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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.

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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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Chemical agent helps thin stone fruit

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.

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 (], via Wikimedia Commons
2: Harrow Beauty peaches at Lyman Orchards by Sage Ross (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons

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The cherry value chain: insights from Greece’s Freskon

Held in Salonika (Thessaloniki), in Greece, in April, Freskon brought together fruit producers and international buyers.

Held last month in Salonika (Thessaloniki), in Greece, Freskon brought together fruit producers and international buyers.

At the international trade show, Mario Njavro, from the University of Zagreb, spoke about managing the value chain in cherries, in particular the activities and services required to bring a product to sale in its final markets. Here are some highlights from his presentation.

Modern agriculture and its challenges

Agribusiness globally is constantly changing. The competition is getting tougher at all levels, globally and domestically, and environmental issues are becoming more important. The market structure has also been altering; retail chains are strengthening and consumer demands, legal and policy issues are constantly changing, too.

Modern horticulture has been on the rise recently. Fresh fruit and vegetable supply chains are estimated to be worth more than €120 billion a year, with approximately 550,000 employees and 1.4 million farm holdings.

Thanks to increased incomes and the transformation of consumer behaviour, high value products happen to be more and more in demand. Farmers should therefore introduce innovations in production and post-harvest technology (packaging, etc.). Small farms are turning into huge commercial enterprises with large holdings of greenhouse, field crops and extensive orchards.

Europe’s top cherry growers

In Europe, the largest producer by far is Turkey, with 84,000 ha of production area for sour cherries and 21,000 ha for sweet cherries. The second largest producer is Poland (32,000 ha of sweet and 46,000 ha of sour cherries). These are followed by Italy, Spain, Serbia, Hungary, Bulgaria and France. The cherry production area in other European countries covers less than 10,000 ha in each.


Meanwhile, the highest yields are in Romania (108 kg/ha) and the Netherlands (95 kg/ha), while in Turkey and Germany it is 68 kg/ha and in other countries the yield is less than 50 kg/ha.

Fruit sector supply chain in Croatia: farmers’ problems

Coming from Zagreb, Mr Njavro gave an overview of the fruit supply chain in Croatia. “Croatia’s retail sector has experienced extremely rapid growth, among the fastest in the world,” he said. This has involved dramatic changes in the supermarket chains’ procurement systems.

Smaller farmers generally do not meet the requirements of retailers and must sell their produce to supermarkets via wholesalers. At the same time, present and past experience with cooperatives in the fruit sector in Croatia shows organising farmers into cooperatives creates particular problems.

The leading model of vertical coordination between fruit growers and supermarkets in Croatia is restricted to loose, one-year marketing contracts. Farm assistance through structured financing instruments is provided exclusively by dedicated wholesalers (with the exception of one dominant supermarket chain).

Key challenges

For Njavro, the main challenges for cherry producers and fruit farmers are: competitiveness; product development and quality strategy; value redistribution strategy; cost reduction; development of new markets; and investments for market penetration.


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Back to normal for European peach sector


The return to normal flowering dates in 2015 promises better prospects for this season even though the volume estimates are identical to those of 2014

Peaches and nectarines (new figures)


2014 crop (tons)

2015 forecast













European peach sector operators say they are more optimistic about the 2015 season. 2014 was a record year for quantities but a disaster in terms of price, leaving all the growers a bitter taste in the mouth. The earliness of the crops meant that growing areas overlapped. The record quantities available from the end of April (a total of 1,320,301 tons for the year) and the gloomy weather brought prices tumbling down. All types of peaches suffered the same problems and the Russian embargo only served to exacerbate the imbalance. All in all, 2014 was catastrophic for peaches. Nevertheless, all the crop found a market.

Spain overtakes Italy

For the first time, Spain should overtake Italy in volume terms. The slight reduction (about 5%) in the Italian surface area, particularly in the North, explains the expected decrease in this country’s crop. In Greece, some early varieties have been damaged by heavy rain and frosts. Even so, because of the new plantings, the harvest should be similar or even larger in clingstone peaches, which account for half the Greek surface area. In France, a succession of crises and the plum pox virus (sharka virus) have led to grubbing up a certain number of orchards. Working together with the PDO peach and nectarine distributors should showcase French peaches, though the crop lags a long way behind the country’s consumption.

