A representative of Argentina’s apple industry is optimistic for a good season this year, although concerns abound around profit margins.
Argentine Chamber of Integrated Fruit Growers (CAFI) executive director Marcelo Loyarte told Fresh Fruit Portal fruit quality has been good with the help of weather conditions, while a similar volume is expected to last year’s crop.
“The season kicked off very well,” he said, noting the sector shipped to 42 markets worldwide including the EU, Russia and the United States.
Loyarte said the season started of in February and would run until July as far as non-Latin American markets are concerned, but within the region trade takes place 12 months a year.
Closer to home, in February Brazil blocked imports of Argentine apples due to interceptions of fruit with codling moth larvae, but the problem has been addressed and the situation is reportedly getting back to normal.
“As everyone knows we had an interruption of 10 days for exportation to Brazil, but now it’s slowly returning to normal and we’ll see how the other markets develop from here on,” Loyarte said.
“But there are good expectations with respect to the apple season,” he added.
However, he noted the country was facing issues with competitiveness and uncertainty around exchange rates.
The value of the Argentine peso has fallen in half over the past year, and while this ought to help exports in theory, the sector still depends on agricultural inputs from overseas.
Last year inflation reached a whopping 47.6% in the South American country.
“Day to day, the issue of profit margins doesn’t allow…that the activity of producing and trading fruit is profitable…except for a few special cases and for certain markets,” Loyarte said.
“There are growers that have stopped producing and are dedicating themselves to other crops, like alfalfa and in some cases corn.”
The industry representative said work would continue on opening up new markets, but the core focus would be on strengthening Argentina’s position in markets where fruit is already traded.
Part of this includes improving the viability of the sector through the adoption of technology, such as anti-hail systems.