Apple production is set at 12.6 million metric tons (MT), which is a 36% increase over last year that saw severe spring frosts and a 3% rise above the 2014-16 average.
The pear crop is predicted at 2.3 million MT, putting it 4% higher than last year. Unlike apples, pears were not heavily affected by last year’s frosts.
The 2018 estimate was released today by WAPA at the Prognosfruit Conference in Warsaw, Poland, where close to 300 industry representatives met.
“The 2018 European apple and pear crop forecast estimates that most European countries are moving back to a full crop, after experiencing a severe setback last year due to April and early May frosts,” WAPA said in a release.
It said Europe had experienced a mild winter, no late frost, and limited impact of hail so far. Warmer conditions over the blossoming and fruit setting period have resulted in harvests being two weeks earlier than the average.
However, while WAPA said the drought and heat wave in several parts of Europe so far had limited impact on the crop, the size, and the overall quality, a “revision downwards of some of the figures” is expected over the coming weeks.
Poland is expecting a “strong” crop of around 4.5 million MT, with “average” crops expected in Italy and France.
“Stocks from last season are already cleared from the market and there is limited presence of Southern Hemisphere fruit, hence there will be no overhanging stocks on the market,” it said.
WAPA also expected “strong demand” from the processing industry, and highlighted the larger crop is part of a process of varietal diversification.
The group also pointed out that the large apple and pear crop need “to be held against a complex market access situation, given the
ongoing consequences of the Russian embargo as well as other market closures or restrictions in the Mediterranean basin.”
“Efforts to diversify the market and boost consumption need to continue,” it said.
However frosts in China could open up opportunities in that market, WAPA said. The U.S. has also been hit with increased tariffs going into China and Mexico, with India possibly doing the same from mid-September, which could create more demand for European apples.