Less Onion Supply Means Strong Pricing To Stay For The Season

Onion supplies for 2022-2023 look to be more limited than this time last year. “We have operations in Washington and our crop is lighter this year. There were weather issues in the Washington growing and harvesting period and that’s affected yields,” says Matthew Gideon of Keystone Fruit Marketing, a division of Progressive Produce. “We expect to wrap up our Washington season by the end of January which is about a month or so earlier than normal.”

Along with Washington, the other major growing region is Idaho-Oregon and other regions are also shipping including Michigan, New York and Canada.

At the same time, Gideon notes that sweet onion supplies are also coming from Peru. “We expect from our farms to have steady supplies through the holidays and into the spring Mexican onion season,” he says. “The quality is very nice and the logistics component, which was a big challenge last year, has moved out this year. From an onion supply standpoint, we’re optimistic for a good selling period.” The Peruvian sweet onion season starts in July and goes through to February.

Demand outpacing supply
As for demand, Gideon says it’s been a year where demand has exceeded supply. “Demand for staple items like potatoes and onions has been strong,” he says. “The markets have reflected that. They are higher than average all year and with the issues in the Northwest, I would expect the same lower-than-average supply and higher-than-average demand for the rest of the year.”

The earlier end to the Washington season though won’t necessarily mean a gap in supplies. “Now that the supply report is out and there are fewer supplies, most grower-shippers will start allocating product and have less supply for the spot or open market. It won’t create a gap but it will just keep prices strong and potentially increase prices again in the spring onion season,” says Gideon.

He notes that the pricing on onions in the late summer rose to approximately $20/bag, a number that’s considered record-level. “That has settled down to $14/$15/bag right now and I expect that to remain steady to spring,” he says.

From Fresh Plaza

Strawberry Demand Pushes Up Prices

Strawberry demand remains strong, and California growers may not be able to keep up with it thanks to recent weather problems.

In an October 25 crop report, Markon Cooperative BB #:123315 said its inspectors predict lower-than-normal volume through November, which will keep prices high.

Markon gave a rundown by region:

Santa Maria/Oxnard

The Santa Maria/Oxnard growing region currently produces roughly 80 percent of marketed strawberries in the U.S. Supplies are extremely limited and unable to meet demand through most of November. Quality is average; strawberries will see upwards of 25% bruising and 4% decay upon arrival. Maintaining the cold chain will be vital for shelf-life; Markon recommends ordering for quick turns.

Salinas/Watsonville

The Salinas/Watsonville growing region currently produces roughly 10-15 percent of marketed strawberries in the U.S. Volume is extremely limited; quality is average at best. Production will be completed in the next 10-14 days.

South Texas

Volume is very low as the season is just beginning. Currently less than 5 percent of strawberries marketed in the U.S. are grown in Mexico and shipped from South Texas. Volume is expected to gradually increase over the next two to three weeks. Quality is good; green shoulders and small sizing have been reported.

Florida

Production will begin after Thanksgiving in a very limited manner. Orders are estimated to begin shipping the week of December 5.

From Blue Book Services

GLOBAL MARKET OVERVIEW ONIONS

Volumes of onion are down this winter in many countries, with a decrease of up to 40% in Spain, and less significant but still notable losses in Germany, France and the United States, among others. Large sizes are particularly hard to find, and this lack of supply has driven up the prices across much of the global market. This could be good news for the growers, who are also facing higher production costs, but it remains to be seen whether consumers will be willing to pay these prices, although demand appears to be holding up for now.

Netherlands: All eyes on second half of season
“It is a controversial year,” a Dutch exporter says of the onion market. “Demand is still lagging behind this period compared to previous years. This is especially evident in the Asian market. Whereas in previous years we were able to sell large volumes to the Philippines, among others, we are now too firm on the price to compete with Chinese onions. Everything this year also shows the role of the Dutch onion on the global market; namely the gap filler. As long as local harvests are sufficient, Dutch exports will remain too expensive to fill the gaps. All eyes are therefore on the second half of the season. Whereas in previous years the transition of the busy period occurred only after the turn of the year, the trader expects the busy period to increase earlier due to higher demand mainly from southern and eastern Europe. “You notice that most of the yield problems have taken place in these regions,” he said.

Germany: Drought affects volumes and quality
Due to a lack of rainfall and persistent drought, the German onion harvest is quite disappointing this year, a large cooperation says. “We have already received good enquiries for large sizes from Eastern Europe, but unfortunately we have not been able to satisfy them. Accordingly, we are now focusing on supplying the domestic market.

The weather conditions this year have also led to a decline in the quality of the yellow onions. “After weeks of drought, it started raining at harvest time, which is why we had to postpone harvesting. Due to small sizing and quality problems, there will be considerably less storable produce this year. Until February-March we will probably be able to fulfil the retail programs in the 40-60/35-55 grading, but from April on goods will be scarce.”

Austria: Good export situation
The Austrian onion market is in stable condition. A sufficient supply meets a satisfactory sales situation. Exports in particular are doing very well. Domestic sales are quiet but steady, as usual for the season. The price level of the previous week was overall continued. At the beginning of the week, prices for onions, cleaned and sorted in boxes, were still mostly 30 to 35 euros per 100 kg, depending on size and quality.

France: Sales delayed by summer weather 
A marked deficit for the harvest on all French territory can be observed at the moment. Particularly affected are large and very large sizes, with a deficit of 15 to 20%. As far as sales are concerned, sales are following the weather. Today’s summer weather, while it is autumn, is delaying onion sales without blocking consumption, for both yellow and red onions. A consumption which would be more dynamic with a cooler weather. Prices remain high compared to previous campaigns due to various factors such as energy costs, packaging and transport.

Italy: Lack of product pushes prices up
A major onion trader in northern Italy says sales are normal in terms of quantity, but prices are quite high. In recent days, the Borsa Merci Bologna has established a range of 0.55 to 0.73 €/kg for packaged in 5 or 10 kg bags, depending on the type of onion. Prices would be very high in the case of a normal year, but because of production costs they are fair to repay the producer and packer. The trader says that retailers have not yet realized enough that, starting in March, the availability of Italian onions will be very scarce. Already offers of onions are arriving from Germany at prices around 0.42-0.45 €/kg.

This year’s niche onion season in the inland areas of Sicily ended the first week of September, and it was a very unusual year because of the drought, which was far from satisfactory. “We were without rainfall from December until May,” complained one producer. “The transplants, which took place in January, forced us to irrigate as early as a few days after planting, with great effort on the economic level due to the cost of energy for pumping irrigation water. The growth of our “Cipolla Paglina di Castrofilippo” was penalized in terms of sizes, despite the relief irrigation interventions. Sizes in a normal season, in fact, range from 1 to 2 kg per individual onion. This year only 20 percent achieved a size close to 1 kg; 40 percent achieved a size between 300 and 400 grams; and the remaining 40 percent had a size of 50 grams. This is a huge loss that has caused the producer price to skyrocket to 1 €/kg on average, while it normally sells between 0.40 and 0.50 €/kg.”

More than 19 million households in Italy buy onions at least once a year. Yellow onions have the highest share reaching almost 36 percent; red ones rank second exceeding 26 percent; white ones exceed 21 percent. They are then followed in order by: leeks, Borretana onions and shallots. Onions are sold either by variable weight (loose) or by imposed weight (in nets). The preferred channels of purchase are supermarkets. As for organic, variable-weight onions are purchased to date by about 2.2 million Italian households, a decrease of more than 13 percent compared to the previous 12 months

Spain: Good prices, but up to 40% less onions
Spanish onions have been selling at a good pace and with good prices since the start of the season.

The 2022/2023 onion campaign has so far been very different compared to the previous one, which was really ruinous. The demand is stable and the drop of around 40% in the onion production in Spain, as well as in the rest of Europe, led to an increase in prices. Unlike last season, when average prices ranged between 8 and 10 eurocents per kilo, this year large-caliber onions cost between 35 and 37 eurocents per kilo, while medium calibers cost between 25 and 30 eurocents per kilo.

Last year, prices did not allow growers to cover the production costs, but this year it has so far been possible. In just one year, the cost of producing a kilo of onions has shot up to 25 cents. The large sizes are the most demanded, as they are the most scarce throughout Europe. In fact, it is going to be very difficult to find sizes between 60 and 80.

The harvest of the Grano de Oro onion, the one with the longest shelf life, has just finished. Although the rains in March and April prevented the onion from being sown at the usual time in Castile-La Mancha (the main producing region in Spain), the dry weather and abundant hours of sunshine that followed has not only brought forward the end of the harvest, but has also had a very positive influence on the storage quality of the onions, and it has also had an impact on the sizes and yields.

