Early pear imports expected in Europe next season

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Early pear imports expected in Europe next season

A large pear importer has predicted Europe's pear undersupply will mean Southern Hemisphere exports will get off to a flying start in 2013.

Total Produce apple and pear category manager for Ireland Kevin Finn, said a shortage of European supply was an issue.

"We will have to start Southern Hemisphere pear imports early. I would say about eight weeks earlier than normal."

He said his company normally starts importing pears from Chile, Argentina and South Africa in February, receiving high volumes in April.

However, he expects next season this will change with Total Produce importing on a large scale from February.

C G Timmermans international trade manager Erik Goedvolk, said shortages of European fruit were affecting prices but was uncertain about how this would impact on forthcoming Southern Hemisphere imports.

"It depends on how sales of European crops go. Normally we start selling below a euro per kilo; at the moment prices are far above this and we have clients saying they aren't interested because it's too expensive."

He said pear prices this month in the wholesale and retail market were about 25 cents more per kilo, compared with the same period the previous year.

Cobana Fruchtring pear category manager Felix Sperl, said it was difficult to predict how Southern Hemisphere imports would be influenced.

"It is not easy to say if it will affect us or what will happen in the next three to six months. "

He said the market had been taken by surprise last season with the strong demand for South African Packham's, despite a glut of Italian Abate pears in Europe.

Europe's poor weather with too much rain in the early stages of pear development followed by hot temperatures further down the line has reduced the continent's domestic supply significantly.

Finn said Portuguese and Russian pear crops were down by 65% this year, while Goedvolk estimated European volumes of Conference and Cornice pears were around 30% lower.

Finn predicted there would be a severe shortage of apples in the new year as European growers were opting to sell fruit immediately rather than store it.

"The prices have been very high and lots of growers are picking, packing and selling. They are getting very good prices. There will be less in cold storage. The stocks in Europe are going to be very low in January and February."

In particular, he said there would be a paucity of Royal Galas and Granny Smiths in the first two months of 2013.

Related stories: European apple shortage leads to steep price hikes


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