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Smaller Spanish stone fruit crop forecast

Smaller Spanish stone fruit crop forecast

© Public domain (source: Flickr)

 

After a disappointing 2020 stonefruit campaign in Spain, when a 30% decline in volume was registered, this season is expected to be little better. Last season’s crop was hit by excessive rainfall, which led to poor flowering and fruit set. As the official stone fruit season gets underway, the main producer of the Valencian Community, the San Bernat de Carlet Agricultural Cooperative, expects smaller volumes but is generally optimistic about this year’s campaign.

Speaking to Mercados Revista, Rafael Cosme, managing director of the cooperative, said: “Despite having less fruit, the development of the fruit on the tree is currently better than last year.” The fruit quality overall is expected to be better than last year. 

In the 90s, the cooperative sold more than 30 million kg of stone fruit, but this year’s crop is expected to barely reach 5 million kg.

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China cherry market slowly recovering after Covid-19 detection on Chilean boxes

China cherry market slowly recovering after Covid-19 detection on Chilean boxes © Eurofresh Distribution

© Eurofresh Distribution

 

On January 22, Chinese health authorities found Covid-19 on boxes of imported Chilean cherries. Despite the very low risk of contamination from food or food packaging, the news went viral and strongly affected all cherry imports at the peak of the campaign for Chinese New Year celebrations. More than 200 posts were published on social media discouraging consumers from buying imported cherries. 

The market is now slowly recovering, with prices back to 70-80% of their previous levels, but the market damage is done: an estimated 70% reduction in demand for imported cherries, with more than 50% price reduction in the 2 last weeks. Chinese public health authorities have since made statements to reassure Chinese consumers, including Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist at the China Centre for Control and Prevention of Diseases. The case also hit New Zealand cherries hard at the heart of its campaign, mainly by air. 

This episode follows the Yiguo bankruptcy last October, partly due to the sale of infected frozen meat with Covid-19. Fear of Covid-19 is now not such a worry for Chinese consumers in general, but they are not accepting to pay the usual high prices for imported products by air-freight.

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South African stone fruit targets greater sustainability

South African stonefruit targets greater sustainability
Photo: Beautiful Country, Beautiful Fruit

South Africa’s stone fruit sector is making great strides towards achieving greater sustainability. It is expected that by 2021, 60 stonefruit growers will have participated in the Siza (Sustainability Initiative of South Africa) environmental audit programme that aims to improve sustainability levels, ethical trade and environmental stewardship. Many farms have implemented best-practices such as measuring their water-use efficiencies, using satellite imagery to improve water management, implementing biological and organic farming practices, calculating their carbon footprints and making use of solar panels as an alternative energy resource.

As well as adhereing to international safety standards, farmers also have to comply with the more comprehensive and specific private and commercial standards that ensure an ongoing supply of safe, quality fruit for export markets. 

Meanwhile, the South African government is also encouraging female growers to succeed in the agricultural sector. In addition, PALS was established by fruit farmers with economic growth, job creation and social harmony as its principle goals. The organisation is working to ensure the establishment of successful black farmers as owners of the land: it involves the whole community in an inclusive process, and also provides mentorship and training programmes.

The sector has also launched the Beautiful Country, Beautiful Fruit marketing campaign to promote South African stone fruit in the UK market, with online promotions across the majority of UK retailers.

 

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Xtrema Fruit to discuss challenges facing stone fruit sector

Xtrema Fruit to discuss challenges facing stone fruit sector © Xtrema Fruit
Xtrema Fruit in 2018 © Xtrema Fruit

 

The 2nd National Stone Fruit Forum will take place on the Agromunity.com platform on November 5, from 4.30 to 8 pm. Due to the coronavirus pandemic situation, it will take place online, with over 2,000 registered agricultural professionals from around the world. The topics to be discussed will include the expected impact in January 2021 of the new European regulation for organic production and the situation of the stone fruit sector for the next campaign. The latest advances and developments in the sector will also be presented. 

The presentations will be developed within different thematic blocks: Fertigation, Plant Health, New varieties and Alternative Crops, Ecological Agriculture and Marketing. In this last block there will be a round table in which those responsible for the associations of stone fruit producers of Extremadura, Murcia and Catalonia, which concentrate most of the Spanish production (Afruex, Apoexpa and Afrucat) and where they will analyse and discuss the state of the sector.