European apricot crops


2014 crop (tons)

2015 forecast













The 2015 European apricot forecasts are close to the final figures for 2014. The slight reduction is due to unfavourable weather conditions for certain varieties.

Last year was a generous one for the European Mediterranean countries’ apricot crops, which totalled 529,335 tonnes. They sold quite easily despite noticeable competition from peaches owing to the latter’s abundance and low prices. New apricot orchard planting continues in the north of Italy, with new, later varieties, in Spain at the expense of pip fruit, in the Roussillon in France and in certain new areas in Greece. Even so, the 2015 crop is expected to be slightly lower than in 2014, with 528,340 tonnes forecast.

Fruit set is very variable depending on the region and variety. In Italy, the varieties that are not self-fertile, largely found in the North, will be yielding less this year. There will be a lack of French Orangereds owing to alternate bearing, but other varieties should make up the shortfall.  Larger sizes could compensate for the smaller numbers. Abundant rain or periods of cold have caused 80% flower drop in Macedonia, where the crop is estimated at 8000 tons this year compared to 26,000 tonnes last year. The rainy spring of 2015 will delay the harvest compared to 2014, bringing a return to a normal calendar. The lack of cold during the winter could still have knock-on effects on the behaviour of certain varieties.

Italy, the biggest producer, which grows 40% of Europe’s apricots, will not reach its full crop potential as it did in 2014. France is moving in the direction of a normal year and the challenge will be for the regions to help the market by not clashing with each other. The quality seems to be up to the mark in Spain, where the plentiful rain has encouraged growth. The crop should be slightly bigger than in 2014. In Greece, the cold weather in Macedonia could affect the shape of the fruit.


image: By Cary Bass (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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Spanish hopeful of Chinese market entry deals soon on stone fruit, grapes


Spain is optimistic its fresh plum, peaches and nectarines will soon be imported by China.

And it is also happy with progress on a protocol which would see the Asian giant also open its doors to fresh Spanish table grapes. Spanish Secretary of State for Trade Jaime García-Legaz said recently he hoped to have positive news by the end of the year.

Final report due on Spanish plums, peaches, nectarines

A spokesman from the Spanish Ministry of Economy told EFD the Chinese phytosanitary requirements for plums, peaches and nectarines have now been “practically cemented” by AQSIQ (China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine).


In August, Chinese inspectors visited areas of plum, peach and nectarine production in Spain to verify the controls in place and their resulting assessment was regarded as “positive”, he said. After this visit, the Chinese phytosanitary requirements had been largely specified, “and it’s hoped that soon, perhaps before the end of this year, they will issue their final report and with that proceed to open the Chinese market for these products,” he said.

AQSIQ visits expected soon for Spanish table grapes

On grapes, he said Spain is waiting for China to complete its pest risk analysis, as part of which the phytosanitary requirements for this product will be determined. A visit by Chinese inspectors to Spanish production areas will follow.


No date has yet been set for these visits, but García-Legaz said he is optimistic about having “good news” in coming weeks about the scheduling of the visits and anticipates they will take place as early as possible in 2015.


In 2013, China imported table grapes worth US $514 million. Spain already has a citrus protocol with China – signed in 2005 after six years of negotiation – and believes its early stone fruit season will give it an edge there.


