Chilean apple season delayed

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Chilean apple season delayed

This season's Chilean apple harvest could be delayed by 7-10 days with a shorter crop due to a combination of weather factors, at a time when Northern Hemisphere stocks are running low. manzana-y-media_53440609 _ panorama

Everfresh general manager Saed Abu-ghazaleh told the delay meant his company would start harvesting the first Royal Galas on Feb. 11, when normally this would take place on Feb. 4.

"During the flowering period in September it was very cloudy so they didn't get the sunlight they needed, and that also affected the fruit set," he said.

"But the volume is good and the sizing is good."

He added there were some hail events in Talca and Yerbas Buenas in the VII (Maule) region during December that had also impacted the crop.

"We had one grower who lost 50% of his crop and some other growers have told me they are in the same situation."

Rene Wunkhaus from Exportadora San Andres said his harvest would also normally start in the first week of February, but the same weather issues meant this could be postponed until the third or fourth week of the month. He added pear crops were also delayed.

"For red apples there is more potential that they will have lower production because of alternate bearing and it could also be because of the winter weather that was not too cold," he said.

"Crops will be normal for Gala and Fujis, but for others there will be less fruit. For Red Chief and Scarlett for example there will be a lot less fruit."

He said red apple sizing would be fairly large overall.

"While red apple volume will be down they will be in much larger sizes - I think between 100-113 count. I'd prefer they were smaller though because our markets are places like the Middle East and India, which want 100 count or less.

"Markets that prefer larger sizes are placed like Europe, and they are depressed economically. While Europe has lower stock that doesn’t mean that the market will be prepared to pay much higher prices."

Abu-ghazaleh was more upbeat about the prospects a European apple shortage presented for his company's key market, the Middle East.

"There are good opportunities for prices with less stock in Europe compared to other years, but for us the cost of production and the exchange rate is worse. I would say costs are about 15-20% higher."

A source close to warned the industry not to get carried away by charging prices that were too high.

"The market is extremely hot and demand is building up. Europe is going dry on apples and it’s the same on the U.S. East Coast; the only place where there will really be many apples now is on the U.S. West Coast.

"There is a lot of expectation but we will have to be careful. If you stretch it out too much it's going to break.

"If it's too expensive we would end up cutting our own throats, as instead of promoting all your sales you end up losing all your sales."




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