European shortage of Packham pears fuels Abate appetite

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European shortage of Packham pears fuels Abate appetite

Europe has a shortage of Packham pears prompting strong sales of Abate Fetels and a general rise in prices, according to industry sources.

South Africa, the largest Southern Hemisphere supplier of Packhams, held back exports to Europe because of fears the market was oversupplied with backlogs of Polish conference pears in cold storage.

However, Cobana Fruchtring GmbH pear category manager Niels Rostren, said sales of Polish conference pears ended earlier than predicted leaving a gap in the market.

"Now in the last few weeks we are completely lacking in Packhams, it's a pity; it's helping Abate Fetel sales to be very fast," he said.

"We have done more sales of this type of pear than last year - it's a very important variety for Germany."

Prices were under pressure in March and April when there were big supplies from Chile, South Africa and Argentina but now wholesale prices have bounced back from €9.50 to €10 per 7 kilogram carton.

SFI Rotterdam Imports commercial manager Tim Schulz, said supermarkets were prepared to pay as they couldn't afford to have empty shelves.

"At the moment they can't allow themselves not to have pears in the shops, so if there's only half of the pears normally available they will pay high prices."

South African growers association Hortgro product manager Jacques du Preez, said he was pleased at the prospect of ending the pear season on a positive note.

"Hopefully, we will finish the season strongly. We will continue to export up to week 40."

So far South African pear exports have shown a 3% year-on-year decline with only 10% of the crop left to ship. Earlier in the season producers decided to reduce European exports because of oversupply fears electing to send more fruit for processing.

Related stories: South African growers pushing pears to processing

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