Container Return Date Upheaval By The Numbers

U.S. agriculture and forest product exporters are counting the ways and dollars it costs them when ocean carriers without warning change the dates for container arrivals at marine terminals.

The Washington-based Agriculture Transportation Coalition (AgTC) and supply chain technology firm TradeLanes recently reached out to hundreds of American shippers to survey the operational and financial impacts of earliest return date (ERD) fluctuations on their businesses.

The AgTC and TradeLanes have analyzed and processed data collected from 283 survey respondents, which they said quantifies the problem with erratic ERDs from the ocean container carriers.

“Costs and disruption imposed by inaccurate and changing earliest return dates for containers are eroding margins,” said AgTC Executive Director Peter Friedmann in a statement. “Restoring ERD integrity is a top priority for our industry.”

Some of the highlights from the 25-question survey include:

  • More than 75% of respondents said their carrier bookings frequently lack a listed ERD.
  • Most respondents reported that a quarter of their containerized shipments experienced ERD changes, with 35% of respondents reporting ERD changes for more than half their shipments.
  • Seventy-eight percent of respondents noted that at least 5% of shipments impacted by ERD changes incurred additional costs that reduced their profitability, with 8% noting 50% or more of their containerized cargoes experienced additional ERD-related costs.
  • Seven percent reported ERD-related disruption costs of $1,000 or more per shipment.

AgTC has been monitoring this problem among its shipper members in recent years and wants carriers to correct the problem.

Friedmann said the inability of ocean carriers to keep shippers immediately informed about changes to sailing schedules and ERDs for containers leads to demurrage charges, additional truck and storage costs, rolled cargo and missed sailings.

Since ocean carriers have contractual relationships with the shippers, either through service contracts or bills of lading at the individual shipment level, the AgTC said they are obligated to communicate directly and immediately with those customers and not depend on marine terminals and other parties to let the exporters know of ERD changes.

In many cases, once a container enters the intermodal stream, shippers have little to no recourse to stop a container en route to a marine terminal when they discover changes to the ERD. Shippers and their truckers are left struggling to find storage and parking until the containers are allowed into the marine terminals for loading on the ships.

While both AgTC and TradeLanes believe that a technological solution can be developed for ocean carriers to immediately and uniformly communicate ERD changes to shippers, it will require an industrywide push to make that happen.

All parties in the supply chain will need to work together to develop a “fair and effective standard of practice,” Reese Giangola, TradeLanes’ chief of staff, told American Shipper.

By American Shipper

California Assures Promotable Table Grape Supplies Through December

The California Table Grape Commission has assured that there will be promotable supplies
of fruit through December this year.


Harvesting is continuing in the San Joaquin Valley, moving steadily toward its conclusion at
the end of the year.


The Commission recently revised its production forecast down, now expecting a crop of
104.9m 19-pound boxes, down from its April estimate of 106.5m . The final harvest in 2019
was 105m 19-pound boxes.


“Fall is a beautiful time of year to harvest grapes in California,” said Nave. “The vineyards
are full of fruit, the mornings are cool and the afternoons are sunny and warm but not hot.”
Nave said that many of the newer varieties of grapes were bred to be harvested in the fall.
“Nearly 50 percent of the California grape volume is shipped to consumers from October
through January,” she said, “making California grapes very much a fall and early winter
fruit.”


According to Nave, this time of year there are often suggestions from grape growers in
other countries that California production will fall short of what is needed to supply the U.S.
market through December.


“California has dominated grape sales through December for years and this season is no
different,” she said. “Promotion work with retailers and conversations with
consumers through social media, influencers, and advertising in multiple mediums are
moving ahead full speed to support the promotable volumes of November and December
and support the wrap-up in January.”

By Fresh Fruit Portal

California Lettuce, Leaf Prices Keep Rising

Prices on many leaf and lettuce items from the Salinas, CA, area keep rising for a variety of reasons from bad weather to soil diseases to strong demand.

According to USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, F.O.B.s from Salinas Oct. 15 were in the high $20s for film-wrapped cartons of 24s of iceberg lettuce, and romaine was in the low $40s for cartons of 24s.

According to foodservice cooperative Markon BB #:123315, the situation should continue through the rest of October.

“Green leaf and romaine prices continue to rise,” it reported on its website. “Supplies are extremely limited. Demand remains extremely strong. Industry volume continues to be heavily impacted by the soilborne diseases Sclerotinia and Impatiens Necrotic Spot Virus that are reducing harvestable heads at the field level.”

It also alerted buyers that another warming trend could further affect supplies.

California’s Central Coast growing regions are experiencing yet another warming trend that will continue through the rest of this week and impact broccoli, lettuce/leaf, and strawberries, among other row crops.

With little or no marine layer in the forecast, coastal temperatures will see anywhere from 12-20 degrees above normal through Friday, October 16, but onshore flow brings them back to the 70s by Sunday afternoon.

Salinas
Broccoli may see prolonged challenges with pin rot and hollow core as well as decreased yields. Lettuce items may develop internal burn, long core/seeder, rib blight, and sun scalding. Harvesting crews are adjusting production hours to avoid peak temperatures (harvesting earlier in the morning).

Expect tight supplies on most Salinas Valley vegetable crops through the remainder of the season.

Santa Maria
Higher temperatures are causing quality concerns in strawberries such as bruising, decay, small size, and soft fruit.

Harvesting crews are adjusting production hours to avoid peak temperatures and will be culling out as much overripe, soft and crooked fruit as they can over the next 10 days.

Strawberries are coloring up at a fast rate than they are growing due to the heat, resulting in smaller size.


Expect tight strawberry supplies and shortened shelf life for the next 2 weeks.

By Produce Blue Book

OVERVIEW GLOBAL BLUEBERRY MARKET

In week 42, the blueberry market is mainly dominated by Mexico, Peru and South Africa. Peruvian blueberries in particular are available in all continents. The first shipments are arriving in China again, and now that the European and North American seasons are coming to an end, the blueberries from the South American country are taking over. Something remarkable, however, is that more South American markets are entering the world market with force. In Australia, prices have fallen sharply due to an oversupply.

