Southern Argentine fruit exports hit 8-year low
Fruit and vegetable exports from southern Argentina's two main ports were down 33.4% year-on-year from January to May 31, according to a release from the Río Negro government.
Port service operator Patagonia Norte statistics show produce shipments from Bahia Blanca and San Antonio Este stood at 261,698 metric tons (MT) for the period.
The operator registered 189,340MT of pear exports for the period, while 67,802MT of apples were shipped. Pome fruit accounted for the bulk of shipments, followed by onions (3,000MT), grapes (1,309MT), plums (195MT) and nectarines (41MT).
The release said the total volume was the lowest in eight years for the period with falls in exports to all main destination markets.
Europe lost its status as the number one export destination for Argentine pears during the period, with shipments falling by 48.9% to 69,692 metric tons (MT). Russia become the leading purchaser of the fruit with 77,509MT.
The U.S., Canada and Mexico accounted for 30,022MT in total pear purchases from Argentina.
Apple shipments to Russia dropped by 51.4% to 20,533MT, while exports of the fruit to Europe stood at 29,726MT.
Market conditions in Europe
The release highlighted the presence of European pears as one of the reasons for the fall in exports, especially with conference pears that were trading at adequate levels, while significant volumes were seen from Chile and South Africa during weeks 21 and 22.
"In Packhams, as has been mentioned in previous weeks, the supply was reduced with satisfactory sales for the supplied volume, and prices adjusted slightly compared to the previous week, although they continue to be higher than the last two seasons," the report said.
"Abate sales were active which helps push out volumes that are somewhat higher than the previous season, that should be settled soon as they are starting to compete with Forelles from South Africa. Prices adjusted compared to the previous week and were lower than previous years.
"In Forelles, revenues increased for shipments from South Africa and the market was re-activated for this variety, and likewise prices adjusted, and in a marked way for the smaller sizes."
The release mentioned sales remained active for local apples in the European market, winding down stock in an sufficient way, which meant prices could hold and even improve slightly for some varieties.
"Arrivals of Southern Hemisphere apples continue to be low although in recent weeks Chile increased its shipments, but they still remain lower than in previous years."
The report said gala sales were going well in Europe with a week-on-week improvement in prices. The red apple season is coming to a close with similar prices to what was recorded in 2011, while the situation has been difficult for Granny Smiths and Braeburns with a significant local supply on hand.
"In Pink Lady/Cripps Pink there is still local supply that has started to incorporate the southern [apples], which haven't entered in volumes as significant as was expected."
The release said pear arrivals in Russia from South Africa and Argentina have increased in recent weeks, with the higher volume felt through price adjustments.
With apples, supplies from Poland and other European countries remain, although they are starting to fall.
"Arrivals from the south remain lower than other seasons although Chile sent somewhat more in recent weeks," the report said.
"The market is showing an equilibrium, and while there could be a slight improvement in rubles with respect to devaluation against the dollar, prices in dollars fell compared to the previous week."
The report said wholesale pear prices were stable in the U.S. for the Bartlett and D'Anjou varieties, while week-on-week falls were seen for Bosc pears. It also noted that D'Anjou and Bosc prices were lower than in the last two years.
"Argentine arrivals are reduced, and with import prices for pears from this origin, Packhams remained stable with respect to the previous year and is similar to previous years."
The report said slight wholesale price falls were seen for Argentine Williams pears in the U.S. but prices are still better than in 2011.
Southern Hemisphere apple supply in the U.S. has been mainly from Chile, but there has also been a presence from New Zealand and South Africa, with a small quantity from Argentina.