France: Oscar-branded kiwifruit volumes recover

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France: Oscar-branded kiwifruit volumes recover

French kiwifruit shipper Prim'land says production levels of its Oscar-branded fruit have returned to normal after a decline related to weather and disease issues. kiwi_oscar_gamme_range-1024x683

The company's managing director Jean-Baptiste Pinel told volumes from the country would likely reach around 15,000 metric tons (MT) this season.

"We had some weather issues - a lot of rain for two years - and also we had a Psa attack, but now we’ve sorted everything out some we’ve come back to normal production," he said, adding volumes last year were about 1,000MT lower.

Pinel said conditions during 2016 had been favorable, with a bit of rain and warm weather toward the end of the growing season resulting in high fruit quality.

Production is set to increase over the coming years, he added.

"We expect it to rise as we are renovating hectares and planting some new ones. Of course it takes three to five years for fruit to come into production, but in general the trend is positive and increasing," he said.

Yellow kiwifruit marketed under the OSCARGOLD brand yielded a harvest of 300MT this year, and the representative said steady growth was expected in the coming years.

Prim'land also grows an early green variety branded as SUMMERKIWI, which is picked in early October. Volumes reached 600MT this campaign are due to remain stable.

The company sells around half of its crop on the European market, with much of the rest shipped to Asia and smaller volumes to North and South America.

This year will see the first ever shipments of French kiwifruit to the Vietnamese market.

"The market has strong potential because there are nearly 100 million and the consumers like sweet fruit, and Oscar kiwifruit is very sweet," he said.

The company is also expanding its presence 'step by step' in China, to which Pinel said it gained access in 2010 and now sells in the cities of Shanghai, Guangzhou and Beijing. Taiwan and Thailand are also key Asian markets for Prim'land.

Pinel said he was expected a positive marketing season in general this year as the New Zealand deal was not finishing up too late - as he said was often the case - and European production is not particularly high.

"We're optimistic the market will be okay," he said, adding competition with Italian kiwifruit was normally minimal as France sold more of a premium product.

This year Chilean growers produced 4,000MT of Oscar-branded kiwifruit, and Pinel said the transition over to French fruit had been smooth with the South American sales in Europe wrapping up in October.

There are also some new plantings in Chile, but Pinel said work was still being carried out to establish which varieties would best adapt to the country's climatic and soil conditions.

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