The Netherlands: Blueberry shortage, despite greater supply
South America and South Africa are currently the most important blueberry suppliers on the market. According to a Dutch importer, it is worth noting that some new production countries are increasingly present. “In South America, for example, in addition to established countries such as Peru, Chile, Uruguay and Argentina, more and more berries are coming from Brazil and Colombia. Qualitatively, these berries belong in the midrange. From Africa, we see an increasing volume coming from Namibia and Zimbabwe. According to him, the market situation is very good. “Peru and most other countries have a higher production than in previous years, but in recent weeks there has been a shortage in the market and the demand has reached a very high level. The shortages are becoming somewhat less of an issue because prices are high and the demand is falling, but we can still speak of an above-average price. Peru is now at its peak in terms of volume, and as a result, more promotional campaigns are being carried out, especially with packaging formats of between 400 and 750 grams, with 500 grams as the standard. This is a very good development, because it means stocks are going fast. In the regular programs, the German supermarkets in particular are also increasingly switching from the 125 gram to the 200 gram package.”

Germany: Strong year for domestic production
In Germany, the domestic season has now come to an end almost everywhere. Only in some places are small quantities still being delivered. Peru currently dominates the supply, but South Africa and Argentina are also present. Argentina has had a good harvest, but due to the lack of air freight capacity caused by the pandemic, the volumes are only slowly arriving in the European market, says an importer. The demand from the retail sector is not that high, and 200 and 300 gram packs are mainly on offer, instead of 500 gram ones.

The domestic production has fallen up to 40 percent below average in some areas due to the lack of seasonal workers and frost damage. Due to the positive effect of blueberries on the immune system, sales were further stimulated by the coronavirus pandemic. Partly because of this, the season also ended a bit earlier than usual. Lastly, it is worth noting that blueberries are increasingly becoming a year-round product in Germany.

Italy: Domestic season already over
The Italian blueberry season has already come to an end. Currently, most blueberries on the Italian market come from Peru.

An important trader in Northern Italy, who closed the season in September, says that the Italian production is growing every year. Also, there is an increasing focus on quality, on varieties with a larger size and a better shelf life. “In the 2020 season, the yields per hectare were average and the prices were also satisfactory. They ranged between 6 and 12 € / kg, depending on the period, size and quality. At the beginning of the season, in the months of May and June, there were problems to find workers because of the coronavirus, but after that the situation stabilized.” In the north of Italy, various kinds of blueberries are grown in greenhouses to bring the the start of the harvest forward to mid-May.

In Campania, the blueberry season ended in August. “It has certainly been a good year, but not one to get enthusiastic about. Good volumes have been harvested, with an average price of 4-5 € / kg,” says a trader. Currently, the wholesale markets are selling class I Peruvian blueberries for around € 15 / kg.

South Africa: Prospects revised due to low temperatures
The blueberry production is smaller than initially expected due to the cold weather in the northern regions of the country. Berries ZA had estimated the harvest this season at about 23,000 tons, out of which 17,000 were intended for export. Now those prospects have been revised down to 22,000 tons, with also substantially lower exports. Up to week 41, 3,703 tons of blueberries were exported, with the United Kingdom and the Netherlands as the main destinations. The South African blueberry season will reach its peak in the next ten weeks.

China: Imports from Peru available on the Chinese market again
The first blueberries are already available on the Chinese market. At the moment, they are still arriving by air, but in a few weeks the first reefer containers coming by sea will follow. Some Chinese exporters say that the berries are of lower quality this year because a greater number of smaller companies from South America are allowed to sell their products in China and they are not always of the right quality. Because of that difference in quality, sales are not going as well as last year. However, some large companies that have already built a reputation in the Chinese market are not affected. Sales are going well for them. Several major players have therefore increased their exports to China.

This year, the average price for import blueberries is slightly higher than in the previous one, as growers expect a lot from the Chinese market and are asking for higher prices. The larger exporters also charge high prices, but at a stable level. For the first time this year, Peruvian blueberries are also arriving to Taiwan. The first reefer containers with blueberries departed at the beginning of October. However, the focus for most exporters remains on the Chinese mainland.

United States: Shortage on the market
There is currently a limited supply of blueberries on the North American market. A considerable shortage is expected, especially in weeks 42 and 43. The domestic season is now over and the market is currently dependent on imports from Mexico and Peru. The prospect is that there will be 20-25% more good quality production, although this remains to be seen.

In the meantime, some blueberries from Peru are also arriving in the US. A larger harvest is expected there, although imports are not yet consistent at the moment.

The shortage is partly a result of the volumes that go to Europe and Asia. After all, when Peru started, the price was low, so the blueberries were diverted to other destinations. Only when there is enough does the US become interesting. The import movements have thus had an impact on the domestic blueberry production. For many regions, their marketing window has become a more competitive period. Switching to new varieties is often difficult, as it takes 10-12 years for the plants to reach maturity.

While the markets are now strong, they should level off in November. A North Carolina grower predicts that prices will range between $ 28 and $ 32 in the first three weeks of November as a result of the growing volumes. Peru started harvesting just over a week ago and that fruit should reach North America by week 44. The Mexican supply will also get stronger at that point. “The supply is increasing, but we still have a few weeks ahead of tight markets here in the US,” said the grower.

Mexico: 20-25% increase
The season started for Mexican growers in October and the volumes are expected to increase by 20-25%. The US is the main export destination. The volumes shipped are growing and the supply for US importers is currently still limited. Exports should grow in the coming weeks, while Peru will also be shipping more. This can ultimately result in some pressure on prices.

Argentina: Better quality
Argentina’s blueberry season is already underway, although its volumes are lower than those of Peru and Mexico, which are the main suppliers at this time of the year. Importers see higher quality fruit coming from Argentina this season, compared to the previous one.

Peru: Longer season and bigger harvests
This year, the start of the season has been somewhat staggered. Depending on how the harvest goes, the total production is expected to increase by 40% compared to last year, although it is still too early in the season to confirm this preliminary forecast. Europe, the United States and China receive the majority of the shipments. The season is expected to last until February. As the volumes grow, prices should fall, as it usually happens at this time of the season.

