Brazilian apple sizes down with Fuji harvest now underway

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Brazilian apple sizes down with Fuji harvest now underway

Towards the end of 2011 Brazilian apple growers were optimistic for a great quality crop with high volumes, but hailstorms led to a 5% downward revision of the season estimate to 1.187 million metric tons (MT). This forecast remains, but Brazilian Apple Producers Association (ABPM) executive director Moisés Lopes de Albuquerque asserts the weather effects have still been better than in 2010-11. 

Around 95% of the country's apples are of the Gala and Fuji varieties, with the former having finished its harvests in the regions of Fraiburgo and Vacaria.

Small volumes of Galas continue in the region of São Joaquim, where the Fuji variety kicked off at the start of this month. The region was the hardest hit from hail earlier this year with almost half its crops affected.

With Fuji collections now also underway in Vacaria, Lopes de Albuquerque says the season to date would be best described as 'interesting'.

"The fruit have had excellent color, strength and balance of sugar and acidity. The apples have been smooth, or free from russeting and scabs," he told

"We're coming from two seasons with fruit above the Brazilian average. This year the fruit lost its average size and returned to the national historic average.

"There have been hailstorms, however the area of orchards affected in terms of Brazil is much lower than in the previous year. Some regions suffered more than others, but the national average of affected area is much lower than the crop in 2010-11."

Competitive challenges

He adds the quality is still one of the best in the country's history, but competitive issues remain with a large stock of apples in Europe and a high currency.

"High inventories are never good but what has affected us most is the Brazilian currency. It is this factor that is determining our export strategy."

He highlights that Brazil does not practice agriculture subsidies and costs of production are high, with structural deficiencies in the roads, bureaucratic hurdles, taxation and labor costs.

"It is very difficult to compete in a market that is highly competitive at the international level, like the apple market, with the appreciation the Real is experiencing with the euro and the dollar.

Domestic market

With the strong value of the Brazilian currency, growers still have many opportunities in the local market if exports prove unprofitable.

"Brazil is the third-largest fruit producer in the world, behind only China and India. Consequently the fruit market is highly competitive in Brazil," he says.

"In the specific case of apples, Brazil is among the 10 largest producers - the exchange rate has taken away the attractiveness of exports, so a bigger volume of apples is being sold in the domestic market.

"Apples have a large competition with other fruits and apples themselves in the search for Brazilian shelf space - the Brazilian retail and wholesale markets are very conservative in terms of varieties."

He says despite the development of interesting new varieties from the country's research institutions, it is still very difficult to convince the market to work with them and the take-up is slow.

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