EU: Peach, nectarine volumes to decline but cherry production to soar
Peach and nectarine production in the European Union (EU) is set to fall by 21% during 2018-19 while production of sweet and sour cherries is expected to soar by 30%, according to a USDA forecast.
A USDA report pegged peach and nectarine production from the bloc's 28 member states at 3.5 million metric tons (MT) due to unfavorable weather conditions in most growing countries, including a with a "long winter and a wet and cold spring".
Cherry production is forecast to rise to 793,000MT, with a large proportion of the volume made up of sour cherries.
The main EU producers of peaches and nectarines are Spain, Italy, Greece and France, in this order. There is also limited production in other EU MS, including Hungary, Portugal, Bulgaria and Poland.
Italy used to be the EU’s largest producer but in recent years Spain has become the biggest producer and exporter due to its early season harvest and yielding varieties. Greece is the leading EU peach processor.
Spain is expected to see the biggest drop this year from 1.5 to 1.2 million MT, while Italy is set to fall from 1.4 to 1.2 million MT. Greece is expected to remain stable at just over 900,000MT.
The 30% increase forecast for cherry production during 2018-19 is driven by strong growth from Poland and Germany.
Poland is forecast to produce 200,000MT of sour cherries and 60,000MT of sweet cherries.
Spain is expected to overtake Italy in cherry production this year, with both countries expected to produce close to 100,000MT each.
Meanwhile, German cherry production is forecast to soar to 61,00MT, of which a little more than two-thirds is sweet cherry production. This is more than double the level of the previous year when devastating frost in mid-April 2017 ted to a record low production.