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South African stone fruit sector battles through sustained drought

South African stone fruit sector battles through sustained drought

As South Africa’s farmers continue to battle the sustained drought the country has undergone in recent years, Hortgro, the organisation which represents South Africa’s stone and top fruit industries, has been supporting producers and agricultural workers to manage their product during the harvesting season. Hortgro Science provides research-based information to enhance the quality of South African stone and top fruit. Growers reportedly receive regular notes and technical updates from Hortgro Science, highlighting the primary fruit quality aspects to be adhered to during heat waves. The organisation works in collaboration with the Canning Fruit Producers’ Association, Agri Western Cape, Agri SA and Wine TU to help producers financially to through the rest of the production season and contain risks to crops. Hortgro delivered 1,000 food parcels to affected farmworkers in the Ladismith area and held a ‘resilience workshop’ to empower them mentally with coping strategies at the end of 2019.

The good news is that the drought has broken in some areas, like Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. This means that Hortgro is optimistic that volumes will continue to increase throughout the season. Jacques du Preez, general manager trade and markets at Hortgro, said: “We are projecting an increase of 21% for nectarines compared to last season’s volumes, an increase of 14% for peaches and a 10% increase for plums. The continued droughts in some areas have, of course, impacted on the 2019/20 season’s full potential, but volumes and quality have certainly improved compared to last year.”

 

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Spanish stone fruit sector under immense pressure

Spanish stone fruit sector under immense pressure, credit. Alexandra Sautois, Eurofresh Distribution
© Alexandra Sautois, Eurofresh Distribution

 

Spain’s Afrucat stone fruit committee has agreed an Emergency Plan to protect the sector through a range of short- and long-term measures, including a request to the Ministry for a start plan consisting of 10,000 hectares throughout the Spain in Catalonia, Aragon, Murcia and Extremadura. This plan would remove about 300 million kilos of peaches and nectarines from the European market (25% of which is controlled by Spanish production). According to the director general of Afrucat, Manel Simon, this measure could be enough to reverse the negative trend that has seen the sector hit by a series of losses since the end of summer 2014 when the Russian veto began.

The association estimates that Cataluña’s stone fruit sector alone will lose €90 million this campaign and expects the Spanish ministry to invest €50 million in the aforementioned plan. Sisco Palau, president of the Afrucat Stone Fruit Committee highlights the need to apply the measures “in a sector that has been heavily affected by losing three consecutive campaigns and suffering cost increases.” Palau insists on the importance of uniting the entire sector (organisations and unions) and extending this union to other state organisations.

Other measures proposed include investments in reducing production and plant costs with the implementation of existing innovations, as well as campaigns for promoting consumption and the opening of new markets for Spanish fruit.

The 2019 stone fruit campaign was marked by a full European production of peach and nectarine, with a 10% increase in volumes. The calibres were fair and there was a saturation of markets caused by the high amount of stone fruit in the traditional European markets due to the ongoing Russian veto.

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HaciendasBio sends abroad a 90% of the stone fruits

HaciendasBio sends abroad a 90% of the stone fruits

The total production of this Spanish company is splited among the European Union. 50%  is sent to Germany, 10% remains in Spain and the rest is distributed among other European countries such as Switzerland, France, Sweden, Denmark, Holland and the United Kingdom.

HaciendasBio is the only European producer with 20 consecutive harvesting weeks from its own farms.

Spain’s leading producer of organic fruit and vegetables and leader in exporting them to Europe – estimates a production of 6,958 tons of stone fruits in the current season. The company exports to Germany 50% of the total volume of its production, 40% to countries of the European Union such as Switzerland, France, Sweden, Denmark, Holland and the United Kingdom and a 10% goes to the Spanish market, where the organic products’ consumption is not as widespread.

HaciendasBio began with the stone fruits’ season in mid-April, before other Spanish regions such as Extremadura or Catalunya, that started in May. It was possible due to the acquisition in January 2018 of the farm La Falamosa, located in the Spanish Southern city of Seville (Andalusia).

The harvesting of stone fruits extends between April and October. It is the company’s key season and thanks to this local employment increasing, hiring HaciendasBio up to 1.041 workers. HaciendasBio is the only European producer with 20 consecutive harvesting weeks from its own farms.

Spanish weather the key for stone fruits

The Spanish areas where HaciendasBio cultivates stone fruits are individually chosen with the aim of extending the campaign on the calendar. The farm from Seville – La Falamosa – has a humid weather and high minimum temperatures allowing a sooner harvesting of peaches and nectarines. Andalusia is a suitable region for the plantation of stone fruits, since it has slight temperature changes between morning and night, that is the reason why it has been possible to overtake the production of those fruits 15 days in the calendar. The rest of the company’s farms that produce stone fruits are located in Catalonia and Zaragoza, which soils have completely different attributes. These two territories are characterized by cold and foggy winters that allow the campaign to be extended to a later point.

