts and patience. BelOrta, Minister Schauvliege, VLAM, SALK, the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and Flanders Investment & Trade have therefore joined forces for the launch of the Conference pear in India. This pear has a strange ‘rusty’ look for the Indian consumer and its very own specific shape. The many positive qualities of the Conference pear should therefore be communicated in a promotion campaign.
Bollywood star on board
In early November, the Belgian Conference pear has been presented at a press conference in Mumbai in the presence of one hundred and fifty journalists. The popular Bollywood actor Sonu Sood has been selected as an ambassador to introduce this unknown pear. Together with Celebrity Chef Ranveer Brar, Sonu Sood represents the Belgian Conference pear at events, social media and on TV.
Conference all around
Recent months, the Conference pear has been promoted along the road, at bus stops, in cars, in cinemas, wholesale markets and schools. In addition, a cross-media plan has been rolled out through social media, on TV, on radio and in a large family park. Indian consumers can try the Conference through tastings in various stores in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore during two months. The pear is available separately but also in a small punnet containing the image of the Indian superstar Sonu Sood. Now it’s wait and see if the Indian consumers like the taste of the Conference pear.
Additional apple campaign
Since three years India has become an important destination for Belgian apples. Out of nowhere, this country has become one of Belgians top 5 of major exporting countries for this product. Thanks to additional funding from Minister Schauvliege, BelOrta can promote the Belgian apples in India in 2017 too.
The 2015/16 Italian apple season is coming to the end after a complex business year characterised from the outset by various critical factors. The most significant of these include: one of the biggest ever European harvests, the suffocation of Polish apple exports by the Russian embargo, and political and financial instability in North Africa. These factors, which have put pressure on prices throughout the season, have persuaded Italian apple exporters to focus more closely on new markets such as India and South-East Asia. Even if prices have recovered slightly, the European market has not yet restored its pre-embargo balance. For producers, it looks like this could be a second unhappy year with sale prices equal to or below production costs.
Clementi boosts volume by 15%
Italian firm Clementi plans to raise its export capacity. This apple producer from northern Italy has earned an international reputation for delivering fruit in optimum conditions, with intense colour, crunchy texture and a long shelf-life. “For this season, we’re increasing our volumes by 15%, thanks to the contribution from new partners from the mountainous area,” explains Philip Mosna. Thanks to the high quality of fruit grown in the mountains, Clementi has gained a firm foothold in Europe and the same is happening in its prospecting process to penetrate new regions of Asia such as Malaysia, India, Singapore and Hong Kong. “We see a great opportunity in overseas markets, as we have the quality required to succeed there.” Moreover, Mosna confirmed that trading in the Crimson Snow variety has been a great success in Germany. “We’re renewing our commitment to the breeder company Kiku, as we value its sensible initiatives in variety innovation,” says Mosna, adding that one of the key strategies for 2016 will be the inclusion of new apple varieties, while diversifying supplies of other products. To this end, they hope to soon incorporate new programmes for berries, vegetables and yellow kiwi. Clementi is a family business up and running since 1952, cultivating 65,000 tons of apples in the mountainous area of Laives and the valley of Trentino – Alto Adige.
Canada’s imports of fresh apples in the 2016/17 marketing year are set to slip 2% on the previous year to about 225,000 tons.
A recent GAIN report also says that based on forecasts from a USDA post in Canada, the US, Canada’s main supplier of fresh apples, will retain a stable market share of about 80% of those imports.
Canada’s fresh apple production for the 2016/17 marketing year (July to June) is expected to rise 11% to 375,000 tons.
“As the planted area remained unchanged from the previous year, this production increase is attributable to an overall good growing season in Ontario and British Columbia, two of the major apple producing provinces in Canada. However, a dry summer and blight have negatively impacted the production in Eastern Canada, particularly in Quebec and Nova Scotia.
“Over the past fifteen years, fresh apple production in Canada has slowly declined, consistent with reduced planted areas and reduced profitability of apple cultivation. However, data for the recent years seem to indicate that the sector has now stabilized, as growers have learned what production level is most economical and profitable,” the report says.
Canada’s apple industry was forced to downsize due to more affordable imports from the US, Chile and other low cost countries, as well as its high production costs and a strong Canadian dollar.
“Many apple growers responded to the evolving market situation by converting orchards over to new plantings of vinifera grapes (especially in British Columbia and Ontario) and other fruits, as well as by turning land over for new housing development projects,” the report says.
Growers planning to stay in the industry are turning to newer, more popular varieties such as Ambrosia and Honeycrisp and new, modern intensive planting systems.
Meanwhile, Canadian apple consumers are trending away from some of the more traditional varieties, such as the McIntosh, which was once the most popular apple variety there.
According to the Ontario Apple Growers Association, these days one in every three apples eaten in Ontario is a Gala, most likely grown in Washington state or Chile.
Canada’s fresh apple exports are expected to inch up 2% to 35,000 tons in 2016/17.
“In general, the export volumes of the past several years represent about one-third of what Canada used to export over a decade ago. Canadian exports of fresh apples have steadily declined over the last 10-15 years, reflecting the overall decline in production and reduced profitability and competitiveness in export markets.”
Source: Canada Fresh Deciduous Fruit Annual 2016, GAIN Report CA16051, 11/1/2016
Although Trecoop is capable of producing 30 million kg of fruit, this campaign the supplies will fall by about 20% to 25 million kilos due to the low winter temperatures that have noticeably reduced the different varieties of fruit.
Thus, the co-operative from Lérida is expecting production of 15 million kg of pear varieties and about 10 million kg of stone fruit (peaches, nectarines, Saturn peaches and flat nectarines).
