WAPA releases 2014 pome fruit forecast
The European Union apple industry is set for higher production this year and a longer season, at a time when key export market Russia has been closed due to tensions with the trading bloc.
The latest World Apple and Pear Association (WAPA) has forecast a 9% rise in apple volumes to 11.89 million metric tons (MT), along with a 2% decrease in pear production to 2.27 million MT.
The association said that during the 2014 Prognosfruit conference held in Istanbul, Turkey, participants noted the coming crop in the European continent would be nicely balanced with a larger crop in the northern and central parts of the EU, and lower crops in southern EU states, the Balkans and Turkey.
"The coming season could consequently start on a positive note with very importantly no overlap of stocks from last season," a WAPA releases said.
"It was also noted that the excellent climatic conditions across Europe at the various critical times of the growing season, have combined to produce outstanding quality and maturity of the apples and pears grown in the EU this year.
"Sizes are larger than previous seasons, with fewer counts to be sold."
WAPA said experts reported the crop would be one week earlier this year than the average picking date, and three weeks earlier than harvests in 2013.
"This will have the effect of extending the marketing season," WAPA said.
In its release, WAPA did not appear too fazed by the situation of bans from Russia.
"Despite a number of market uncertainties due to the tense international geopolitical situation, the European sector is committed to address any market access challenges and at the same time to explore new opportunities within emerging markets or markets with reduced availability," WAPA said.
"The high quality of the crop will provide strong marketing advantages to gain new customers and consumers."
Apple forecast by variety and country
For apples, WAPA said the production was 12% higher than the three-year average, with a slight rise of 2% for leading variety Golden Delicious at 2.587 million MT.
In terms of volume ranking, the variety will be followed by Galas with 1.294 million MT (+7%), Idared with 1.096 million MT (+4%) and Red Delicious with 635,000MT (+6%).
The union's two leading apple-producers Poland and Italy are both expected to record strong rises of 12% and 13% respectively, with volumes of 3.5 million MT and 2.4 million MT.
These countries will be followed by France with 1.5 million MT (-6%) and Germany with one million MT (+29%).
Combined, these four nations make up 71% of the total EU apple crop.
WAPA also noted apple crops were set to rise in some countries this year, such as the U.S. (+11%), Russia (+4%) and the Ukraine (+10%), while production would be down in China (-7%), Turkey (-24%) and the Balkans (-31%).
Pear forecast by variety and country
While pear volume is set to be down 2% on last year, it will still only be 1% lower than the three-year average; this rate is keeping in line with the reduction expected for the community's most-grown variety, Conference, which is forecast to have 889,000MT worth of production.
In contrast, the Abate Fetel crop is expected to rise by 17% to 356,000MT, and William BC pears are due for a 9% drop to 256,000MT.
Italy, which accounts for almost a third of the EU pear crop, is expected to have a 3% fall in production to 707,000MT, and the second-largest growing nation Spain will have a greater fall of 8% to 371,000MT.
These two Mediterranean nations will be followed by the Netherlands with 336,000MT (+3%), Portugal with 176,000MT (+9%) and France with 135,000MT (-14%).
Elsewhere in the Northern Hemisphere crops will have either increased compared to last year, such as in U.S. (+0.3%), Russia (+4%) and Ukraine (+2%), or decreased, such as in China (-4%) and Turkey (-29%).