Australia: Prices dropped dramatically due to abundant supply
The blueberry season in New South Wales is in full swing and sales prices have fallen dramatically in recent weeks due to an abundant supply. Despite the good quality, the price of a 125 gram tray has fluctuated around 2.50 AUD (€ 1.51) at most major supermarkets and has sometimes even fallen below that.

New Zealand: Value of exports continues to grow
According to the latest annual edition of Fresh Facts, New Zealand’s blueberry exports continue to grow every year. In 2019, the fruit’s exports were worth 38.9 million NZD (21.97 million Euro); in 2018, the total value was 34.8 million NZD, and in 2000, 6.8 million NZD. The report also revealed that 3,040 tons were harvested from ​​640 hectares, and that the domestic value in 2018/19 reached 23 million NZD (13 million Euro). In the domestic market, processed blueberries were worth NZD 2.8 million (Euro 1.6 million).



By FreshPlaza

OVERVIEW GLOBAL AVOCADO MARKET

In week 40, the export of Peruvian avocados is falling and the end of the season is also in sight for countries such as South Africa, Kenya and the US (California). The market is now shifting to other producing countries, such as Colombia, Spain, Italy and the undisputed powerhouse in avocado production: Mexico. The European market is currently tight, so the price has risen. This is especially true for the small and medium sizes. However, prices are still below those of 2019.

Mexico: Dominant player in the market
The Mexican export season to Europe, Japan, Hong Kong and Canada was pushed back by about two months this year due to market oversaturation, which was caused by a decline in the demand due to the pandemic. Jalisco growers started shipping in July instead of May, but things have now gone mostly back to normal. Most of the countries competing with Mexico have now finished their campaigns and the market has stabilized with a good balance between supply and demand. Jalisco growers are now switching from their Mendez crop (a Hass variety) to their Hass crop and expect higher volumes in the coming weeks.

Peru: False start due to pandemic
Peruvian avocados have had a good season this year, recovering later in the campaign from the low demand recorded at the start of the pandemic. Given its high supply this season, Peru has been working to expand its presence in the US market and will continue to do so. Currently, about 60% of their harvest is intended for Europe, 30% for the US and the other 10% for other destinations. The campaign has already ended and will start again in the spring of 2021.

Colombia: A future big player?
Colombia is working hard to become one of the major players in the avocado industry and has the potential to grow the fruit all year round, although they are not there yet. The main markets for Colombian avocados are currently in Europe, but their sights have been set on markets around the world. Colombian avocados were in their low season from May to the summer, and the volumes are now starting to increase again.

Dominican Republic: Greenskin becomes tropical avocado
The most common avocados in the Dominican Republic are the green-skinned, which are currently marketed by the country as tropical avocados in hopes of expanding its presence in the US market. September was marked by the start of the harvest of the Semil-34 variety, which is the most popular one due to its long shelf life. Tropical avocado marketers are currently taking a big step to increase their presence in the US market, particularly in Texas and the West Coast, as their current major markets are those along the East Coast.

Netherlands: Limited supply and good prices for avocados
Due to a limited supply, the prices of avocados on the European market continue to rise. For example, the supply from Peru is declining, and that from South Africa and Kenya is coming to an end. The volumes from Chile are still limited, as is the supply from Mexico. However, due to the difficult situation in the North American market, more volumes could be shipped to Europe. The supply of the small and medium sizes is particularly limited, as is that of the greenskins. Israel is delivering some not very large volumes of Ettinger.

Germany: Difficult situation with air freight
The supply of avocados in the German wholesale market seems to be stabilizing at the moment. During the summer months, there were some oversupply and low prices, partly due to the lack of demand from the catering industry due to the coronavirus. The demand and prices have now stabilized somewhat again, although there are also fears in Germany for a second wave of the coronavirus and consequently stricter measures. This could also have consequences for air freight, and it should be noted that avocados imported by air are a major product on the German wholesale markets.

From week 38, the supply of Peruvian Hass avocados increased again, while South Africa played a more prominent role in the summer months. A rise in the demand for exotics is also expected in the coming weeks in both the retail and wholesale markets.

France: Fluctuating market
This year, the avocado market has been subject to huge fluctuations. After a bad summer period with low prices and a big supply, the market has improved again in September. The supply and demand are at a high level. The supply from Peru is declining and the market is switching to Chilean avocados.

United Kingdom: Switch to Colombia and Mexico
Large volumes from Peru were expected on the British market, and European customers tried to keep prices down, but given the market fluctuations, this is not always easy; certainly not in weeks when certain sizes are sometimes hardly available. What remained consistent, according to British traders, was the quality. Now that Peru is shipping its last avocados, the UK is switching to Mexican and Colombian products.

Spain: Start of the Bacon avocado season
Due to the high temperatures recorded in southern Spain, the harvest of the first Bacon avocados is starting earlier this year. It usually starts around mid-October, but next week it will already be possible to pick avocados in some orchards. The fat levels show that the avocados are almost ready to be harvested in some early areas.

According to a grower, the high demand is making them want to start the season as soon as possible, as customers are eager to buy Spanish Bacon avocados. High prices are currently being recorded and everything points to this becoming a good season. After the Bacon and Fuerte, it will be time for the Hass variety, which is the most common avocado in Spain.

Overall, avocado production volumes are expected to be lower this year. The yields per hectare vary greatly depending on the production area, but in general, this year’s volumes are expected to fall by between 20% and 30%. However, there are many new avocado plantations in Malaga that could somewhat compensate for the lower yields.

Italy: Start of harvest in Sicily
Avocados, especially those of the Hass variety, are becoming increasingly popular and loved by consumers in Italy. Recent data from Nielsen confirms that this fruit has reached a market share of 46% in the exotic fruit and vegetable category.

In Sicily, the avocado harvest will start in a few weeks, with the Bacon, Fuerte and organic Hass being some of the varieties grown here. Sales are mainly carried out through retail platforms and e-commerce, and to foreign wholesalers. In the wholesale markets in Northern Italy there are Israeli Hass avocados and Peruvian Hass avocados, with prices ranging from 3.80 to 4.25 € / 4 kg.