The acreage, yields and calibers have been reduced in all producing areas of Europe. The exit of Ukraine from the market due to the war has also had a noticeable impact and resulted in a below normal onion supply. In recent years, the onion acreage had recorded a significant expansion in Ukraine, surpassing even that of Spain, so its absence in the market is being felt strongly. Its onions used to supply the Eastern European and Asian markets and had a good skin quality and flavor. Meanwhile, Romania’s production continues to increase.

35-40% of the sales of fresh Spanish onions go to the domestic market and around 30% is exported, mainly to the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Portugal, Italy and Morocco, among other destinations. The rest goes to the processing industry.

South Africa: Prices at record high
It’s an interesting onion season for South Africa: prices are at record highs, as much as triple last year: around R10 per kilogram, because much fewer onions were planted.

It was a difficult onion season last year, with weak prices, plus all manner of input costs – fertilizer, fuel, labour, transport and packaging – have sharply increased, coupled with water constraints & disease pressure in certain areas, and altogether in some areas 20% to 30% fewer onions were planted, and now the market has half the usual volumes.

The market is transitioning at the moment from onions grown in Limpopo Province to the Northern Cape and western Free State.

It’s expected that onion prices will remain strong up to Christmas, which is usually one of the strongest onion sales periods in the year.

India: Prices and sales down for Indian onions
Currently the benchmark onion price at Lasalgaon, Maharashtra is Rs 1,220 / 100 kgs, down 20% from a year ago, and way lower than the last three years’ seasonal average of Rs 2,354 / 100 kgs. Rabi onion harvested during April – June accounts for around 65% of the country’s onion production and meets the consumer’s demand till the kharif crop is harvested in October-November. Kharif harvested onions are not stored because of higher moisture content thus entering the market directly. Onion prices do not witness a sharp spike in October or November as they used to a couple of years back, as production has increased along with storage infrastructure

North America: Lower supply and higher demand expected to continue
Onion supplies for 2022-2023 look to be more limited than this time last year. “We have operations in Washington and our crop is lighter this year. There were weather issues in the Washington growing and harvesting period and that’s affected yields,” says one shipper. “We expect to wrap up our Washington season by the end of January which is about a month or so earlier than normal.”

Along with Washington, the other major growing region is Idaho-Oregon and other regions are also shipping including Michigan, New York and Canada.

At the same time, the shipper notes that sweet onion supplies are also coming from Peru. “We expect to have steady supplies through the holidays and into the spring Mexican onion season,” he says. “The quality is very nice and the logistics component, which was a big challenge last year, has improved this year. From an onion supply standpoint, we’re optimistic for a good selling period.” The Peruvian sweet onion season starts in July and goes through to February. 

As for demand, the shipper says it’s been a year where demand has exceeded supply. “Demand for staple items like potatoes and onions has been strong,” he says. “The markets have reflected that. They are higher than average all year and with the issues in the Northwest, I would expect the same lower than average supply and higher than average demand for the rest of the year.”

The earlier end to the Washington season though won’t necessarily mean a gap in supplies. “Now that the supply report is out and there are less supplies, most grower-shippers will start allocating product and have less supply for the spot or open market. It won’t create a gap but it will just keep prices strong and potentially increase prices again in the spring onion season,” he says.

He notes that pricing onions in the late summer rose to approximately $20/bag, a number that’s considered record-level. “That has settled down to $14/$15/bag right now and I expect that to remain steady to spring,” he says.

Peru: Colombia becomes the second main destination for Peruvian onions, displacing Spain
In the last National Survey of Planting Intentions (ENIS), it was already predicted that for the 2022-2023 agricultural campaign, the areas planted with onions would be reduced by 5.8% in Peru. According to the ENIS, this crop, along with potato, rice and carrot crops, which have a lower sowing intention, is where the distribution of urea would be prioritized, which is expected to contribute to balancing the sown area and thus reduce the impact. In this regard, the Ministry of Agricultural Development and Irrigation (Midagri), through the Rural Agricultural Productive Development Program (Agro Rural), finally announced the award of the international purchase of nitrogenous urea, which will arrive in the country in December; “too late”, as different voices in the industry have pointed out.

And the export figures for this commodity, whose low unit price makes it even more difficult to deal with the increase in logistics costs, already reflect the complexity of this new scenario in which, as one exporter had come to say, “the freight of the onions would cost more than the produce itself.” Peruvian onion exports have experienced a setback in their shipments, which between January and August have totalled 41.9 million dollars FOB, showing a 4.4% drop in value compared to the same period last year, according to figures shared by Sunat, breaking in 2022 the continuous growth trend that shipments have been following since 2017.

In addition, the high logistics costs have led to the prioritization of the closest destinations for the Peruvian product; something that reflects the export statistics available to that date and shared by an important Peruvian consulting firm.

The United States remains the main destination for Peru’s onion exports with a 65% share of the FOB price, but in the first months of the year, Colombia – which shares a border with the country – has increased its purchases of Peruvian onions until occupying the second position with a participation of 19% displacing Spain, which goes back one position in the ranking of main destinations for the Peruvian vegetable with a participation of 11%; At the end of last year, let’s remember, exports to Spain represented 21% of the FOB value, while Colombian exports only represented 10%.

Oceania: Normal season for Australian onions, New Zealand still feeling effects of pandemic
Australian onions are expected to be back to full production levels this season. An industry body representative noted that onion acreage in Australia is fairly steady and the number of hectares planted this season was similar to last year. She said: “Queensland was hit with wet weather just after planting, which caused some issues. However, the rest of the country is on track for a normal season. Queensland is about to come online in approx. 4-6 weeks with fresh product, the markets are looking quite good at this stage.” The peak industry body is not expecting any issues regarding storage quality at this stage.

In New Zealand for the year ending June 30 2021, according to the most recent figures, the export value for onions was $145million, with 56 per cent sent to two markets; Continental Europe $49m and Indonesia $33m. That was a slight decline of $148million, with the impacts of COVID-19 affecting all of the horticulture sector through labour supply, disrupted supply chains, and disrupted food services. However, volume was slightly higher from 2020, from 190,169 tonnes to 208,133 tonnes. The three most predominant council areas in NZ growing onions were Auckland, Waikato and Canterbury.

From Fresh Plaza

Japanese Fruit Importers Struggle Due To Weak Yen

Japanese companies sourcing products from overseas have been hit hard by the depreciation of the yen. The Funasho Shoji company, based in central Tokyo, is one of them. It imports oranges, grapes and other fruit from the United States and South America. The importer says melons from California are particularly popular because they are cheaper than those grown in Japan. The firm imports them from late summer to autumn.

But the price Funasho Shoji has to pay for this key product has shot up because of the weakening of the yen. That has come on top of sharp increases due to soaring labor costs in the US and falling crop yields caused by droughts.

The company says it is negotiating over price increases with the wholesalers it supplies. But it said it presents a dilemma because higher retail prices could dampen consumer demand.

From Fresh Plaza

ASOEX Cherry Committee’s First Estimate For The 2022-2023 Season

Chilean Fresh Cherry Exports Are Expected To Increase by 25%

According to the ASOEX Cherry Committee’s first estimate for the 2022-2023 export season, Chile will increase its shipments of fresh cherries by 25% over the previous season. Thus, Chile will export 89,353,878 boxes of fresh cherries, equivalent to 446,769 tons.

This forecast collects data provided between September 27 and October 6, 2022, so there may be some changes during the season, which will be reported by the entity in due course.

“Last season was one of the most complicated seasons that our country’s fresh fruit export sector has ever experienced. That’s why we’ve been working together with the Ministry of Agriculture, the SAG, Chinese authorities, producers, and exporters so we can quickly solve in a coordinated manner any problem that may arise in this new season. China will continue to be the main destination market for our cherries, but we will continue to diversify our exports to other markets of interest,” stated Ivan Marambio, president of ASOEX.

“We’ve worked with China on a protocol that will allow us to ensure better exports and we’ve discussed the necessary solutions to generate faster and faster processes with all the actors in the logistics chain (both public and private) so that we can export a record volume of cherries this season. We have also asked our authorities to prioritize exports of perishable products, such as our fruits, to ensure that they aren’t affected by logistical setbacks, thus contributing to food security in Chile and the world.”

