Italian apple cooperative VOG says sales in the European market are seeing an "upturn" following a tricky start to the season.
It said the early season was "shrouded in doubt" due to the record production on the continent and the "excessively high retail prices" following the poor harvest of the previous season, but the early January markets were showing signs of improvement.
“Compared with the market situation in the autumn, sales in the first weeks of January suggested an upward trend," said Gerhard Dichgans, director of VOG.
"From 1 February the stocks in our storage facilities will be about 10% down compared with two years ago. In fact, we have to exclude last season from this comparison given that the 2017 harvest in Europe was largely unprofitable.”
In recent weeks, demand has centred around Royal Gala - which has been particularly popular in the Middle East - and the Red Delicious, which represents a big opportunity particularly for the Indian market given the lack of products arriving from the U.S., VOG said.
Granny Smith has also enjoyed an upturn in demand but demand for the Golden Delicious remains "below expectations". However, VOG said that stocks of this latter variety are down 30% compared with 2016 and so there is "no need for alarm".
Similarly, stocks of the Fuji and Braeburn are down 20% but, like every year, the market is still waiting for an upturn in demand in February and March.
“Another positive aspect at this stage of the campaign is the retail price which, having returned to normal levels, is now extremely attractive to the final consumer," he said.
The demand for club apples - of which the most important are Pink Lady and Kanzi - goes along with expectations. In the coming weeks they will be supported by many promotional activities.
Demand from German supermarkets is also recovering after a very quiet autumn caused by the high production levels of private gardens in Germany.
As such, the signs for the next few months of the campaign look promising, VOG said.