South Africa: Export forecast adjusted downwards
South Africa’s export season is already at 95% completion, and it has been a difficult year due to the lockdown. The sales of the early greenskin avocados in particular were hit hard by the loss of the food service channel.

When Peru entered the market after some struggles, the volumes were 30% higher than expected. The result was an oversupply of avocados and a negative impact on prices. It took a few weeks to get rid of those volumes.

The previous export forecast was revised due to the lower packouts, smaller sizes and also damage to the orchards here and there due to the cold weather. This season, the total therefore reached 15.5 million boxes (4 kg). The first fruits for the next season are already hanging on the trees, but now it’s still too early to make any forecast about that. The risk assessment of South African avocados has started in China. This is a first step to be able to reach this market as well, but the process is expected to take years.

United States: Sufficient stock for the next six months
The US market is currently well supplied of avocados thanks to the volumes coming from Mexico. Traders will have nothing to worry about in this regard for the next 6 months. The “Flora Loca” marks the kick-off of the new Mexican fall avocado season, and that’s just what’s going on in Michoacán state. The fruit being picked now could have actually been harvested 8-10 weeks earlier, and because of that extra time the avocados have been on the tree, the fruits have grown larger.

In the US itself, this year’s harvest in California is about 95% complete. The total volume was estimated at 167,000 tons. Peru is also almost finished and has sold 78,000 tons of avocados on the US market this season. “Last week, 4 more reefers arrived, and then you know that the end is in sight,” says an importer. This will leave Mexico alone in the US avocado market for now, with some small volumes from Chile, which accounts for less than 5% of the total. The price in the US market will mostly determine how much the country will eventually ship. With high prices, it becomes more interesting to export, but at the moment, the prices on the market are below last year’s level, and given the Mexican volumes, this is not expected to change anytime soon. The price may rise towards the end of the season, but there will likely not be a repeat of last year’s sky-high prices.

The market demand is currently stable at 22,000 tons per week, with 15% going to the food service. Normally, this channel takes 30%, but those volumes have been absorbed by the retail. Avocados will soon have to compete on the supermarket shelves with the seasonal autumn products.

China: Further growth in consumption
Colombia, the Dominican Republic, the Philippines and the US have recently been authorized to export to the Chinese market. There is a growing supply in this country, with more varieties and origins, and the demand is also rising year after year. The number of ripening facilities in China is still limited, but also increasing, and there’s even local cultivation in the South Chinese province of Yunnan.

Australia: First trial shipment arrived from Chile
It is now spring in Australia and the country expects the supply of fresh avocados to be resumed in the summer of the Southern Hemisphere. As expected at this time of the year, most of the domestic production on September 19-25 will come from Western Australia (about 30%) and Central New South Wales (about 20%). Fruit from New Zealand has also already entered the Australian market for the 2020/21 summer season.

In September, a small trial shipment of Chilean avocados arrived in Australia by air; the first since the Australian government set phytosanitary import conditions. Two sea freight containers of Chilean avocados are reported to have arrived in Sydney at the end of September. Avocados Australia says that both Chile and New Zealand have unexpected opportunities in the 2020/21 season, given the cold conditions during the flowering and fruit setting in Western Australia last year and the storms in 2020, which have caused a decline in the domestic supply.

However, according to the trade association, this window for imported fruit is closing quickly. The growing areas of Southwest, Western Australia and South Australia, which supply fresh avocados in the spring and summer period, have been considerably expanded. Over time, the need for imports to guarantee a year-round supply in the Australian market will certainly be reduced. Australia expects to produce around 115,000 tons per year by 2025.

As for the pandemic, the Hort Innovation Category and Consumer Impact Monitoring project report that concerns about the coronavirus are beginning to subside in all states and territories except Victoria and New South Wales. For fresh produce, including avocados, this has translated into a decrease in the purchase of canned and frozen fruits and vegetables, and an increase in the importance of health benefits for those who spend more time at home preparing healthy and nutritious meals.

By FreshPlaza

Pricing Soars On Iceberg Lettuce

Prices have spiked on California iceberg lettuce.

“The supply of iceberg is low at the moment industry wide. Yields are lower than normal this time of year due to disease issues,” says Pete Georgalos, Sales for D’Arrigo California. “We’ve also been through a couple of long heat waves this summer.”

Currently, supplies are coming out of the Salinas Valley, CA. “Canada has lettuce but supplies are winding down there. Iceberg lettuce out of Huron, CA start in mid to late October for shippers that still produce there. Our next district will be Yuma, AZ which starts in early November,” says Georgalos. “Supplies will likely not increase until Yuma gets into full swing on production.”

Along with Canada, competing product currently comes from Colorado and New Mexico.

Pressures on demand
Meanwhile solid demand is coming from both domestic retail and foodservice business as well as Canadian demand. “The biggest challenge is producing enough lettuce. It’s difficult this time of year and it’s late in the season to keep up with demand,” says Georgalos.
Of course, this is forcing prices to spike significantly. “The lettuce market is three to four times higher than last year at this time. This year the lettuce market has been $40,” says Georgalos.

He adds that in the next few weeks, not much is expected to change in terms of volume or quality. “Rain and other inclement weather can be factors impacting quality and yield as we move into October,” says Georgalos.

By FreshPlaza

OVERVIEW GLOBAL ONION MARKET

In mid-September, India imposed an export ban on its onions, which immediately resulted in a higher demand for Dutch, Spanish, Egyptian, Turkish and Chinese onions in Asia and the Middle East. This was especially good news for the Netherlands, as it could prevent the oversupply of red onions this year. Furthermore, the new harvest in Europe and the northwestern states of the US is characterized by the lack of thick sizes, which is creating opportunities for other production countries, such as Italy, which has seen a rise in foreign demand this year. Furthermore, onion exports in Australia and New Zealand have increased and the season in Peru started 3 weeks earlier.

