Argentina apple exporters look to "regain ground in Brazilian market"
As Argentina's 2017 pome fruit campaign gets underway, an industry representative is anticipating a relatively "normal" season and expects apple growers to regain ground in the Brazilian market.
Argentine Chamber of Integrated Fruit Growers (CAFI) executive director Marcelo Loyarte told Fresh Fruit Portal apple and pear production would likely be similar to last season, which ended up on 1.1 million metric tons (MT).
"For apples we started the harvest with Royal Gala about [two weeks ago] and so far everything is indicating it will be a normal campaign. The apple and pear industry has its objectives clear," he said.
"This season it is likely there will be fewer pears, and apples will be roughly similar."
The fruit quality is anticipated to be average, "except for some very isolated areas where there were some frosts and other areas where there was hail."
As for the markets, Loyarte said a key focus on the apple industry this campaign would be neighboring Brazil, which in the middle of the 2015 season closed its doors to Argentine pome fruit citing numerous pest detections.
"We expect the markets to behave reasonably well. In the case of apples, the expectation is to regain ground in the Brazilian market," he said.
Along with the Portuguese-speaking country, Argentina's main pome fruit markets include Russia, Europe and the U.S. The representative said shipments of traditional varieties to the latter should be arriving within a month.
"Pears have already left for Russia and Europe, and there have been some initial shipments to the U.S.," he said.
Issues like exchange rates remain challenging for the industry and continue to keep a lid on international competitiveness.
"Our costs in dollars are high, and while last year there was an adjustment in the exchange rate, the adjustment ended with a high rate of inflation and increased internal costs, so in the end we still lacked competitiveness," he said.
"By having an exchange rate that is so out-of-step with our competitors in the Southern Hemisphere, when we reach the markets we have far higher costs and our profitability is significantly lower."
He did not believe there would be any substantial change in the exchange rate any time soon, and so emphasized the need to find ways of lowering internal costs.
Loyarte said that the Mexican Government had recently announced it would allow a certain amount of Argentine apples into the country tariff-free. While it was still to be seen exactly what the quota would be, he was optimistic the development would create a good opportunity for exporters.
Around 70% of Argentine pear production is due for export, while the figure is just 30% for apples.