NZ apple growers enjoy a positive season
Yummy Fruit Company sales and marketing representative Aaron Knowles told www.freshfruitportal.com he was feeling positive about the coming months despite lower production.
"The season's going quite well, all the fruit has been harvested, it's all off the trees. The overall crop is looking slightly down on previous years, but the fruit size is up and the quality's looking pretty good."
Yummy Fruit specializes in the domestic New Zealand market, with less than 20% of its total crop exported. Knowles said this way of operating had its own unique advantages compared with conventional export-focused producers.
"I wouldn’t say it's easier but it's probably a bit more controlled. You’re dealing with people day to day, face to face rather than someone the other side of the world," he said.
"We've got a program that stores fruit for 12 months of the year, whereas most growers only work for around six months to move their product overseas, so it's a totally different business model and obviously has its different challenges."
In contrast to Yummy Fruit's low trade volumes, Apollo Apples exports around 95% of its total production, and has reported a similarly good season.
"We've had a very favorable year from a climate point of view, so everything’s gone very smoothly for us," said an Apollo representative.
"Volumes are slightly back on last year, but last year was a very high production year so production's probably normal as opposed to down, it’s just following a very big year."
He said Apollo had a strong presence in North America and Europe, and was seeing increasing shipments to key Asian regions like the Middle East and South East Asia.
The company's main competition comes from Chile, which also exports to the same markets as Apollo.
Chilean apples growers, however, have recently experienced one of the worst seasons in the last couple of decades regarding production and fruit sizing, due to severe winter frosts followed by excessively high summer temperatures.
This has contributed to Apollo's export markets being very strong this year due to lack of volume.
The company also says around 40% of total crop is made up of Royal Gala apples, and it is currently changing the production levels of other varieties it produces according to which are more popular in emerging markets.
"We are increasing the production and the percentage of exports that goes to the Middle East and Asia and their preference is for certain varieties," said the Apollo representative.
"So if you take varieties like Braeburn, that is only really suited to the U.K., certain parts of Europe, and North America. We sell no Braeburn in Asia or the Middle East, and so we're not really increasing our volume of Braeburn as we're trying to increase apples we grow for those markets."
Apollo Apples has recently been acquired by Turners & Growers, and forecasts a significant increase in production over the next few years.
Related story: Chilean apple size 'worst in 17 years', says exporter