The Netherlands: Opportunities for Dutch exporters after ban on Indian exports
The Netherlands has again had an unusual growing season with an extremely dry spring, which has resulted in poor results. There eventually came some rain, otherwise the yields would have been disastrous. Still, these have been affected and there are growing quality issues. According to exporters, the impact of the coronavirus is mainly reflected in problems with payment transactions, although Dutch exporters do see opportunities on the world market this season. At the moment, the demand for Dutch onions mainly comes from two places: West Africa and the Far East. West Africa is now flooded with Dutch onions, although the unexpected halt of exports imposed by India has led to increased demand from Asia. Last year, India already acted unpredictably and that seems to be happening again this time. By the way, exporters say that this increase in the demand is also desperately needed, because the expansion of the red onion acreage would otherwise result in oversupply. In any case, warnings have been issued against speculators, as they may be trying to get advantage once again.

Germany: Average harvest with few large sizes
The onion campaign kicked off at the beginning of this month in northern Germany. In the southern growing areas (Bavaria, Palatinate), the harvest had started earlier. Due to the dry weather recorded in the run-up to the harvest season, an average production is expected with few large sizes.

The acreage is expanding at a quick pace, especially in the North German Lower Saxony. “Every year, a number of producers choose to start growing onions because of financial reasons. As long as onion prices remain on the high side in the coming years, this trend will continue,” they say.

United Kingdom: Despite weather conditions, the season is going relatively well
2020 will go down as a year with a challenging growing season for onions, with one of the wettest winters followed by a very warm and dry spring. Temperatures in June and July soared to record highs, making the onion production less homogeneous. Fortunately, the weather was generally been good during the harvest, and now that most of the production has been harvested, the quality and yield are perceived to be positive. The British onion season is therefore going relatively well. There are some concerns about the consequences of the high soil temperature, especially when it comes to the appearance of fusarium and pink root, which are closely monitored during the storage period.

Due to the coronavirus, there was an incredibly high demand for onions in the spring. However, sales rebounded to a more stable level in May and June. It now remains to be seen what restrictions will follow in the winter months in order to contain the virus and what kind of an impact this will have on the price of onions on the British market.

France: Good yield, but market concerns
This year, the harvest in France is good in terms of both volume and quality. French growers are also satisfied with the sizes and weather conditions during the harvest; however, there are some concerns regarding sales, especially to the hotel and catering industry, which are currently limited.

Austria: Moderate harvest in 2020
Due to the heat, the harvest of the Austrian onions is already coming to an end. In some parts of the country, the production is about 20% below average. Both the domestic demand and exports remain stable. Prices amount to around 0.12 to 0.15 € / kg.

Italy: Much demand from abroad, but the domestic market is lagging behind
The season has started in Italy, and while the demand in the domestic market is still rather small, there is already a high demand for Italian onions from abroad; more than in previous years.

“At the European level, the onion acreage is more or less the same as the average of previous years. The market in Italy is not experiencing a strong push, although there is more demand from abroad,” says an operator from Northern Italy. “High quality Italian onions are in high demand in France, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands, a sign of the lack of premium products in the rest of Europe. There is limited competition from Spain, so European operators are increasingly turning to Italian producers.”

A Campania operator says that, as predicted at the start of the season, the domestic market is very sluggish, as the supply is not in balance with the demand. “There are huge volumes of unsold products available due to the low demand in the domestic market and many wholesalers are complaining about the disappointing trend in the trade. Prices are not encouraging either; the price is down 30% compared to last year.”

Spain: Onion harvest about 40% lower than last year
The acreage devoted to ​​Spanish onions has been reduced by 14% this year. Due to the heat waves in the main growing areas, sizes have generally been quite small. Normally, 30% of the Spanish production consists of large sizes, but this year the share is no higher than 10%. As a result, the production volume is approximately 40% lower than last year.

The market therefore needs onions and the demand has increased significantly, as have prices for growers and traders alike. A considerable shortage of large calibers is expected, which will cause prices to rise. The catering sector is recovering somewhat since the schools reopened after the summer holidays and that is allowing the demand in Spain to increase again. Also worthy of note is India’s ban on the export of its onions, which has increased the demand for the Spanish ones (red and white) in the Middle East and Asia, but especially in Europe, because Dutch exporters are shipping large quantities to markets outside Europe.

India: Export ban at least until November
After prices in the domestic market started to rise significantly, the GOI decided to intervene and imposed an export ban on onions in order to slow down the price increase for consumers. This is the second year in a row that the Indian government has taken this step. The decision was made after a disappointing harvest in Bangalore due to heavy rainfall, which has put a lot of pressure on the harvest in Nashik. The further continuation of the export ban will be decided in November. Everything will depend on the production volume in Kharif. If it isn’t good, the export ban will probably remain in place.

China: Price continues to rise
The export price of onions has risen sharply in recent weeks. There are several reasons for this. First of all, the lockdown due to the coronavirus was lifted some time ago and the demand from the catering industry is starting to increase. At the same time, the logistics processes in the ports have gone back to normal, which means that exports are running smoothly. Moreover, people are actively buying onions of the new season, which are now on the market. Given these three factors, market prices have continued to rise.

This month, India announced a ban on onion exports. Once the ban came into effect, importers from all over Southeast and South Asia turned their eyes to China. In the short term, the market demand has risen sharply and the demand for onions has become greater than the supply, which has led to price increases. The rise in the demand in overseas markets has also had some impact on domestic sales. Currently, the price of onions on the domestic market is also increasing.

United States: Production costs increase for growers in Northwest
The supply of domestic onions is slowly getting underway now that the season is starting in new production areas. The harvest started earlier this year in Washington, Idaho and Oregon, while there are still supplies coming from Utah, Colorado and Michigan. The supply looks normal, but with few large sizes from the northwest. More batches in this size range are expected in two weeks. The demand from the retail is still particularly strong, especially for the smaller sizes. Further down the line, a lot will depend on the opening of schools as the lockdown in the US is lifted.

This year, however, growers also have to contend with some challenges. For example, the smoke from the California wildfires is taking a toll on the crop’s development and delaying the harvest by 7 to 10 days in some places. Also, the sector is dealing with a lack of workers, as well as a shortage of trucks, given the closure of a large transport company. This is driving logistics prices up, and packaging lines have to be planned on time. Still, prices remain stable, with some below the break-even point, as is the case for the jumbo yellow onions. 

