NZ: Braeburn exports to fall by more than a quarter

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NZ: Braeburn exports to fall by more than a quarter

New Zealand growers are forecasting a 27% year-on-year decrease in braeburn apple exports at less than 54,000 metric tons (MT) due to the weather and a high exchange rate.

Pipfruit New Zealand chief executive Alan Pollard, said the decline was due to a range of factors.

"This low crop is a combination of a cooler summer producing smaller fruit but also growers reacting to the high NZ dollar by sending their crop to process, thereby reducing risk."

He said for several seasons growers had received returns below the cost of production on their Braeburns, even though the volume shipped has been steadily decreasing.

"We have gone from a high of eight million cartons (144,000MT) exported in 2005 to this year's crop of less than three million cartons. This represents a significant change over a short time for a tree crop."

He said a high exchange rate was not the only issue and that other varieties such as Jazz and Pink Lady have also competed for market share with Braeburns.

In addition, fruit consumption in Europe has been slow for some months with consumers looking for bargains. Southern Hemisphere suppliers have already responded by reducing Royal Gala exports to Europe by nearly 40%.

Exporters remain optimistic about the performance of Braeburn for 2012 with the reduced volume.

"Braeburn is an iconic NZ apple and there is good consumer demand for it in Europe. The fruit this year is highly colored and has excellent texture and eating quality. I am confident that this year’s smaller than predicted crop will be sold at sustainable prices and that the variety will remain a key part of our international supply."

The Braeburn sales window is just starting in Europe for 2012, with the first fruit now being sold in the wolesale markets and supermarket programs expect to start by mid June.

Related stories: Smaller apples a challenge for NZ growers this year

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