As regards pears, Trecoop produces 6 million kg of the Williams variety, which is produced from July to November. This variety has been highly prized when fresh since the EU uncoupled aid to industry related to it. Brazil is a very important market for this item.
The Limonera pear, which is one of the main varieties offered by the Catalan company, arrives at the start of July with another 3 million kg.
Conference pears account for another 3 million kg of production and have given Trecoop worldwide fame as one of the true specialists in this variety.
“Our quality, elasticity and capacity for adaptation to the different protocols and needs of each client have given us a very good image. Our Alosa and Trecoop brands are known on the international markets,” said Trecoop general director Ignasi Gonzalez.
He highlighted the continued campaign presence in the markets of the Baltic republics, Columbia and islands such as Martinique and Reunion.
Despite Trecoop’s preparation and readiness for export, Gonzalez said that “working with the Americas must economically compensate the production work in the field, processing and logistics involved, since we are well established in the local and European markets with 70% of our sales.”
WAPA – the World Apple and Pear Association – has welcomed a Chinese organisation as member.
The Apple and Pear Section of the China Chamber of Commerce of Foodstuffs and Native Produce (CFNA) officially became a WAPA member on September 2 in Xi’an (Shaanxi, China) on the occasion of the International Fruit Conference.
In a press release, WAPA said that with the inclusion of the Chinese member, it now represents close to 70% of the world’s apple and 90% of its pear production.
WAPA president Daniel Sauvaitre (ANPP, France), who attended a signing ceremony on behalf of WAPA to mark the milestone, said the accession of CFNA to WAPA is a significant step for the global representation of WAPA, given the great potential of the Chinese apples and pear production.
“I am very pleased that we have filled this gap and identified the right partner to add a Chinese voice at the table of the association, as this will further enhance the global discussions of the Association,” he said.
China’s increasing role in global of apple & pear production, trade
WAPA vice president Todd Fryhover (Washington Apple Commission, USA) said getting China on board will benefit all WAPA members.
“China is by far the leading producer, but also represents a growing market for many apple and pear suppliers around the world. The participation of China in the efforts of WAPA to boost the category and move production towards varieties demanded by consumers is a clear added value for all,” he said.
WAPA is also currently in the final stages of concluding other membership engagements. It was created in 2001 as a platform to address global challenges and to identify new opportunities for the apples and pears growers’ communities around the world. It represents the 20 leading apples and pears associations from both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.
The Abu Dhabi agriculture group Elite Agro aims to become a major player in the Moroccan fruit industry. “We hope to invest in up to 1,500 ha of fruit and berry products within the next 5 years,” said Elite Harvest CEO Dr Abdulmonem Almarzooqi.
Based in Rabat, the Moroccan division has been contracting about 108 ha near Kenitra and 170 ha of pomegranates are planned in Beni Mellal, 243 ha of apples and pears in Sefrou, near Meknes, and another 91 ha in Ain Allah near Fez.
“We are also running in other opportunities to invest in Africa, like Mauritania,” Almarzooqi said.
Hail storms, blooming difficulties and an ongoing decline in planted area have seen USDA forecasts for Argentina’s production of apples this year revised down to 640,000 tons and that for fresh pears to 580,000 tons.
Exports are revised down to 105,000 tons for apples and revised up to 330,000 tons for pears.
“The severe economic and financial crisis which has been affecting the local fruit sector during the past few years has contributed to decreased planted area for both fruits,” says the USDA GAIN report Argentina: Fresh Deciduous Fruit Semi-annual.
It also says Argentina’s table grape production for the 2016 calendar year is projected to decrease drastically to 60,000 tons – a 40% decrease from official estimates – due to less competitiveness of local companies in export markets, and the conversion of table grape areas to raisin production.
The country’s table grape export forecast has been revised down to 11,000 tons.
“Exports of all three types of deciduous fruit are estimated to remain lower than historical levels as a result of lost competitiveness and stressed demand due to economic problems in major export markets, such as devaluation in Russia and Brazil.”
However, amid volatile export markets, the US remains a reliable market for Argentine apples and pears, the report says.
Souce: USDA GAIN report Argentina: Fresh Deciduous Fruit Semi-annual: Apples, Pears, and Table Grapes (5/31/2016)
New Zealand’s deciduous fruit exports should reach a total of 351,000 tons for 2015/16, up from 333,218 tons in 2014/2015, according to updated forecasts in a recent USDA Gain report.
Even though this season was meant to be a biennial bearing ‘off’ year, total deciduous fruit production for 2015/16 is now forecast at 561,100 tons, which would be just 0.7% under the 2014/15 volume of 564,800 tons, the report says. This is thanks to a superb growing season and new plantings of varieties less susceptible to biennial bearing.
Grower returns for the 2015 calendar year were up 15-20% on a per hectare basis, making three profitable years in a row and similar, “if not slightly better” returns are expected this year.
“The highlight of the CY2015 New Zealand export season was the very good FOB returns, which averaged NZ$33.96/TCE thirteen percent better than 2013/2014. A depreciation of New Zealand currency during the year was behind the increase. Most grower returns were bolstered by 15-20% per hectare from a combination of the better prices and on average five percent better average yields,” the report says.
Sector in expansion mode
Total deciduous fruit plantings are estimated at 9,626 ha, up 3.4% on the 2014/15 total of 9,309 ha. “Total plantings are forecast to keep increasing at the rate of 300-400ha per year through to CY2020.”
“…the sector is now in a renaissance and is forecast to expand the planted area each year through to 2020. By 2020 it is forecast the apple area will be 10,400 ha to 10,600 ha. The trends of the last 5-6 years will be continued in terms of cultivars planted with: high color Royal Gala sports; new Fuji varieties; Pacific Queen; and Envy plantings dominating.”
Top image courtesy of Pixabay