Peru: Early start of new season, opportunities on the US market
The Peruvian onion season started in June, three weeks earlier than usual. The campaign is not expected to end any earlier, but will actually continue until January, which is normal. Overall, the market demand has increased as a result of the pandemic. The batches shipped so far this season are arriving on schedule. In general, the Peruvian supply is expected to remain stable this season, and this, in combination with an increase in the demand, will put a lot of pressure on the market. Prices are higher than normal. A bit of a shortage is expected around week 40, as there was a labor shortage due to the pandemic at the beginning of the season and fewer onions were planted. These onions will be ready to be harvested in about two to three weeks, and the volumes will be smaller. Volumes should be back to normal after a few weeks. The US season came to a close a bit earlier than usual for Vidalia and Walla Walla onions and this created a great opportunity for Peru to enter the US market. Peru currently exports its onions to about 17 ports around the world.

Australia: Significant increase in exports
The Australian onion production increased by 4% in the 2018-2019 season, reaching 258,195 tons, and the value grew by 16% to AUD 191.2 million (EUR 115.9 million). Exports increased significantly to 47,490 tons (+56%), with an 81% rise in the value. Fresh exports accounted for 18% of the total production, while 7% went to processing and the remaining 75% to fresh supply. Yellow onions accounted for 79% of the total volume, red onions for 19%, white onions for 1% and shallots/spring onions for less than 1%. 4,983 tons of onions were imported into Australia, most of them from China.

New Zealand: Record high export price of onions
According to the latest figures, the export value has been record high, with 170.3 million NZD (95.4 million Euro). 75% of this (71.7 million Euro) was made from exports to three markets: Continental Europe, with 46.3 million Euro; Indonesia, with 15.6 million Euro, and the UK, with 9.9 million Euro. Onions were the fourth most exported horticultural product in NZ, and compared to 2018, the export value increased by 43.1 million Euro.



By FreshPlaza

Bad Air Quality From California Fires Causes Labor Challenges

It is fire season in California, and this season, though it has only just begun, has been a heavy one. As of September 21st, 2020, over 19,000 frontline firefighters are battling 27 major fires in the state, according to Cal Fire. So far this year, there have been over 7,900 fires total, with over 3.6 million acres being burned. Currently, a lot of the fire activity is occurring in the northern part of the state, and many growers throughout the state are seeing smoke effects on their farms.

While new fires are breaking out frequently, other fires are starting to be well contained. At the end of August, when the CZU Lightning Complex and River fires had only just started, California Giant Berry Farms, who have ranches in the Watsonville and Salinas areas, were closely monitoring the situation. Fortunately circumstances never progressed to seriously affect their operations, and Kyla Oberman comments: “We’re very fortunate and grateful that the fires are finally becoming under control and the smoke has passed to allow for better air conditions.”

Smoke causes air quality issues
For Trinity Fruit, whose farms are located in California’s Central Valley, from Kingsburg to Madera, the fires were located around an hour northeast of their growing regions. “The Central Valley’s air quality was unhealthy going on two weeks now. Our surrounding areas experienced ash, grey skies, and the smell of smoke,” Angela Hernandez of Trinity Fruit shares.

Much further south in Coachella, Bob Harrick of Woodspur Farms is also seeing some smoke above the fields. “We’ve been spared from any significant smoke and fire, but there is a bit of a breathing and air irritant problem,” he shares. “Depending on the way the wind changes, we’d get some smoke from the San Bernardino area, where there are fires. But the crop isn’t affected by this, only the work force. In the summer, the labor force starts at sunrise – at 5 am, and they’re finished no later than 2 pm. The workers wear masks anyways, even if it wasn’t for Covid,” he adds.

For the Mountain Mandarin Growers Association, the smoke has been severe. The growers are located in Placer County, and have fires raging on all sides. Rich Colwell says: “They’re not close enough that we’re worried they’ll reach us, but we have seen a lot of smoke effects: in the past five to six weeks, we’ve had maybe one clear day.” Fortunately, this hasn’t had a direct effect on the orchards, says Colwell. “The orchards themselves are fine at this point. For us, we’ve been fortunate with the timing of these fires, which are actually a lot earlier in the season than they usually are. Our harvest starts in early November, and right now the main work we’re doing is the maintenance of the orchards. We’ve had to take precautions to protect our workers, such as going out much earlier in the mornings and then stopping earlier in the day and providing masks to protect from breathing in harmful air,” he shares.

Heat affects crops
The temperatures throughout California have been high, and this is being exasperated by the fires because the smoke traps some of the heat making the temperatures even higher. “The biggest issue is heat, which has been a factor for our work force. I think we’ve finally turned a corner with the first day of fall today. So, moving forward we’ll be fine. But for people who’ve struggled through the past three weeks when the heat was 120-125 and then having smoke as an irritant, they’ve suffered quite heavily,” says Harrick.

Further north in the state the temperatures have been high too, Colwell shares, saying: “This next week, there’s projections for 100-degree weather, and the smoke raises the temperatures as well. We’re hoping to get some more cool days soon, because the chill in the air is important to allow the mandarins to sweeten and turn orange. If that doesn’t happen somewhere in the next few weeks, we could be seeing a late start to the harvest,” says Colwell.

“Overall, we feel fortunate with regard to the timing of our crop, and that we’re able to pull back and protect our workers at this point in the season. Not only do we want to produce high quality fruit, we also want to do it in the safest way possible while in the middle of a pandemic and surrounded by fires,” Colwell concludes.



By FreshPlaza

North American Growers Adjusting Apple Volume Estimates

While it’s still early in the fall 2020 crop, apple supplies look to be very similar, if not slightly lower in volume, than 2019’s levels.

EAST COAST
Pennsylvania saw spring frost that’s reduced the crop. “I’d estimate it’s about 75 percent of the crop. Size is an unknown too. It appears to be smaller fruit than normal, though some fruit is starting to size up,” says Sandy Cohen of Cohen Produce Marketing in Camp Hill, PA. He adds that while the frost likely affected Red Delicious supplies the most, the state does seem to have more higher-value crops including Honeycrisp, Galas and Fujis.