The president of the Cherry Committee, Cristian Tagle, highlighted the quality of the fruit: “In general, we’ve had good weather conditions so we’ll have very good quality fruit. As a committee, we have conscientiously prepared ourselves in various areas to further improve the quality and safety of our shipments. Fortunately, we see a slight rebound in the performance of the logistics chain that we hope will be reflected in better conditions and the market’s confidence in our cherry.”

Tagle also said that they would continue to boost exports during the 2022-2023 campaign with strong promotional programs, which contemplate a mix of marketing actions, especially in China, but also in other markets such as the US, Korea, Thailand, India, and Vietnam.

Finally, Claudia Soler, the manager of the committee, said that, according to the information they received, exports are expected to begin in week 43 and should last until week 7. Soler recalled that Chile exported 356,348 tons of fresh cherries during the past season and that shipments to China had amounted to 313,237 tons.

From Fresh Plaza

Global Market Overview Mandarins

The global mandarin market is a mixed bag at the moment. Low volumes combined with good demand for the citrus on many markets have meant the season has started with unusually high prices in countries such as the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Spain, as well as North America. However, these high prices are offset by increases in the cost of production, and there are concerns that the current economic crisis affecting consumers may mean they aren’t prepared to pay these higher prices. This has caused much uncertainty on the market, despite a generally positive outlook for the season, and at the moment it is hard to tell what way the markets will swing.

Netherlands: Good demand for Spanish mandarins
The Spanish mandarin season is off to a good start in the Netherlands. “There is good demand. There are few overseas mandarins on the market and that is definitely helping the demand for the Spanish trade,” said a Dutch importer. Traditionally, the Satsuma (Iwasaki) mandarins are not quite up to colour yet, but are flavourful. The ethnic target group in particular is enthusiastic about them.”

Harvesting of the Clemenrubi (with leaf) and Oronules has also started. Production of the Clemenrubi and Oronules is lower than other years. A slightly larger harvest than last year is expected for the Clemenules, but then 2021 was a year with significantly lower production than previous years. A normal harvest is expected for the Clemenvilla, Tango and Nadorcott varieties.

Belgium: High prices, but uncertainty for rest of season
Since early October, the first varieties of Spanish Clemenrubi and Oronules have entered the market in Belgium and demand is currently outstripping availability. “For now, prices are significantly higher compared to last season. This is mainly because costs have gone up tremendously throughout the chain and there is less fruit available,” says a trader. “Due to the hot, dry summer in Spain, volumes are lower than other years and there are also few large sizes available at the moment. Clemenrubi in particular has suffered qualitatively from the drought problems. Oronules are, in terms of taste, the best variety, we note. How the rest of the season will unfold is impossible to tell. The difficulties for growers, combined with difficult to predict consumer behaviour, may start to mark the citrus season. For clementines with leaf, I do expect good demand to persist in Belgium, because of the freshness guaranteed in the process.”

Germany: Less clementines than last year and restrained demand 
An importer from South Germany says that there will be less product this year than last year, especially with early clementines as well as the late varieties such as Nadorcott or Tango. However, for classic clementines, which are mainly Clemenules varieties, there will be sufficient quantities. There are also no problems with regards to the production, but rather with prices.

Another importer currently sources clementines from Spain and South Africa. He claims that the Spanish product is not yet of satisfactory quality. At the same time, he also purchases clementines from South Africa with good quality. In general, he is able to sell around 100 to 200kg per week. Demand is currently still restrained, with interest sometimes fluctuating more towards stone fruits and then again more towards citrus fruits. 

In the organic sector, mainly Spanish Clemenules are now traded, as well as Satsumas. The price of the Clemenules is around 3 euros per kilo in the purchase, the availability of goods is particularly good with a seasonal, normal demand. Spanish satsumas are said to be not very popular in the organic sector and people prefer to wait for the first good early clementines.

France: Increase in energy costs causes fears for mandarin season
The South-African clementine campaign has just ended and importers started the season of Spanish clementines and mandarins two weeks ago. The volumes will increase from next week and the Corsican origin should enter the market in a few days, even if some operators already started with some early varieties last week. 

This year, the campaign looks promising in terms of production but marketing is likely to be a challenge. In volume and quality, the season should be very good. There were some heatwaves this year but they were controlled in the orchards. However, the economic situation is likely to be a problem. The increase in energy costs is such that operators cannot make any mistakes. All the merchandise distributed will have to be of impeccable quality. Operators cannot take the risk of having their merchandise rejected in a context where the costs of fuel, energy and production have exploded.

Italy: Big margins unlikely for Italian mandarin season due to economic crisis
Mandarins and clementines are among the most popular fruits appreciated by consumers and there is a strong seasonal component to their purchase, with the greatest importance between October and March. During the high seasonality period, on average, the category is purchased 2-3 times a month. The most relevant distribution channels for the category are supermarkets and fruit and vegetable shops.

“This season, lower yields leave more margin for quality production, but we are in a phase of market uncertainty. We proceeded with the harvest of Miyagawa mandarins with prices in line with the previous year. Now we will have to wait until early December to start with the mandarin-like Nova,’ reports a Sicilian producer. “Consumers shy away in times of crisis, so we do not expect big margins. Last year, on the contrary, we achieved average prices between 0.60 and 0.70 euro/kg. If in previous years the challenge was to extend production, from this year on we have to start rethinking how to save on water, by cultivating other arid-resistant species such as almond and olive trees which, therefore, do not require a lot of electricity for irrigation.”

As of mid-October, the clementine season has also started in Calabria. “The yield will be below the average by at least 20 per cent, with production costs increased by around 0.15 euro/kg due to the use of electricity for irrigation, to which increases in processing, starting with packaging, and transport must be added,” say an organisation of producers. “The result is that we will not be able to absorb these costs on our own if we do not want to trade on a loss. The solid relationships built over time with customers will help us, I hope, to find a balance in this generally difficult situation for everyone.”

As far as the Clementine di Calabria PGI is concerned, for the campaign that has just started, product quantities similar to those of last year and excellent fruit quality are expected, determined by a rather warm weather trend.

In Apulia and Basilicata, the mild weather in recent weeks has caused a delay in the ripening of the fruit. On the early varieties of clementines there is a delay in the start of harvest of at least 15 days compared to last season. The fruit is still green and wrinkled. Heavy rainfall and temperature fluctuations are needed to obtain good colouring. In any case, some companies have started selling the first batches of Clemenruby and Miyagawa varieties. Demand, both domestic and European, is high, but sales prices seem to be unsatisfactory and such that they can cover all production and processing costs. Among the costs that weigh most heavily are diesel, fertiliser, energy and packaging.

Spain: Positive start for Spanish mandarins and clementines with lower supply and higher prices
The Spanish mandarin campaign started in the second week of September with the first Iwasaki and Okitsu within the Satsuma group, that have had a very good demand, given their low availability. Due to the low economic yields obtained in recent years, many growers decided to give up on their plantations of early Satsumas. Then, this year, with fewer plantations and lower yields per hectare, the Satsumas have been doing well, with the demand exceeding the supply.

The arrival of the first clementines came a week later, the first week of October, due to poor coloration caused by higher temperatures than normal. Usually, many companies start the clementine campaign with the variety Clemenrubi, but this year it has been discarded by most of the packers due to its lack of juice and rather small sizes.

The Spanish clementine campaign is progressing now with good prices for all the parties involved in the sector, both due to this year’s smaller harvest and the low product supply from the southern hemisphere compared to other years, as well as good demand.

There are no longer stocks of mandarins or clementines from the southern hemisphere in the markets, having been withdrawn earlier compared to last year as their campaigns ended earlier. The transition has therefore been quite clean this year. The Orogros, Oronules, Arrufatina and Marisol varieties are currently being marketed, followed by the Clemenules, the most abundant variety in the Valencian Community. According to the official figures, it seems that this year there is 10% less production of easy peelers compared to last year. Sizes will mostly be small at least until January due to the hot and dry weather this summer. The mandarin and clementine campaign has aroused interest from buyers since it began and this year’s drop in production, together with good demand, is translating – for the time being – into higher purchase and sale prices. The truth is that the clementine campaign begins with optimism according to growers, packers and traders.

Although the citrus harvest will be lower this year, the consumption will play a key role in determining if the market reacts with better prices, so just as the demand for clementines and mandarins continues to grow every year, that of oranges continues to shrink. With regard to competition from third countries, it should be noted that the reduction in harvests has not only occurred in Spain, but in most Mediterranean countries including Morocco and Turkey, as well as Egypt.

South Africa: End to port strikes allows late mandarins to be shipped
The strike at South Africa’s ports has just been called off and there are a fair amount of late mandarins that still need to be shipped. The season is almost over, soft citrus is now being harvested in the late regions of the Western and Eastern Cape.

