EU stone fruit to rise by 12% in 2023-24
EU peach and nectarine production is estimated to rise 12% year-on-year for the upcoming 2023-24 season, according to the USDA’s latest report.
In recent years, Spain and Italy decreased their growing areas due to a surplus of peach production that dropped prices and resulted in poor economic returns for farmers.
However, volumes are projected to rise to 3.6 million MT, mostly driven by a significant expected increase in Spain, the EU’s major stone fruit producer, that will offset declines in other member states.
Spain’s 2023 harvest will depend on water availability, as the country continues to struggle with severe drought after a very dry winter and spring.
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As for cherries, the EU is expected to see a 21% drop in production due to lower yields in the major producing countries such as Poland, Spain, Italy and Greece.
This comes after adverse weather conditions, namely rainfall that contributed to good, and in places even excessive, moisture in the topsoil during 2023’s first quarter.
Furthermore, a very cold spring and frosts in March and the first half of April inhibited the flowering of trees, further stalling production.
EU stone fruit producers, and the overall fruit sector, are concerned about the significant increase in regulations and requirements, particularly in plant health, environment, and packaging which have a direct impact on production costs.
Additionally, higher agricultural inputs costs and a lack of labor remain a concern.
The conflict in Ukraine drove inflation up, reducing purchase power and creating a downward trend for fresh fruit consumption in the EU.