Meanwhile demand looks strong. “We’re packing as fast as we can pack. I’d expect bag movement to be better than in the past few years only because people are picking up bags for fear of perceived contamination on loose apples. We’re still getting good demand on tray Galas and tray Honeycrisp though,” says Cohen. Also factoring into demand is the USDA Farmers to Families Food Box program, which could be home for smaller apples. “They’ve taken millions and millions of dollars of apples. It’s not retail quality but it’s taking fruit out of the system,” says Cohen.

This leaves pricing potentially stronger for fall. “We’re probably $1-$2 higher on the same packs over last year except for Honeycrisp,” says Cohen. “Only because there are so many more of them and we started out higher last year. I expect by the beginning of October, those prices would be comparable to last year.”

Meanwhile nearby New York state is expecting a strong 2020-21 crop. “Although the spring threw many curveballs in the weather, the majority of crops came out very well and we’ll be able to pack through any spring-related blemishes,” says Tenley Fitzgerald of Glenmont, NY-based New York Apple Sales Inc. Fitzgerald notes the crop should be similar to last season, though it will be slightly down in a few varieties. “We continue to expect our volumes on core varieties such as Honeycrisp, Gala and Fuji to increase, while we also continue to expand our club varieties such as SweeTango®, KORU®, SnapDragon®, RubyFrost® and Evercrisp®,” says Fitzgerald, noting this is also the first year marketing Smitten® and next year New York Apple Sales will have its first substantial harvest of Rave® apples.

Koru apples from New York Apple Sales.

Demand meanwhile looks strong domestically, with particular strength coming from Texas to Wisconsin. “We’re seeing growing demand on the West Coast for some classic New York varieties and clubs,” says Fitzgerald, adding that demand from countries such as Vietnam is also strengthening for club varieties such as SnapDragon and KORU. Pricing overall however is still developing. “So much is unknown on the overall national crop due to potential disruptions in harvesting due to COVID requirements,” says Fitzgerald.

WEST COAST
While the West Coast harvest is also just getting underway, Ray Norwood of Auvil Fruit Company in Orondo, WA says its volumes are so far right on estimate—about a 10 percent increase thanks to new plantings coming on. “But I’m hearing from others in the industry that they might be coming in a little short of estimate. It’s early still though,” says Norwood. Some varieties in particular are up though for Auvil including Granny Smith and Gala.

Adding to that unknown are recent adverse weather conditions. “There’s a lot of smoke here from the West Coast wildfires so it’s been a little tougher. Cohen also adds that over Labor Day weekend, a windstorm in Washington took a lot of fruit down and “beat up a lot of the fruit on the trees.” “How much is yet to be determined though,” he adds, noting he too believes sizing is somewhat down on supplies out of Washington which will impact the crop.

Auvil Fruit Co.’s president of operations, Lee Arthur, inspecting Gala apples.

According to the Washington Apple Commission based in Wenatchee, WA, early August estimates for the state’s crop predicted 134 million boxes—similar to 2019’s 133 million boxes. Since then, those weather events have led to a revised crop estimate—expectations are now for a 5-10 percent reduction in crop volume because of those events.

That said, Norwood says its finding demand challenging for Washington apples right now. “At this time of the year when starting a new crop, it takes awhile for retailers to change over from the summer set with stone fruit and the remainder of the cherries to a fall set with apples and pears,” he says. He as well though notes he’s seen great demand for bagged fruit. “The USDA boxed program also wants bags and the demand has not dropped off for our partners there.” He adds though that its fruit is sizing larger this year which means less for bagged fruit programs.

He also adds that if the crop does end up shorter than estimated, prices might be firmer and possibly higher than average as well.
On both sides of the country, labor—largely accessing the amount of labor needed to harvest the crop—has touched growers coast to coast. “I think we’ll get our crop picked still but it might delay timing a bit,” says Norwood.



By FreshPlaza

OVERVIEW GLOBAL APPLE MARKET

When it comes to top fruit, the southern hemisphere is currently passing the baton to the north. The transition in trade is expected to be smooth, without many major problems. In most of the countries where the apple harvest is just starting there has been a reduction in the production. This is mostly due to sunburn, spring frosts, hail and storms. Most of the increases in terms of volume are due to expansion. Prices have gone up and remain strong almost everywhere with the arrival of the new crop.

The Netherlands: Higher prices than at the start of last year’s season
The apple harvest in the Netherlands is currently halfway through. With the Elstar, most are now in the second harvest, while others are already finishing. The Jonagold, Red Prince, Kanzi and the later varieties will follow. According to a Dutch trader, it is still early to give a forecast when it comes to yields. “In any case, the demand is good, but it has actually been good for months. The market was empty and the imported apples are sold out, so everyone in Europe is switching to their own productions. The prospects are good, although things will become clearer once the harvest arrives. I personally expect that sales in the Netherlands will continue to run smoothly anyway. There are fewer apples and that will certainly result in higher prices than last year.”

Belgium: Smaller harvest due to sunburn and frost
This year, the Belgian apple harvest is noticeably smaller than in previous years. The fruit has been hit severely by frost, but has also suffered sunburn damage during the hot days. This is resulting in remarkable differences in quality between batches.

The supply and the demand are nicely in balance. This is partly due to the fact that the market was almost empty when the season started. Things are looking good for the marketing of Belgian summer apples. The quality of that fruit is good and there is certainly enough demand.

Germany: Domestic production predominates
Domestic apples dominate in the German fruit and vegetable trade. The Elstar, Delbare and Jonagold are the most common varieties, and the Tenroy, Boscoop and Cox Orange complete the range. The volume of Holsteiner Cox and Pinova apples has also increased.

South Tyrol, the German-speaking north of Italy, has traditionally been a major supplier to the German top fruit sector. The Royal Gala, Golden Delicious and Granny Smith are currently the main varieties from this area. Lastly, France is also present in the market with Elstar and Gala. At the same time, Spain is also trying to gain a foothold with relatively cheap Royal Gala and Granny Smith apples. In general, there is a slight oversupply on the market, according to traders.

France: Small, but good quality harvest
The French apple season has already started. The volumes are small (an estimated 1.4 million tons in total), but the quality is good in all respects. Traders are therefore optimistic when it comes to pricing and expect a season without too many difficulties. The volumes of classic varieties such as the Golden and Granny are particularly small after a 19% reduction in the volume compared to last year. For the club varieties, the harvest is estimated to be 5% smaller than in 2019.