Soft citrus exports to Russia have grown significantly and this country now takes 10% of South Africa’s soft citrus, but the largest receiver is still Europe (a quarter), followed by the UK. North America and the Middle East have switched the fourth and fifth position this year in terms of the amount of South African soft citrus they import.

In fact, South Africa’s (or more accurately: the Western Cape’s) soft citrus season in the USA was one of few unadulterated success stories this year and a record number of vessels took shipments consisting mostly of soft citrus.

Around 32 million cartons (15kg) of soft citrus were shipped – two years ago that figure was just under 24 million cartons and in 2015 South Africa exported fewer than 10 million 15kg cartons of soft citrus. There have been reports of a large amount of unpopular sizes (both too small and too large) and together with shipping and other costs rising uncontrollably, leading to some citrus, including soft citrus, being dumped. Wind has also had an impact on packouts in areas of the Western Cape.

China: Harvest delayed, small sized fruit
China’s domestic mandarin season is about to start. Due to dry weather conditions in large production regions including Nanfeng there are reported harvest delays. “We experienced almost no rains during the last three months. The color of the fruit on the trees is currently still greenish. It will likely take an additional 10 to 15 days for the fruit to mature and to be ready for harvest,” comments a grower and exporter from Nanfeng: “Currently, the size of the fruit is still small, around 30-45mm. Comparatively, normal sizes of baby mandarins are closer to 35-60 mm. The weather has been abnormal over summer in my hometown, very hot and without rain.”

China imports mandarins from various countries, including South Africa, Australia, Peru, Chile and some other countries. Reportedly, during this year’s imported mandarin season to China, the arrival of Australian and Peruvian mandarins decreased, while the number of South African mandarins increased compared with last year. One importer remarks: “The production season of South African mandarins runs from mid-June to the end of September and early October. This season the overall arrival volume increased by 15% compared with last year, and demand is still strong. The main reason is that the overall quality is stable and the taste is good. The second reason is that the arrival of mandarins from other countries has decreased.”

North America: Good prospects for mandarins despite damage from Hurricane Ian
Florida is seeing a drop in tangerine/mandarin production following Hurricane Ian. “We’re still assessing our crops. We have groves in all of the major growing regions across the state. Those regions had varying degrees of damage and impact from Hurricane Ian so the loss numbers definitely vary from region to region,” says one grower-shipper.

He says volume has definitely been impacted by the hurricane in terms of early season tangerines, so those supplies will be limited. But as it gets into the mid and late-season varieties of tangerines and mandarins, those crops were less affected so there will be more volume into the December-January period. 

The impact of the hurricane was largely due to the high winds. “For our company the most impact we had were high winds blowing a percentage of the fruit off the trees. We had a tremendous amount of rain–up to 20 inches of rain in some of our groves but they are in fairly well draining soil,” he says. 

There was also some tree loss but trees overall weren’t significantly affected. “We still have fruit to sell and a lot of good fruit but it’s less than what we had prior to the hurricane,” he says.

While production began in early September, Hurricane Ian put an approximate two-week stop to harvesting and packing. “That was to assess damage and conditions and let any of the fruit that was going to fall drop off the trees so we weren’t harvesting any damaged fruit,” he says, adding it’s back up and running now with mandarins. Mandarin production should run through February.

Meanwhile with limited volumes in the state, demand for mandarins is exceeding supply. “We’re seeing very good demand. The eating quality of the fruit is much better than even last season. We have higher Brix levels, slightly lower acids so we have a much better ratio,” he says, adding that pricing is stronger than last year. 

On the other side of the country, California’s mandarin crop looks to be starting on time early next month although volume will be down slightly. “The supply is better than last year but below average when it comes to typical California supply,” says one grower shipper.

He notes that two years ago, California produced a larger crop that ended up staying on the tree longer than normal. “That had some ramifications in last year’s crop which was down significantly–closer to 60 percent from the year prior,” he says. “That light crop last year we expected to have a rebound again. But due to growing conditions and with water being difficult three years in a row, the trees are still recovering, so we’re not back to normal yet.”

This is even with slightly increased acreage on mandarins in California. According to figures, mandarin acreage has gone up in the last two years–in 2022, 67,148 total standing acres were reported while in 2020, there were 63, 809 acres.

That said, he notes that the mandarin quality looks strong this year. “This is the earliest maturing fruit in the last 10 years on a Brix-acid ratio from a taste perspective.” 

The crop comes at a time when California citrus has been out of the market for awhile. “We were done early last year in May. And there hasn’t been a large influx of imports so that combined with the great quality to start off the season, all lines up to be an excellent year,” he says. 

That said, given the lower supply and the increasing input costs growers and shippers are seeing, prices are higher on mandarins this year. “Even though prices are higher, they’re not keeping pace with inflationary cost pressures,” he says.

Peru: The United States remains main destination for Peruvian mandarins
According to the figures shared by an important Peruvian consulting firm, at the end of the first eight months of the year, Peruvian mandarin exports registered an increase of 3% in volume and 8% in value compared to 2021. The rise of 5 % of the average price of the fruit in the international market allowed this increase in value which, however, as recently stated by the Association of Citrus Producers of Peru, Procitrus, has not been sufficient in a product with few margins to counteract the problems that citrus fruits have been facing at a global level, among which logistics stand out with the rise in freight rates and the impact of delays in the quality of the fruit when it reaches its destination.

In Peru, the production of easy peelers has increased significantly this campaign, but the industry considers the viability of continuing to grow in the volume of citrus produced in the country. “Absolutely everyone in the sector evaluates whether it is worthwhile to continue growing in volume or to see more work on issues of quality and market promotion, because it would not be sustainable in the long term if costs rise, demand does not increase, and on the other hand, supply continues to grow; in the long term, this is going to generate a greater drop in prices,” a manager of a large citrus company recently explained to the media, noting that some low-return varieties could disappear. In fact, various factors have had a strong impact on one of the varieties that Peru exports, the tangelo, which in the 2022 campaign has experienced a 35% drop in shipments, according to industry data.

With figures up to August, the main destination for Peruvian mandarins was the United States, with a 67% share, where shipments have considerably increased their share this campaign. They are followed by the United Kingdom and the Netherlands; however, the European market has not been without its challenges. In August, a Peruvian industry body already pointed out the competition problems that were registered in the European market, where Morocco and South Africa arrive with shorter transit times and where the greater presence of their citrus this year complicated the scene. Specifically, “Morocco used to decrease its volumes between February and April, but this year, they remained until June and July,” the entity stated in the media last August.

From Fresh Plaza

“Export Volumes Higher But Prices Lower”:

Peruvian 2022 Blueberry Campaign On Track To Reach 30% Growth

Peru is well on track to reach the estimated 30% growth in exports of blueberry’s in 2022, but prices are trending lower. With exports just over the halfway mark for the current peak of the campaign, blueberry’s from Peru for the 2022 season shows a 35% increase in containers exported up to week 38 (September 25) compared to the same time last year.

According to Noe Gutierrez, an independent analyst of the company Adoc: “Peruvian export of fresh blueberry updated to week 38 (September 25) has an accumulation of 8,453 containers this year compared to the 6,059 containers we had at the cut of the same date in 2021. Prices are lower this season and are on average at $5.5 per kilogram from August 2022.“


Adoc’s chart showing the volumes and dollar value of Peru’s blueberry exports op to end September 2022

The peak of Peru’s blueberry season is from August to November, and is currently just over the halfway mark. The country has been successful in reaching new markets of Portugal, Israel and Jordan in the current 2022 campaign. These new markets were reached via air and sea freight.

In 2021 Peru’s blueberry exports showed a 20% year-on-year increase, which is expected to be 30% more this year.

From Fresh Plaza

Prices Elevated But Potatoes Offer Consumers Good Value

Potato prices are high, but there are still opportunities for retail and foodservice promotions, according to industry leaders.

The average price for a carton of Idaho potatoes reached $32.77 in late August. 

The USDA reported the average price for Idaho potatoes on Oct. 8 was $17.77 per carton,  down 46% from the late August peak but still 60% up from $11.06 per carton at the same time a year ago.

Meanwhile, the average advertised retail price for all fresh potatoes was $1.47 per pound on Oct. 7, down 9% from $1.62 in late August but up 17% from 1.26 per pound the same time a year ago.

The costs for Idaho growers are way up, which is part of the reason for the acreage reduction this year, said Kevin Stanger, president of Wada Farms, Idaho Falls, Idaho.