About HaciendasBio

HaciendasBio is the first producer of organic fruit and vegetables in Spain and leader in exporting those products to Europe. Jose Ramón Rituerto and Paco Casallo set up the company 15 years ago and it is now the leading stone fruits producer in Europe. The company is a reference in the market with a production divided among different farms in Badajoz, Almería, Tarragona, Lérida, Sevilla, Gran Canaria y Zaragoza.

HaciendsBio is a group of people devoted to taking care of the land, environment and the improvement of soil’s fertility following the principles of Biodynamic agriculture. This group has a common thought of combining their effort, enthusiasm and daily work and reverting it to the consumer as a full of life fruit.

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Abysmal state of market for Valencia’s stone fruit

Abysmal state of market for Valencia’s stone fruit

Valencia’s stone fruit producers are gloomy about the prospects for the season ahead. Demand for the fruit is very low among European major retail chains, according to AVA-ASAJA. This is causing a “real collapse” at the outset of the new campaign and is greatly concerning growers who are unable to find outlets for their fruit at prices that would at least allow them to meet production costs. This is the point of the season when prices should be at their highest. This year’s fruit quality is said to be of excellent quality due to the good number of cold hours.

The AVA-ASAJA urged local and national administrations to support growers to prevent an “irreversible disaster”. Suggestions include removing large volumes of fruit from the market place urgently.

 

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14% increase in Spanish stone fruit crop

A bumper harvest is expected for Spain’s stone fruit, which is set to total 1.43 million tons in 2019 – a rise of 14% from last season in peaches. This represents a return to 2017 levels. However, 2017 also saw very low production prices, which led to the implementation of a “Plan for the improvement of the stone fruit sector” by the country’s Ministry of Agriculture. Latest estimates indicate a rise of 23.3% for peaches (1 million tons), a 2.8% rise for plums (152,000 tons) and a 2% rise for apricots (170,000 tons). Meanwhile, a 3% drop is expected for cherries (106,000 tons).

The country’s main peach-producing region is Catalonia (273,791 tons, + 10.6%), followed by the fast-expanding Aragon (266,301 tons, + 89.2%); Murcia (246,133 tons, + 8.7%) and Extremadura (68,000 tons, + 41.7%). Other regions have seen drops, including Andalusia (48,117 tons, -5.6%) and Castilla-La Mancha (38,090 tons, -10.1%).

Apricot production is mainly concentrated in Murcia (92,259 tons, -11.6%), Valencia (27,158 tons, +18.7%), and Aragon (20,000 tons, -3.5%).  While Extremadura is the centre for plums (71,000 tons, +0.7%), followed by Andalusia (23,721 tons, +21.8%), Valencia (14,736 tons, +18.1%), Murcia (14,036 tons , +18.1%) and Aragon (11,821 tons, -11.3%). In cherries, Aragona leads the way (37,868 tons, +7.9%), which has overtaken Extremadura (30,200 tons, -16.6%).

The first varieties of stone fruit show “a good quality”, according to the Spanish fruit association’s report.

 

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HaciendasBio brings forward stone fruit campaign with a new La Falamosa estate in Seville

HaciendasBio brings forward stone fruit campaign with a new La Falamosa estate in Seville

Stone fruit cultivation started at the Seville farm at the beginning of 2018 with the objective of bringing forward its peach and nectarine calendar compared to other autonomous communities such as Extremadura and Catalunya

Spain’s leading producer of organic fruit and vegetables HaciendasBio has a new farm which started stone fruit cultivation in January 2018. Early results are good. In its first year of activity, La Falamosa has produced 30 tons of peach and 75 tons of nectarine. This week marks the beginning of the harvest of these products fifteen days earlier than the company’s crops in Extremadura and Catalonia. Stone fruit represents 60% of the company’s total production.

This new farm of 97 hectares is located in Dos Hermanas, Seville, in the natural area called Brazo del Este, near the marshlands of the Guadalquivir, the Doñana National Park and a few kilometres from the coast. There are 15 hectares of nectarine production, 6 hectares of peach production, 30 hectares of table grapes and 5 hectares of plum. There are also smaller quantities of figs and pumpkin.

La Falamosa also has an area of 25,000 square metres in the centre of the farm for eliminating the salts contained in the water from the Guadalquivir River. In addition, 90% of the energy used to irrigate crops comes from solar energy.