Among the experts who will participate as speakers are researchers from institutions such as Cicytex (Center for Scientific and Technological Research of Extremadura) or SEAE (Spanish Society for Ecological Agriculture), as well as from leading companies such as Bayer or Plantae.

The online event also has the collaboration and support of ICL Specialty Fertilizers, Alimentos de Extremadura, Eurofirms and Fruit Logistica.

The online event, organised by Agromarketing, is held in collaboration with Bayer, Afruex, Cicytex, ICL-SF, Alimentos de Extremadura, SEAE and Mercados Magazine. 

Those interested in attending can register for free at www.xtremafruit.es.

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Turkey poised to benefit from China’s stonefruit woes

Turkey poised to benefit from China’s stonefruit woes

 

The heavy snow that fell in April in China’s major peach growing provinces has triggered a 500,000 ton drop in overall stonefruit production to 14.5 million tons, according to USDA. Accordingly, exports are down by around 33%, partly due to the ongoing Russian ban on Chinese fruit imports.

With EU stonefruit production also expected to fall, Turkey is poised to take advantage. Output in Turkey is forecast to rise 40,000 tons to 870,000 tons, marking the sixth straight year of growth, with exports soaring (especially to Russia), which is spurring further investment.  

 

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Turkey looks to Far East to expand export markets for stone fruit

Turkey looks to Far East to expand export markets for stone fruit

Turkey’s peach and nectarine crop is forecast to grow 5% to 870,000 tons in the 2020/21 campaign, according to Turkish Statistics Institute (TurkSTAT). Exports are increasing due to the large production volumes and the strong demand from the Russian and EU markets. Turkey continues to be among the top ten exporters in the world for peaches and nectarines. Farmers in major growing areas are generally satisfied with the yields and quality of their crop thanks to favourable weather conditions during the blooming and harvest period. Most of the peach varieties planted in Turkey are Early Amber, Spring Crest, May Crest, Red Haven and Early Red.

Planting area for peach production in Turkey continues to increase due to new investments for the export market and juice industry in the last decade. The total estimated number of all peach and nectarine trees was about 21 million in 2019. The total number of bearing trees increased from 14 million in 2009 to 17.4 million in 2019.

Use of peaches/nectarines for processing is forecast at 130,000 tons in 2020/21, similar to 2019/20. Approximately 15% of all peach production is used for juice. Turkish consumers prefer fruit juices of peach, cherry and apricot in “nectar” form. Nectars are very popular, but there is also a growing trend for 100% fruit juices. Peaches are also used to make canned products, marmalades, and are sold as frozen fruit.

Turkey is one of the largest exporters of stone fruit in the world, exporting over 250,000 tons annually, with the majority going to EU countries and Russia. Turkish exporters are also looking for opportunities for stone fruits such as cherries in the Far East, particularly China in recent years. Turkey exported 884 tons of fresh stone fruit to China in 2019. 

 

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Tesco named South African Stone Fruit Retailer of the Year 

Tesco named South African Stone Fruit Retailer of the Year 

 

UK retailer Tesco has been recognised by the South African stone fruit sector for its strong performance and promotional support during the 2019-20 season. South African growers’ association Hortgro presents the Stone Fruit Retailer of the Year prize to a UK supermarket each year. According to a statement by Hortgro, Tesco saw a noticeable increase in sales this season, with the retailer selling over three million kilos of South African stone fruit across its stores, with nectarines faring particularly well. 

The retailer organised a range of activities during the campaign, including online promotions, competitions in its staff magazine, and sampling at its head office, featuring South African Supersweet nectarines and peaches, and the ever-popular Flavorking plum variety.

Oliver Bruton, assistant buyer of fresh produce at Tesco, said, “Stone fruit is popular with our customers and we continuously strive to offer high quality produce. South Africa is our biggest sourcing region in the Southern Hemisphere and is an important country in helping us to deliver this. Within our stone fruit range nectarines and peaches remain consistently popular, with Supersweet plums also performing well. South Africa is a strong growing region. We work closely with suppliers in the region to plan effectively, and in the face of some challenges it is still able to deliver quality produce. Whether it’s through our own-label Suntrail range or our premium Tesco Supersweet brand, we aim to provide a strong range of stone fruit to suit all budgets.”

 

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Georgia increased its export of stone fruit and will raise its potato crops

Georgia increased its export of peaches and nectarines by 40%

By the end of August, Georgia exported more than 23,000 tons of peaches and nectarines, or 10,000 tons more than YOY in 2019, informed the Ministry of Agriculture of the country. Fruit are basically exported to Russia (15,500 tons), Armenia (730 t) and Azerbaijan (500 tons). The rest was exported to Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Moldova, Poland and Slovenia. Pilot lots were also shipped to Singapore and Qatar, informs newsgeorgia.ge agency.