“Currently, the costs to grow the potato makes it one of the most expensive crops to grow in Idaho,” he said. “Add to that factor that water shortage was an issue this past season and could be even worse this coming season unless we get a good snow pack this winter,” he said, noting that potatoes use a lot of water per acre compared to other crops like wheat or barley.

Consumers still want potatoes, even at higher prices, Stanger said.

“I think retailers can still move potatoes without thinking they need to discount them,” he said. “Potatoes are still a great buy for the consumer, and there’s not a need to discount them to lower levels this season.”

Foodservice customers might have to adjust their sizing requirements, Stanger said.

“(Foodservice operators) may need to move to smaller sizes with some customers,” he said. “If, overall, the nation has a smaller crop profile, those customers that like big potatoes may need to use a smaller profile.”

Retailers can maximize Idaho potato sales by featuring displays that highlight both the affordability and complete nutritional value of potatoes, said Dick Thomas, senior vice president of sales for Potandon Produce LLC, Idaho Falls, Idaho.

“Potatoes are about as complete a food as one can buy from a nutritional point of view, they taste great and are affordable for families to incorporate into meals multiple times each week,” he said.

From The Packer

Hurricane Ian Hits Florida As Citrus Growers Near Harvest Season

Hurricane Ian made landfall in Florida as a Category 4 storm and is slowly making its way through the state as a Category 1 hurricane. Yesterday, an article was published about the potential impact on citrus and vegetable crops as well as logistics challenges. More will become clear in the coming days and weeks.

Although the impact on the produce industry is unknown at this point, we do know it could be devastating. According to the University of Florida, about 175,000 acres of citrus groves were expected to be in the path of Ian and an additional 200,000 acres of other crops like vegetables were also expected to receive lots of rain and extremely strong winds. Florida’s citrus industry has been suffering for years with reduced acreage and yields due to citrus greening. Increased labor costs and competition from foreign imports have been an additional struggle for growers.

“When hurricanes hit citrus groves, it’s not always 100 percent of the fruit that will fall off the tree, but storms with stronger winds tend to drop a larger amount of fruit, especially when the storms hit later in the growing season,” says Christa Court with the University of Florida. Seasonal crops currently in the ground include over 200,000 acres of fresh market vegetables like cucumbers, bell peppers, and tomatoes.

Unfortunately, Ian’s arrival coincides with the usual timeframe for plantings of most crops in the region. In addition, citrus harvest is around the corner. Other crops that are being harvested this time of year include avocados, carambola, corn, peanuts, and sweet potatoes.

“After the storm passes, assessing the damage might not be a quick process, depending on power and telecommunication outages, limited access to farms and ranches due to flooding, and other challenges,” Court said. “The point is that each commodity, each farm, sees different impacts, even in the same area during the same weather event. It is our goal to capture as much information as we can, and that the information we collect can assist in their recovery and preparations for the next event.”

From Fresh Plaza

US West Coast Port Labour Talks Disrupted By Seattle Dispute

A conflict involving Seattle’s largest port terminal endangers contract negotiations between US West Coast Terminals and a labour union.

Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), representing terminal operators on the US West Coast, had been in talks with The International Longshoremen and Warehouse Union (ILWU) for four months now. Accusations are being thrown left and right between the two parties about who should be assigned jobs and worker productivity.

As per the report, due to reduced productivity in Oakland and Seattle-Tacoma ports, the ports saw a net slowdown, increasing vessel turnaround time, implicating congestion issues at these ports.

Another issue at play is the cold-ironing of ships at these ports. Cold-ironing refers to the practice where ships switch off their engines and resort to on-shore power supply, especially in port areas, resulting in reduced pollution in ports and cities.

A press release by ILWU stated, “Stevedoring company SSA is once again using a federal agency to circumvent the assignment of work to International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) dockworkers under the ILWU-PMA collective bargaining agreement.”

The ILWU, citing Section 1.75 of the ILWU-PMA contract signed a decade ago, argues that it was exclusively assigned the cold-ironing job. The union now states that this work is now being transferred to another unit by port and terminal authorities.

Although the rival union hasn’t been named in official reports by ILWU, miscellaneous reports seem to point fingers at the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW).

The press release also said, “Employers using the NLRB to circumvent the assignment of work to ILWU-represented employees is an important issue that the ILWU and the PMA addressed in 2008 bargaining.”

“For the past six weeks, the parties have been discussing multiple employer past contract violations in this context and now another instance of this is taking place,” it added.

Willie Adams, president of ILWU International, argued that the parties at the bargaining table have an obligation to the industry to fix this problem, citing port and terminal operators.

From Container News

Taiwan: Central Bank Spent $8.25 Bln To Hold Back Currency Depreciation In H1

Taiwan’s central bank has issued a statement saying that in the first half of this year it sold a net $8.25 billion to intervene in the foreign exchange market, intent on halting the devaluation of the Taiwan dollar. The Taiwan dollar has depreciated 13% against the greenback so far this year.

In recent weeks, Taiwan’s currency and stock market have tanked, due to aggressive interest rate hikes in the United States and the strength of the US dollar, as well as worries over slowing global economic growth. The Central Bank said holds it as essential to maintain the relative stability of the Taiwan dollar exchange rate.

Short-term cross-border capital movement has become an important factor affecting the Taiwan dollar’s exchange rate, which often fluctuates due to uncertainty about the monetary policy direction of major economies. While the Taiwan dollar has depreciated against the greenback, it has been relatively stable against other major currencies, Central Bank officials said.

Taiwan has had “good results” from its managed floating exchange rate system, which is conducive to companies’ operations and contributes to domestic financial stability and economic growth, it added.

From Fresh Plaza

A Preview Of The 2022-2023 Peru Grape Season

After the strong 2021-2022 Peru grape season, Vanguard Direct LLC makes its early predictions and expectations as this year’s harvest approaches.

“We are looking at a similarly strong start to last year,” said Dirk Winkelmann, president. The high temperatures in California and forecasted rain is a challenging recipe for the remaining grape crop in this region. Chile is also seeing weather challenges resulting in a drop in crop size by 10-20 million cartons compared to last season. “All this adds up to strong demand for Peruvian grapes out of the gate and likely to stay that way well into our season,” added Winkelmann. For the first time in a very long time, the industry will see a flip this year from Chile to Peru as the more dominant global grape player.

Total grape volume for the 2022-2023 season is estimated at 70-72M compared to 65M last year. Customer demand for green grapes will be met with the increased volume being produced, while red globes (red seeded) will be down 10-15 percent. First harvest will start at the beginning of November in Ica.

“We are seeing retailers and customers in the USA and the UK contacting us for their supply needs much earlier this season,” says Winkelmann. “Two global retailers have already closed their contracts and are not relying on California to take them into late December or early January.”

“You also can’t assume anymore that Asia will always be your premium market. If COVID has taught us anything, it is that to have success, you need to start with relationships first and then execute as flawlessly as possible within the constraints of the various markets.”

Looking at logistics, Vanguard sees a healthier season compared to last year. “We aren’t seeing shipping costs escalating as high as we had predicted,” said Winkelmann.

Winkelmann says for the first time in a very long time, the industry will see a flip this year from Chile to Peru as the more dominant global grape player.

West Coast routes
Port issues are another area seeing some relief. Last year, Vanguard avoided the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports completely, pivoting to the East Coast combined with cross-country trucking in pursuit of shorter transit times despite the significant cost increase. With reductions in port congestion and container release times, the plan is to again utilize the West Coast routes this coming season.

However, the state of global affairs is the new challenge. The European markets have several factors looming large – the exchange rate, inflation and the unrest in Ukraine/Russia. Asia also continues to have COVID lockdowns and restrictions that affect demand/consumption. All of this translates into the potential for more ripple effects across multiple markets and the need for flexible plans and rapid responses.

From Fresh Plaza

Logistics Crisis Causes Table Grape Season To Be One Of The Most Difficult For Mexican Industry

Table grape season is now over, ranking as one of the most difficult seasons ever recorded in Mexico’s history. The current logistical crisis caused the quality of the grapes to be affected and prices to fall.

The Local Agricultural Association of Table Grape Producers of Mexico (AALPUM) explains that shipping delays caused damage to the sector, with a drop in the quality of black and red grapes and a decrease in prices of up to 30% compared to the previous season.

Juan Alberto Laborin, general director of the association, told Fresh Fruit Portal that “we had an accumulation of black grapes from Chile and Peru because the ships, ports and fumigation chambers were saturated. Therefore, we started with a season full of a lot of fruit. There was an impressive market saturation, with products that were late and of poor quality, for example, in Long Beach port (USA) we spent days waiting to unload the ships”.