An exceptional climate

The Sevillian farm is located in an area with a humid climate and minimum high temperatures that allow the precocity of the peach and nectarine crops. In addition, in Seville there are little changes in temperature between morning and night, an aspect that favours the production of these fruits in the territory. In the case of Extremadura or Catalonia the minimum temperatures are lower and the changes throughout the day are more remarkable.

Andalusia, a key territory for HaciendasBio

Around 23% of the company’s land is located in Andalusia, with 433 hectares distributed in eight farms: seven in Almeria and one in Seville. About 31% of the firm’s total production is grown here, which amounted to 10,000 tons in 2018. The company employs 570 people in Andalusia, almost 55% of its total workforce.

TAGS: HaciendasBio, Andalusia, stone fruit

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Spanish stone fruit and grape campaigns on track

Spanish stone fruit and grape campaigns on track

Spain’s fruit producers and exporters association (Apoexpa) is satisfied with the 2018 fruit growing season and is looking forward to an improved 2019 campaign. At this point in the season, there have been no adverse meteorological phenomena or diseases to damage the region’s crops. President of the association, Joaquín Gómez, said that Murcia’s stone fruit and table grape campaigns were both looking good, especially for stone fruit, which should bounce back from last season’s lower crop. Another advantage for exports is that the harvest should commence a week earlier than usual. In 2018, Spain exported 172,000 tons of stone fruit, worth €230 million.

Source: murciaeconomia.com

 

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Chilean Stone Fruits Month gets underway in China

Chilean Stone Fruits Month gets underway in China

Chilean stone fruits will be the subject of a new promotional campaign in Chinese stores throughout March. The event, now in its second year, is organised by the Chilean Stone Fruit Committee of the Chilean Fruit Exporters Association (ASOEX), with the support of ProChile Shanghai. The “Chilean Stone Fruits Month” launch ceremony was held in Shanghai on March 1st at the 606 Huanghua Road outlet of QuickMart. The event began with speeches by Juan Jose Wood, trade commissioner of Chile in Shanghai for ProChile and Charif Christian Carvajal, director of marketing for Europe and Asia at ASOEX. Visitors to the store were invited to fruit tastings to enjoy the flavours of Chilean nectarines and plums, an array which included Chilean sugar plum, Dapple Delight, Friar Black and Fortune varieties of plum and the Majestic, Bright Pearl and Arctic Snow varieties of nectarine.

The campaign will take place in QuickMart stores, with more fruit tastings at the weekends, and online promotions targeting consumers within 3 km of the stores, comprising advertising banners, push messages, SMS messages, and promotional leaflets delivered with food orders, by leveraging the Ele.me app and website.

Chilean stone fruits are typically available from the end of December to late March or early April and are proving increasingly popular in China, with 41,300 tons of plums and 16,700 tons of nectarines imported into China last season. Approximately 49% of fresh nectarines and 74% of fresh plums imported into China in the 2016–17 season originated from Chile.

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Catalonia to reduce stone fruit area by 10%

Catalonia to reduce stone fruit area by 10%

Catalonia is to cut its peach and nectarine production by 10% to prop up market prices, which have suffered since the closure of the Russian  market in 2014. The region’s Department of Agriculture plans to eliminate 2,000 hectares, according to Fepex. The measure will also include a subsidy of €5,000 per hectare, with a maximum of three hectares per applicant and with the commitment by the producer not to replant peach, nectarine, flat or saturn peach for the next four years. The Fruit Business Association of Catalonia, Afrucat, which is part of FEPEX, welcomes the step as benefiting sales. It will lead to the removal of old, lower quality varieties from the market.

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Spain remains emphatically Europe’s stone fruit king

peaches y nectarines

Intra-EU trade in peaches and nectarines measured 1.3 million tons in 2017.  Every year, Spain’s dominant position becomes ever more secure as Europe’s main producer of the stone fruits, and 2017 was no different. Spanish exports to other EU countries have risen steadily over the past decade, from below 500,000 tons in 2007 to almost 900,000 tons in 2017. Meanwhile, Spain’s biggest rival, Italy, has seen its fortunes go in the opposite direction. In 2007, Italian exports of peach and nectarine to the EU stood at around 330,000 tons, but by 2017 that figure had dropped to around 200,000 tons. Elsewhere, since 2013, Greece has seen a steady increase in its EU exports, reaching approximately 120,000 tons in 2017. Europe’s other main producers of stone fruit, the Netherlands and France, have recorded relatively low exports to the EU over the past decade, never exceeding 50,000 tons. The EU’s largest importers of peaches and nectarines are Germany, France, Poland and Italy.