Frost takes a bite out of EU apple crop

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The EU apple harvest is down 21% this year, while pear volumes remain relatively stable with a 1% decline, according to a World Apple and Pear Association (WAPA) forecast report.

Intense frost in April hit many European crops during blossoming and there was also a drought during spring and early summer, said WAPA during today’s (August 10) Prognosfruit conference in Lleida, Spain.

The apple harvest decline to 9.34 million metric tons (MT) is 23% less than the average of the last three years, while the pear crop prediction stands at 2.15 million MT.

And UK figures show a 137,000MT apple forecast –– a 25% decline on last year and 24% down on the 2014-2016 average. Pear crop estimates for Britain are 7% lower than last year at 25,000MT, which is 3% down on the average over the same period.

WAPA claim today’s figures “leave room for careful optimism for the coming season,” which could see an improvement on the supply and demand imbalances due to the Russian ban on EU produce.

“It is to be reminded that, over the last years, the market suffered the consequences of the Russian embargo and were more recently confronted by lower export volumes to North African markets,” says the WAPA report.

Variety reduction

Volume reductions will be different across apple varieties including Golden Delicious (-18%), Gala (-3%), Idared (-30%) and Red Delicious (-9%). Also, club (new) varieties will decrease 15%.

In other non-EU Northern Hemisphere countries there were also significant declines in Russia (-37%), Mexico (-30%), Switzerland (-21%), Belarus (-19%), Ukraine (-10%), and Canada (-5%).

“The USA is expecting a stable crop around 4.800.000 T. Additionally, China is expecting a further growth by 3% compared to last year’s crop of 43.800.00 T,” says WAPA.

The new season will begin two weeks earlier than usual and there could be different market trends for each variety, with a “better balance for Gala and more reduced volume for Golden or Jonagold and Elstar.”

Growers will also be closely monitoring quality which could influence the volumes of fruit destined for the fresh market and processing.

“It is currently forecasted that ca 6.200.000 T will be moving on the fresh market and 3.200.000 T for processing,” adds the report.

Meanwhile, pear varieties also show declines with Conference (-7%) and William BC (-6%). However, Abate F is estimated to increase by 12% to reach 332,000MT.  

“Elsewhere in the Northern Hemisphere, crops increased, compared to last year, in Turkey (+11%), Canada (+20%) and Moldova (+50%), whilst decreases are estimated for the production in Russia (-37%), Belarus (-20%), Switzerland (-34%), and the US (-3%),” adds the report.

“In regard to the specifics, the market will be experiencing different trends between the Southern and Northern EU markets, reflected as well in higher volume of Abate and Rocha, while the Conference pear will be down.

“The pear season will start with less pressure than last year.”

Portugal’s production is forecast to increase by 65%, while decreases are predicted for Belgium (-7%), the Netherlands (-18%) and Poland (-27%).

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