Laborin explains that the scenario was very complicated because the table grape harvest started late. The only grapes that had a good size were the white grapes, but the Flame grapes experienced losses, which hindered the projections for the season. 

Challenges

In addition to the above, there was also an increase in freight rates, diesel and new routes for Mexican drivers, who are scheduled to drive only a certain number of hours according to the logbooks. These conditions increased the value of freight and generated a shortage of drivers for the Mexican industry.

To reverse the scenario, AALPUM’s new strategies aimed to modernize the color and quality of the fruit. In March of each year, the entity negotiates prices, which can occur weekly with wholesale (retail) chains. “If the open market is high or low, we make adjustments. We have evolved favorably with the chains to make these types of transactions,” commented Laborin.

New season 

The 2022 campaign ended at 22 million 18 pounds boxes of grapes, which meant that it remained the same as the previous season. Laborin details that the industry faced a very difficult season and although there are producers with the financial capacity to rethink varieties, it will be complicated due to the logistical scenario and the inflation affecting the country. 

With exports to more than 20 countries around the world, mainly to the US and Canada, last year Mexico exported table grapes to South Korea and is growing in Japan and the Philippines. However, there were complications in shipments to Taiwan and Thailand, where political problems prevented the fruit from entering the country.

In terms of challenges, globalization has caused Peru to go from exporting 3 million boxes to 60 million and Chile will take a large part of the market. The general director of AALPUM indicates that “we are making commercial attempts in other states to have grapes all year round. All the other areas of the world are looking at how to go out earlier or lengthen the harvest”.

The varietal issue is changing around the world, for example, late varieties that did not occur in Chile and Mexico are now occurring. “Late varieties are affecting everyone. Chile and India are generating new varieties and lengthening their cycle, China is creating earlier varieties. The global market is more competitive, so we have to look for cheaper costs to do the same,” Laborin said.

Mexico buys varieties from Chile and Spain to test them and learn from the adaptation of the fruit. Laborin says that Mexico did not have the capacity to create a genetics center and develop its own varieties as Brazil or the US did, so they buy the varieties that are expensive and pay royalties between USD 12 and USD 13 million a year to geneticists.

From Fresh Fruit Portal

Agronometrics In Charts: Peruvian Grape Industry Reaping Benefits Of Varietal Diversification

According to a recent news release by the Association of Table Grape Producers of Peru (PROVID), table grape exports from Peru are projected to grow by 11% in comparison to the previous campaign and the exported volumes are expected to culminate to about 71.5 million boxes (each box equalling 8.2 kilograms).

Upon evaluation of the preseason conditions in August, Fernando Cillóniz Benavides, president of the consulting firm Inform@cción concluded that the 2022-23 season will be a success, according to a report by Agraria.pe. Peru exported 64 million boxes of table grapes in the 2021-22 season, recording an increase of 13 percent compared to the 57 million boxes exported during the previous season.



While grappling with issues such as a lack of containers and escalating freight costs, Peru has been able to attain second place in the export of table grapes by volume.

A swift changeover in varieties has been driving demand and has enabled the diversification of markets. Additionally, extension of its production window has contributed to the country’s meteoric success.

Production usually begins with the Red globe in June and extends until March, spanning almost the entire year. In Piura, seedless grapes production is initiated in September along the Peruvian coast until March, volumes mostly culminate in in April. 



In the previous season, White seedless accounted for 42 percent of exports, up 37 percent from the previous season, followed by Red seedless (28 percent, +14 percent), as well as Red Globe (25 percent, -7percent) and Black seedless (3 percent, -20 percent). 

For the better part of the previous season, pricing remained strong partly due to Chile starting later; due to logistical constraints, arrival of Chilean grapes was delayed until the start of February.

While pricing this season will also be governed by such dynamics and while rising costs along the logistics chain are a growing concern, it is important to note that Peruvian grapes are growing in demand due to their superior quality.

The country is taking quantum leaps towards growing high quality varieties that are demanded by diverse markets. Additionally, Peru holds a competitive edge over competing industries owing to fewer incidences of adverse weather events, which makes it a reliable supplier in the global context.





From Fresh Fruit Portal

Agronometrics In Charts: Devastated Pacific Northwest Cherry Season Pushes Prices To Historic Levels



According to the Northwest Horticultural Council, 20 million boxes of cherries were produced last year by growers in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Utah, valued at nearly a billion dollars. This year, a cold and wet spring stunted the development of many cherries, leading to what is, ostensibly, the smallest crop of Northwest sweet cherries in nearly 14 years. 

The crop is reported to be 80,000 tons short owing to a severe winter storm experienced by Washington and Oregon on April 14 which reduced fruit set and pollination and caused damage to blossoms.

Cherries are the first fruit to be harvested in Washington each year and are therefore more susceptible to capricious weather and temperature fluctuations in the spring. After pollination, cherry buds require consistent warm spring days to swell and develop into fully mature cherries.

According to B.J. Thurlby, the president of both the Washington State Fruit Commission and Northwest Cherries, a snow event during the cherry bloom has not happened before, he went on to add that the crop is the smallest since 2008 and that the crop should finish up at 130,000 tons going to the fresh market.




Prices escalated to historic levels this season, reaching $76.78 per package during week 27, in line with supply tightness and shortages. Week 31 saw prices at $45.58 per package, a 42 percent hike compared to the previous season.

There is also a high degree of uncertainty surrounding the financial sustainability of the industry. Growers are faced with exorbitant energy and labor costs. With packaging costs also climbing, profit margins have reduced. This level of inflation in input prices could potentially discourage growers. 

According to Karina Gallardo, an economist at The Washington State University, labor costs have risen to $21.76 for hand labor and $23.01 for tractor drivers and irrigators. (Having increased from $20.43 and $21.68, respectively, in 2021).



Growers in North America, however, are perseverent and resilient to challenges. Many growers have begun investing in newer varieties that are self-pollinating, more fertile and resistant to adverse growing conditions.

These factors are likely to support the future of the industry, to ensure that production flourishes. 

From Fresh Fruit Portal

GLOBAL MARKET OVERVIEW PEARS

The prospects for pears this season are generally positive, despite some countries like Spain, South Africa and China reporting issues with production due to adverse weather conditions, although in Spain this is somewhat compensated for with the high sugar levels, which were also seen in the Netherlands. In North America, the weather delayed the harvest but production levels seem unaffected, whilst Italy expects almost twice the harvest compared to last year despite the droughts. In Greece, growers faced struggles unrelated to the weather, as they struggle to find workers for the harvest. In Germany, demand for the popular fruit continues to grow, and in Argentina, the blow from the loss of the Russian market has been softened by increased exports elsewhere.

Netherlands: More pressure expected at start of marketing season
Whereas a large Dutch pear harvest was initially anticipated, across the board the kilos and size sorting are still disappointing and expectations had to be adjusted downwards. Nevertheless, Dutch traders are not negative about the marketing season. It is expected that especially at the start of the season there will be some pressure on the market from growers who need money and want to avoid high cooling costs. But the overall reasoning is that if this results in some lower prices and a lot of sales that this can only result in a rising market during the season. Incidentally, the price really has yet to set at this stage. Qualitatively, the pears are very good and, due to the many hours of sunshine, the high sugars in particular stand out.

Belgium:
The harvest of the new crop of Belgian pears is just about over. A trader says the pears there are generally of good quality, but there is a lot of variation in plots. “Qualitatively they actually look very good with us; a lot less Class II pears and the sugar content is also very high. You do see a big difference between plots. The stormy weather has had very localised dramatic effects on a number of growers, and the quality on non-irrigated plots, during the heat, is considerably less than the irrigated plots. We are fortunate to have had very good irrigation. Still, overall the pears will be as much as 5 to 10 mm smaller than last year.” In terms of volumes, the trader estimates that there has been more harvest than last year.

A Belgian exporter expects that drought and later storms will mean fewer pears are suitable for long storage, creating a stress market. “Since a lot of the fruit will not be suitable for long storage, I expect it will lead to a lot of early sales. The fact that everything has to be sold at very short notice will create a certain pressure on the market. Last year we were able to sell through July, but this year it could be that some lots of Conference will not even make it to April. This will lead to a stress market at the beginning of the season. Moreover, towards the end of the season, it could lead to substantial shortages, which again is not desirable.”