Thanks to CIP, Georgian farmers will raise their potato crop

Three years ago, the International Center of potato (CIP) initiated the project intending the development of potato production in Georgia. In the frame of that three-year project, 76 new potato varieties were introduced for the selection, and after careful trials, the most suitable varieties in terms of yield and disease resistance were selected for production in Georgia. The negotiations regarding the second stage of the projects are being currently held.

“The representative office of CIP in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, is the regional headquarter for 7 other Caucasian and Central Asian countries: Azerbaijan, Armenia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenia and Kirgizstan,” says Rusudan Mdivani, regional delegate of CIP. “We opened several laboratories of in vitro selection of potato in some of these countries and carry out the researches devising to test new genotypes, adapt them to local climate and soil conditions, etc.”

Potato is the strategic product for Georgia, it is one of the most popular vegetables in consumers’ everyday diet. Thanks to CIP’s project, Georgia will not just satiate the domestic market, but will help to expand the export to Azerbaijan, Armenia, Turkey and even to Iran.

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Bumper cherry crop expected for Chile

Bumper cherry crop expected for Chile © Réussir Fruits et Légumes
© Réussir Fruits et Légumes

 

Chile’s 2020/21 cherry crop year is projected to increase by 12.1% to 286,000 tons, due to favourable climatic conditions and increasing planted area. The larger harvest is expected to drive up exports by 13% to 259,000 tons, according to USDA/FAS data. Planted area expands steadily at a 10% annual growth rate, with the cherry planted area forecast to reach 42,200 hectares in 2020/21. New cherry orchards increase productivity every year, giving Chile a high productive potential, which according to experts may reach over 345,000 tons by 2023/24. According to the Chilean Plant Nurseries Association (as reported by  the Chilean Fruit Exporters Association ASOEX), more than 5.6 million cherry plants were sold in 2019 and of those, more than 80% correspond to the varieties Regina, Santina, and Lapins. Cherry growers have opted for harvesting early in the season (October-November) expecting to obtain better prices in China when the supply is lower. 

In 2019/20, cherry exports reached a record 228,923 tons, up 27.2% on 2018/19. Export value increased by 43% to US$1.2 billion. China is firmly Chile´s top market for cherries, accounting for 90% of total export volume, while the United States is the second top market. However, Chilean cherry exports to the United States account for only 2% of total Chilean fresh cherry exports, and shipments to the US decreased by 4.55% in 2019/20. In early February, during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, at least 3,000 containers of Chilean cherries were on their way or arriving in China, specifically with late harvest cherry varieties. Chilean exporters stated that some of the sea ships were delayed and some shipments were stuck at Chinese ports, which carried a high risk of losing those exports considering cherries are a perishable product.  However, shipments were eventually released and managed to arrive at the Chinese market. Despite the difficulties and delays, cherry export volume to China increased by 31.62% in 2019/20 over 2018/19. Chilean cherry exporters expect Chinese demand will continue to expand, offering new market opportunities for Chilean cherries in China’s inner cities. 

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Australian peach and nectarine exports hit by higher freight costs

Australian peach and nectarine exports hit by higher freight costs

Australia’s 2020/21 stone fruit crop is projected to recover from a challenging 2019/20 season. Cherry production is predicted to increase by 14%, and peaches and nectarines by 4%, according to FAS USDA data. However, disruptions to international air freight caused by the COVID-19 pandemic are expected to have a significant impact on MY 2020/21 exports of stone fruits. To support the sector, the Australian government has created an International Freight Assistance Mechanism (IFAM) programme to help exporters secure air freight and sustain increased shipping costs.  However, even with government support, freight costs for exporters are still more than double the levels pre-COVID. As a result, exports of higher-valued fruit such as cherries are expected to be less impacted than lower-valued fruit such as peaches and nectarines. Exports of peaches and nectarines are forecast to decline by 17% in 2020/21, with peach exports the most hit as they tend to be shipped more frequently by than nectarines due to their softer flesh. By contrast, cherry exports are forecast to increase by 12% due to the larger expected crop and the high value of the product.  The combination of larger expected crops and logistical obstacles to export are anticipated to cause domestic consumption of stone fruit to rise.