Learn more about the Chinese market in our recent report How fruit fared in China in 2013”


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The La Coma group: steady, controlled growth


One of Catalonia’s major stone fruit exporters, The La Coma group, consisting of Fruits Sant Miquel SL, SAT La Clamor and SAT La Capelleta, expects its production for the 2014 campaign to come to 35,000 tons, two thousand more than the last one, thereby continuing its line of steady, controlled growth. It has been operating for over 30 years in the domestic and international markets with stone fruit production in the provinces of Tarragona and Lleida and about 1,200 hectares of produce, exporting over 50% of this, which makes the La Coma group one of the largest Catalan stone fruit exporters. Nectarines and saturn peaches (35% and 30% of their production) are their main varieties of stone fruit, followed by peaches (with 25%), apricots (5%), plums (3%) and cherries (2%). In addition to an increase in production for the current season, the La Coma group’s manager, Carlos Lozano, expects an improvement in sugar levels. This will improve their quality objectives for their fruit, which is certified with BRC, IFS and GlobalGAP, among others. Among the La Coma group’s projects, Carlos Lozano explains that a company will be formed with the Catalan companies Fruites Font and Caberol Fruits to combine synergies and strengthen their presence in overseas markets. After years of success in international markets, especially with exports to European destinations (mainly Germany, Italy, the UK and France), the group has set itself the challenge of strengthening its overseas sales in the Americas.  As for new products, Carlos Lozano explains that they intend to make a stake on renewing varieties and differentiating themselves on the shop shelves. To do so, they have joined the Regal’In project, now in its third year, which was created to offer consumers quality products with consistent flavour. Under this brand, consumers are guaranteed they will acquire products always with the same taste and quality. MP

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Cot International’s new range of apricots


Many new varieties are being trialled at Cot International’s experimental orchards in Murcia and Saint Gilles. Among them are very early and very late apricot varieties that are already available and have excellent organoleptic qualities and proven agronomic suitability. Cot International is also working on an expansion of its range of Japanese-American plums. Those available are a garnet (dark red) skin with yellow flesh plum (registered as Grenadine) and a red skin with red flesh plum.

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Actel Group to have more fruit and more destinations


Forecasts for the next stone fruit campaign are looking good for Catalonian leaders the Actel Group, despite the uncertain and changeable weather. With the incorporation of new members, Actel Group Commercial and Marketing Director, José Luis Trilla, confirms a planned increase in productive and trading capacity, with a view to reaching up to 140,000 t. Their main market is Europe, where the most important countries are Germany, Scandinavia, Switzerland, France, Austria and the UK, while at the same time their exports to Brazil, Middle East, Eastern Europe and the Baltic countries are also increasing.  In overseas destinations, the Actel Group’s export share is showing significant growth.  The estimated total for this campaign is around 122,000 tons in volume, distributed in several categories. In first place, their flagship product, stone fruit (peach 18,000 tons, nectarine 19,800 t, plum 1980 t, flat peach, etc.), 75% of which is shipped to markets outside Spain. Next up are pears (36,500 t), meeting overseas delivery quotas at around 60 % with varieties such as Limonera, Ercolini, Blanquilla, Williams, Abate or Alejandrina.  In apples, only 35% is exported, although this figure is set to rise for Galas and Reds. In citruses (clementines 14.500 t and oranges 7,500 t) almost all the produce is shipped abroad, around 95%.  “Our strategy is to boost our presence in international markets, not forgetting Spain, where we are increasingly better positioned”, explains Trilla. Along with this, following an environmentally friendly trading policy, they now implement an internal protocol known as “HEALTHY FRUITS”, with the aim of generating minimum waste, choosing materials that meet the ARfD standard and at all times below 1/3 of the European MRL.

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Tany Natur presents new corporate image


Tany Nature, leader in stone fruit in Extremadura, launched its new corporate image at Fruit Logistica 2014, with a brand that pledges COMPLETE QUALITY from the outset. 
“Because we are both producers and packers, we can guarantee to our final customers the BEST TASTE. At Tany´s plantation, we start with good planting stock with the highest quality  parameter, to grow products are apt for transport over long distances, and that they meet the demands of each customer. Stone fruit usually has very delicate skin so, to ensure complete quality, inside and outside, demands real experts who know the evolution of each variety and how to handle it, in order to respond to the specific needs of each market. Therefore, the specialists on our team are very experienced and really know what they are doing to produce very healthy fruit,” explained José Maria Naranjo, the marketing and markets develops director of the top stone fruit company in Extremadura.