Germany: Increasing demand for pears and changes in assortment
There was some movement in the product range for pears this season: New additions were Dutch Gute Luise, meanwhile the relevance of Italian Santa Maria and Williams Christ increased. The importance of Turkish Santa Maria and German Gute Luise increased as well. In the meantime Conference from domestic cultivation entered the market, as well as Dutch and Belgian badges. On the other hand, German Clapps Liebling lost importance. Although there was a lot of change in the assortment, the demand could be met without difficulty. Prices therefore did not change significantly but remained at the level of the previous week. Overall, the demand is increasing as domestic soft- and stonefruit is losing importance, a wholesaler stresses.

France: Production doubled compared to last year and marketing two weeks ahead
As of September 1, 2022, French pear production is estimated at nearly 150,000 tons. Production doubled compared to 2021, a year strongly reduced by the spring frosts. The 2022 production is therefore expected to increase sharply and be close to its full potential. In the PACA region, the sizes of summer pears are high, for other varieties the sizes could be impacted by the drought. In the Rhone Valley, despite a reduction in size due to the heat wave and drought, pear production is expected to increase sharply over the year. In Languedoc and Roussillon, production is estimated to be up sharply over the year.

The marketing of pears for the 2022-2023 campaign starts this year 15 days ahead of schedule in August, in a market still occupied by other summer fruits. Pear prices are lower than in 2021. With high temperatures, consumption remains oriented towards summer fruits (peaches and apricots). Demand is currently low for pears, despite the high sugar content of the fruit.

Italy: Twice as many pears as last year expected despite droughts
In Italy, more than 470,000 tonnes of product are predicted for 2022, more than twice as much as last year. The pear campaign is advancing, after having been put to the test by a very long drought period that caused water stress on the plants and growth problems for the fruit. Italian pears have been caught in the grip of drought, diseases (such as Alternaria) and pests (such as the Brown marmorated stink bug).

On the Italian wholesale markets, there are several varieties of national origin: Abate Fetel, Carmen, Conference, Coscia, Williams, Max Red Bartlett. Depending on size, category and packaging, they start at 0.80 €/kg and go up to 2.00 €/kg.

A producer in the north of Italy reported that summer pear yields were lower than expected, but prices did not reflect this.

Pear production in the province of Ferrara was affected by adverse weather conditions in mid-August. Autumn pear varieties fell from the trees due to strong winds. In general, the sizes are not entirely satisfactory for the market, but they are better than last year and, with them, the yields.

A Sicilian grower says: “Despite the difficulties due to the rising production prices, we managed to fulfil all the necessary agronomic practices. In terms of labour, we have also fared well. The production of Coscia pears is good, thanks to the excellent fruit set in our reference plants. The weather did not give these crops much thought this year. Commercially, the product has been very well received with satisfactory sales at national retailers. At the Milan wholesale market, the prevalent price for Sicilian Coscia pears is around 1.60 €/kg.

According to data, pears were bought by 47.7% of Italian households in the last 12 months. Last year, the percentage was 57.3%. The average price, however, rose by almost 20% in the year ending July 2022: the average expenditure per act came to €2.47 for an average of 1.03 kg purchased.

Spain: Weather during growing season causes negative effects on Spanish pears
Spanish pear campaign is camping with many difficulties, mainly because of the production decrease, abundance of small sizes, fruit deformities and high costs. In Lleida, one of the biggest production areas in Spain, the production will be around 30-35% lower due to the damage caused by the frosts in April. Some areas have lost up to 60% of their production. The heat waves in June and July made an impact in the fruit sizes, which will be mainly small. Normally, between 60 and 65 centimeters were required for Conference pears but this year will be impossible to find enough volumes with those sizes and the retailers should aim to have between 55 and 60 centimeter pears. On the other hand, a considerably high number of pears have malformations due to the adverse climate conditions. Therefore, it will be complicated to get good prices both for growers and traders, given the high production costs, which have increased by 25-30% in one year, as well as the fruit conditions. Although pear sizes will generally be smaller this season as a result of the extreme heat, the fruit has a very good quality and is even sweeter according to the sector, that asks consumers to pay more attention this year to the taste rather than to their appearance. The reduction in the size of the fruit has been a general situation not only in the regions of Lleida, but throughout Catalonia, the rest of Spain and Europe.

In Navarra, for instance, the production could also fall by 30%. The decrease could range between 3.8 and 4.5 million kilos. It’s worth noting that Navarra harvested 15.1 million kilos of pears in 2021. Pears from Navarra will also have smaller sizes because of the intense heat.

Greece: Good volumes, but struggle to find labour for harvest
The Greek pears have been harvested for the season. Quality wise, this season the Greek weather was favourable for pears. There were no major damages by frosts during blossom, which was our major issue last year. Moreover, there was no rainfall during the picking period, which lasted from 20/07 to 22/08, and the temperature didn’t exceed 35 degrees Celsius, thus there were no sunburned pears either.

Greece’s main varieties for export are Coscia, also known as Ercolini, and Santa Maria. They also offer Blanquilla pears, which are maybe not as known in the northern part of Europe. However, it’s the bestselling pear in the domestic market, and it’s highly appreciated in Israel as well. In terms of volumes, Greece work more with Santa Maria pears, and then Blanquilla. Coscia is a variety that’s not cultivated as much compared to previous years, because most growers replaced it with Santa Maria pears.

The major challenge for our growers up to this point was to find workers for the harvesting process. In every region in Europe, there is a significant lack of personnel for picking. This is no different for Greece, as most of the workers that were picking fruits last year, didn’t come to Greece at all.

South Africa: Lack of rain brings fears for South African pear growers
The first Early Bon Chretien pears are in full bloom in South African pear orchards, and in the colder areas Forelle and Abate Fetel pears are also blossoming.

South Africa’s pear exports have essentially ended by now, with 16.8 million 12.5kg cartons exported this season, over 2 million 12.5kg cartons more than 2021 (up by 13%). Pears (Forelle and Packhams, mostly) are still supplied to the domestic market.

Exports to Russia, a big market for pears, are down by 10% (2.5 million cartons were still sent there), while there was a 28% increase in pears to Europe, a 23% increase to the Far East and a 25% increase (from a very low base) to the Indian Ocean islands, probably as a result of tourism increasing again. There was also a 26% increase in pear exports to Africa and 17% increase to the Middle East.

The Langkloof, especially, had better yields this year and Forelle rose by 30% compared to last season.

There has been strong growth on the Celina (QTee) cultivar, with export volumes doubling year on year. There is also still good growth on the South African pear Cheeky.

Pear orchards in South Africa growers are somewhat worried at the amount of rain the Cape has had, as the rain started late, and fruit growers have been irrigating at times during winter (which they’d ideally like to avoid altogether, also given electricity costs).

South Africa’s long-awaited pear access to China is starting slowly with commercial trials with regards to packaging.

China: Prices of Huangguan pears increase by 50%
Huangguan pears and Ya pears are the main export varieties of Chinese pears. In Hebei, which is the main producing area of ​​Chinese pears, after the harvesting season in July and August, the storage of Huangguan pears has been fully completed. 

The Huangguan pear is an important variety for export, and it is very popular among overseas Chinese groups and local people. The volume of Huangguan pear exports has decreased this year, mainly due to the increased cost of pears and the decline in purchasing power in foreign markets.

This season, the production of Huangguan pears has decreased by about 25%, and the storage volume has decreased by about 15% compared with last year. Due to the decrease in production, the average price has increased by about 50% compared with the same period last year, and the increase in the initial price is even higher.

North America: Similar production expected despite delay in harvest
The pear harvest is underway in North America, with harvest currently taking place in four key regions in the Pacific Northwest– Wenatchee, Yakima, Mid-Columbia and Medford.

The local industry body recently announced the first official estimate of the 2022-23 fresh pear crop for Washington and Oregon. The fresh pear estimate is 16.2 million standard box equivalents. While this is on par with the five-year average, which they say this is very close to last year’s production of 16,288,849 44# standard boxes.

Harvest started in mid-August for summer varieties like Starkrimson and Bartletts and growers are seeing a full range of sizes available, including large-sized fruit and smaller sizes to fill the popular pouch bags as well as sizes to fulfill export market demand. In early to mid-September, growers were also starting to pick Bosc, Green and Red Anjou pears. Specialty pears like Comice, Seckel, Forelle and Concorde pears will also be available in September. The bureau also reports that Green Anjous are slightly up this year, while Bosc and Red Anjou are each down a little.

The organic pear estimate is expected to come in at 1,823,000 million standard box equivalents. As a percentage of the crop, organic pears grew slightly from nine to 10 percent last year to about 11 percent this year.

