European apple season looking positive following "emblematic" year - FreshFruitPortal.com

European apple season looking positive following "emblematic" year

There is optimism for the European apple season now getting underway following a challenging 2019-20 campaign, according to Italian apple consortium VOG.

The organization said that the ending season will be remembered for the large drop in volumes across Europe and above all for the market upheavals triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, the season which has just begun shows "every sign of being one of consolidation", it said.

The total European crop is expected to fall slightly year-on-year, but VOG is expecting a recovery in terms of sizes, which are set to return to normal. 

“2020-2021 looks like being a positive season, especially for our Consortium, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year. This major milestone underlines the length of our experience, which we combine with a constant determination and flair for innovation and renewal,” comments Walter Pardatscher, CEO of VOG.

”The season that is just ending was emblematic from this point of view: the arrival of Covid-19 demanded quick reactions to deal with a fast-changing scenario, initially in terms of organisation and then with regard to consumption patterns. Our cooperatives showed the ability to respond fast and effectively: we succeeded in planning the season well with continual changes, adapting to events as they happened. This gives us great confidence.” 

At the European level, according to the estimates published by Prognosfruit, a very small reduction of around 1% is forecast for 2020, following on from the much larger decrease in 2019.

“Europe-wide, supply should be in line with potential demand again this year, which is definitely a positive signal,” Pardatscher continues.

“In South Tyrol - Südtirol the estimates indicate a reduction of about 7%, meaning a crop of about 825,000 tonnes, with considerable growth in organic apples and a decrease in those intended for the food industry”.

For its member cooperatives, the VOG Consortium is forecasting a table apple crop of about 510,000 tonnes, a little lower than last year, with a reduction of -3%, and obviously below the record year of 2016, when the figure exceeded 600,000 tonnes. 

The first apples to be harvested this year have again been the Royal Gala, beginning earlier than usual. The first pallets were actually offered for sale during the week of August 15.

Ripeness and color are good, thanks in part to the weather conditions in July, with ideal temperatures and excellent day-night temperature variation. Sizes are larger than in 2019, in line with the average for a normal year, an important factor for markets such as Italy and Spain. 
 
Taking a detailed look at the estimates for the individual varieties, this year the Consortium is again recording a reduction in Golden Delicious.

"As forecast, and in line with our strategy in terms of varieties, this year the Golden Delicious crop will fall to 87,500 tonnes, meaning 14.5% less than in 2019, when there was already a 15% drop in production of this variety,” the VOG CEO continues.

“As in previous years, Royal Gala apples will be the lead variety for our group in volume terms, with output of about 125,000 tonnes (+8%) this year. Red Delicious and Granny Smith will also be on the increase, as so far they have suffered less from brown marmorated stink bug damage than last year.” 

Turning to Club apples, crop sizes are on the rise for Pink Lady and Kanzi, and for newer apples, increasingly popular with the market, such as envy and yello, with the entry into production of the orchards planted in the last few years in accordance with the varietal planning drawn up by VOG. 

Last but not least some details regarding the organic apples: this year’s crop, of almost 30,000 tonnes, will surge by 40% compared to 2019. “We’re planning to reach a total of 1000 hectares by 2022 and are well on track for this target, confirming the Consortium’s interest in organic and biodynamic growing methods,” comments Walter Pardatscher.  

The VOG Consortium is therefore optimistic regarding the season that has just begun.

“The market is free from inventory that could have overlapped with the new crop of fresh apples, so everything is in place for trouble-free business in this initial part of the season,” the VOG CEO concludes.

“Thanks to our varietal programming plans, we’re ready to supply our customers and consumers with the right apple for every time of year."