Like apples, the pear harvest this year was also a few weeks later than normal due to prolonged cooler and wetter weather into April when trees were in bloom. Harvest is expected to finish in early to mid-October.

In terms of demand, some growers are reporting flat, domestic demand and are looking to revitalize the category this year with initiatives like more packaging such as fruit in bags, fixed-weight retail packaging and more. They’re also looking for more display opportunities and a move closer to the front of the store to increase awareness of pears.

For exports, the PNW pear industry will rely heavily on key export markets like Mexico, Canada and the Central American region to successfully move the 2022 crop.

Argentina: Shipments of Argentine pears to Russia down 43% up to June
Argentina is the largest producer of pears in the southern hemisphere and, with consolidated data up to 2020, the fourth largest producer of this fruit in the world; In the field of exports, 2 years ago it even climbed a position and was the third largest exporter of pears, only behind China and the Netherlands.

In the country, as reported by the national industry body in its 2021 Yearbook with data from Senasa, in the provinces of Río Negro and Neuquén there are more than 1,500 producers who cultivate 18,260 hectares where Williams pears are mostly produced. which represent 40.5% of the area in production, followed by Packham’s Triumph (29.2% of the total) and Beurre D’anjou (14.7%).

In 2021, Brazil was the main destination for Argentine pears, with a share that represented almost a third of total exports – taking into account the data provided in the CAFI report, 32% – followed by Russia, which with the acquisition of 73,600 tons concentrated 24.2% of pear shipments. For this reason, given the importance of this market for regional fruit growing, the war started by Russia in Ukraine has left a great impact on export activity. And the official statistics confirm it.

With data up to June 2022, Argentine pear exports have fallen by 16% compared to the same period of the previous year, totaling 201,090 tons, largely dragged down by the 43% drop in pear exports to Russia, which went from 65,622 tons in the first half of 2021 to 37,680 tons in 2022. Although, considering shipment volumes, this drop -only exceeded by the setbacks in shipments to China and Ecuador, which although they are minority destinations, contracted their participation by 64 and 65% – is offset by the notable increase in the reception of fruit in Europe and the East, where the volumes that could not reach the Russian market were presumably diverted.

Specifically, the Netherlands increased the volumes purchased of Argentine pears by 45%, Germany by 39%, Spain by 36% and France by 17%, while purchases from Israel rose by 51% and in the United Arab Emirates climbed by 96%.

From Fresh Plaza

Peru Will Export 11% More Table Grapes In The 2022/2023 Campaign

According to the first projection of the 2022/23 campaign of the Association of Table Grape Producers of Peru (Provid), table grape exports will grow by 11% over the previous campaign, up to 71.5 million boxes of table grapes (each box equals 8.2 kilograms).

“This growth is due to the expansion of the production window, which begins with the Red Globe in June and ends in March, covering almost the entire year,” the entity stressed. In Piura, the seedless grapes begin in September and continue following the Peruvian coast until Ica in March, culminating with the second harvest in Piura in April.

This projected increase in shipments is also due to the rapid varietal change there’s been in the country, which makes Peruvian supply increasingly attractive, achieving greater diversification of markets and helping grapes to continue to be a novel fruit boosting their consumption in the market.

Peru has positioned itself as the world’s second-biggest exporter of table grapes, despite the various difficulties presented in the last campaign, such as container logistics and the increase in freight costs. “This shows that the Peruvian industry has been able to respond to the demand of the more than 50 international markets it supplies with a diversified offer and good quality, which is why we are recognized as highly reliable suppliers,” the association stated.

From Fresh Plaza

Heat Continues To Stress Lettuce Supplies

The September heat wave in California is causing quality problems for most lettuce varieties.

That, in turn, is causing high prices to remain, and they may be headed up as fall begins and growers start the transition from Central California to the Yuma, AZ area.

romaine 9-14-22
iceberg 9-14-22

In a crop update September 13, Markon Cooperative BB #:123315 alerted buyers to the market conditions.

California green leaf, iceberg, and romaine supplies have been impacted by disease pressure and higher-than-normal temperatures. Prices continue to climb.

Markon First Crop (MFC) Premium Iceberg, Romaine, and Green Leaf are available; Markon Best Available (MBA) is being substituted due to low case weights and quality concerns.

Abnormally high temperatures last week are causing varying levels of internal burn, sun scald, growth crack, seeder core, weak tip, and salt and pepper; mildew and thrip damage are also prevalent due to persistently warm soil temperatures.

INSV and Sclerotia are of special concern and have forced suppliers to cut ahead of their scheduled harvests, affecting Romaine Hearts markets/availability.

Romaine prices will remain elevated through September and the Yuma transition.

Iceberg markets remain elevated; low case weights are a result of internal burn forcing suppliers to harvest more immature heads.

Markets are rising; expect elevated markets through the Yuma transition.

Warm weather has resulted in dense heads, fringe burn, pest pressure, and weak tip, reducing harvestable yields and shelf-life.

Mildew, among other pest and disease pressures like INSV, has forced suppliers to cut ahead of their scheduled harvests, lowering case weights and field level yields.

Markets are forecast to climb over the next five to seven days and will remain elevated through Yuma transition.

From Produce Blue Book

Volume Pressure Sharpens As Produce Inflation Climbs In August

“Inflation has been accelerating since early fall 2021, drought conditions are severe, consumer confidence is low and grocery patterns are switching very rapidly. IRI, 210 Analytics and IFPA remain committed to bringing the industry the latest analysis in fresh produce,” said Joe Watson, VP, retail, foodservice and wholesale for IFThe August marketplace.

Food inflation remains extremely high and consumers are feeling the pain. They are making changes to their restaurant engagement as well as their grocery purchases, according to the August IRI survey of primary grocery shoppers.

  • 81 percent of American households bought at least one restaurant meal in August, with the highest restaurant penetration among Gen X, at 85 percent.
  • 54 percent have ordered meals to go. Half of American households have eaten restaurant food on premise. Additionally, 20 percent have ordered from a restaurant for home delivery. “Home delivery is much more popular among Gen Z and younger Millennials, at 31 percent,” said Jonna Parker, team lead fresh at IRI.
  • When purchasing groceries, 85 percent of consumers shopped in person. Online shopping was near equally divided between click-and-collect (nine percent) and home delivery (six percent). Delivery is more prevalent among Gen Z and younger Millennials, at 13 percent.
  • Spending continues to be affected by out-of-stocks.

August 2022 fresh produce sales reached $5.9 billion, surpassing the record set the prior year by +4.2 percent.

“In the fourth quarter of 2021 and the first quarter of 2022, fruit grew much faster than vegetables,” explained Parker. “In July, fruit and vegetables came in at +4 percent dollar growth, each. In August, vegetable growth moved ahead of fruit once more.”

“The year-on-year growth in fresh produce (+4.2 percent) was far below the growth seen in shelf-stable and frozen fruits and vegetables in August,” said Watson. “This could be one of the signs of consumers moving into recessionary spending.”

“The overall volume pressure in fruit is echoed by nearly all the big sellers,” Parker said. “Berries, that have been an incredible pandemic powerhouse, fell 5.6 percent behind year-ago levels. The deepest volume declines among the top 10 players were measured among mixed fruit and mandarins, but avocados and melons also backslid significantly.”

“August’s vegetable performance was mixed,” said Watson. “While most top sellers increased dollar sales, only cucumbers experienced an increase in volume.”

In August, fresh fruit added $119 million in sales and vegetables added $120 million when compared to August 2021. Potatoes, onions, cherries, peaches and nectarines each had inflation of 20 percent or more compared with the average price per pound in August 2021. Berries, tomatoes and bananas had inflation below the rate for total food and beverages and demand remained strong.

From Fresh Plaza

Initial 2021-22 California Navel Orange Forecast Down 14% To 70 Million Cartons

The initial 2021-22 California Navel orange forecast is 70.0 million cartons, down 14% from the previous year. Of the total Navel orange forecast, 67.0 million cartons are estimated to be in the Central Valley. Cara Cara variety Navel orange production in the Central Valley is forecast at 6.0 million cartons.

These forecasts are based on the results of the 2021-22 Navel Orange Objective Measurement (O.M.) Survey, which was conducted from June 15 to September 1, 2021. Estimated fruit set per tree, fruit diameter, trees per acre, bearing acreage, and oranges per box were used in the statistical models estimating production.

This forecast includes production of conventional, organic, and specialty Navel oranges (including Cara Cara and Blood orange varieties). Survey data indicated a fruit set per tree of 239, down 25% from the previous year and below the five-year average of 344.

From Fresh Plaza

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