United Kingdom: Smooth transition to domestic season expected
The English apple harvest started about ten days ago and the good weather this week is very encouraging for the harvest of the Braeburn and Royal Gala.

This is a challenging season for British apple growers, with unstable weather conditions and the ongoing impact of the coronavirus, but this year’s apples are expected to be particularly tasty. British growers are expected to pick 1.3 billion apples and pears (148,700 tons) this year. The weather throughout the season has taken a severe toll. The volume is about 20% lower than expected and therefore similar to that of 2019.

The Gala is the most common variety among growers in the UK. Volumes have increased by 224% over the past 10 years to an estimated 72,000 tons this year. The Cox remains popular, as do the Braeburn and Jazz, which are also grown in significant volumes. Club varieties such as the Cameo, Junami, Rubens, Evelina and Opal account for an increasingly important share of the national production.

According to a grower, the volumes are in line with the estimates and an increase will be achieved thanks to the investments and new plantings that have been carried out. The transition to the domestic season will be smooth. “This is the last week with supply from the southern hemisphere and the transition to our domestic supply will be carried out smoothly. Due to the good weather conditions, everything is happening on time. “The demand is good at the moment, especially in the south, where people are looking forward to buying British apples of the new season.

Italy: Bad market conditions at start of organic apple season
The Italian apple production is estimated at 2,079,972 tons, which is in line with last year’s production and about 8% lower than the average of the previous 5 years (excluding the final figure for 2017). The Italian organic production has set a new record, with about 178,000 tons, which is 8.5% of the total. This makes Italy the number 1 producer of organic apples in Europe.

Not all areas see the same trend. The production in South Tyrol has been reduced by 7%, while that in Trentino has increased by 5% compared to last season. The structural growth of the Piedmont region continues and this producing region is now the second most important in Italy, only behind Trentino-South Tyrol. The region has many orchards with young plants, and it is also implementing big varietal renewal projects. The yield in Venice, Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Lombardy is recovering slightly. In Emilia-Romagna, the apple harvest has been reduced by almost 8% due to spring frosts.

This year, Italian apples have gained access to the Thai market. About 7-10 days ago, 450,000 Royal Gala Marlene apples from the new crop (60 tons) were shipped to Qatar, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates. The first 15 days of September were not good for organic apples in Italy. Prices were low and the reason for this is not entirely clear. A trader says he doesn’t understand why some companies are selling the product in a hurry. The apples are of good quality, and after a few weeks, this can only improve. In the north of Europe there is a lot of fruit from the southern hemisphere, but nobody is reporting any market surplus. The trader also says that no full production is expected this year, as spring frosts in Poland and other eastern countries have significantly reduced the productive potential.

Spain: No more stocks from the previous season; higher prices on the market
The Spanish apple season started this year with better prices and a higher demand for exports. Since the outbreak of the coronavirus crisis, apple sales have increased significantly, so the new harvest will start this summer without any stocks from the previous season. Also, the stone fruit season finished about two weeks earlier this year due to shortages in the production, and with very good results, leaving more room for apple sales.

Moreover, the harvest volume will be reduced by around 15% this year. There are some issues with blotchiness in the fruit’s skin, so the marketable volume will be smaller. The varieties with the most significant drop in the production are the Red Delicious, Golden and Granny Smith. In general, prices are better and the sector hopes that growers can offset the higher costs in the production chain as a result of the pandemic.

Poland: More class 2 fruit than last year due to hail and frost
The Polish apple harvest could start at any time with the first Gala apples. Due to the impact of spring frosts, the volume is expected to be 10 to 15% lower than average, but still greater than last year’s. Due to the damage, fewer apples will be suitable for export. The price has increased in recent months and this trend is expected to continue at the start of the new harvest. As far as prices are concerned, the season is expected to be better than the previous one.

Turkey: Position remains stable
There is a good demand for Turkish Gala apples. The country’s apple production has increased compared to last year, as have the production costs. However, thanks to the exchange rate between the Lira and the USD, prices haven’t changed much for the buyers. The fruit is mostly in demand in India and the Gulf countries; however, Russia and other Asian countries have also shown themselves to be great markets for the Turks this season.

South Africa: Prospect of a good season thanks to favorable winter
Last week’s overview of the global pear market already made it clear that the Cape has had one of the best winters in years, and at the moment, it is still cold and wet. Apple orchards are now slowly awakening in the Western Cape. The first apples for the new season are the locally grown varieties from Limpopo. These hit the market a week before Christmas and are mainly intended to be sold domestically. Growers are already working in the thinning of what appears to be a very good harvest. In weeks 2-3, the apples from the eastern Free State and Mpumalanga will follow (accounting for 2% of the total production, with conventional varieties with a higher cold resistance). Apple orchards are currently in bloom here and unless a cold snap arrives, the harvest is expected to be an average one.

Last season was good as far as the quality was concerned, but there were logistical problems (the season overlapped with the coronavirus lockdown and the problems in Cape Town), but according to a trader, apple exports at least yielded good results (in the markets that were not severely disrupted), as healthy eating became a priority for consumers.

India: Imports fall due to new domestic harvest
With the start of the harvest in India, imports are going to lose relevance, including those of popular apples from Chile and New Zealand. Domestic apples are cheaper, so from August to January, these are the ones preferred by consumers. The Indian apple production will be significantly smaller this year due to challenging weather conditions. Northern India will produce 30% less apples. Another problem is the lack of large apple sizes. The country is also looking for alternatives in the import market, and Serbia could become a new supplier in the coming weeks.

China: Reluctance to sell in the apple market
The price of Chinese apples from storage in the Shandong Province has recently increased by 0.2 Yuan (0.025 Euro / 0.03 USD). Some growers and traders are still reluctant to sell. The reason is that both the price of early apples and the price of the last apples in stock are important ahead of a bountiful harvest. The price of red Fuji apples at the end of September and the beginning of October will depend on these prices of early season apples and of the last apples from storage. On September 4, 19 tons of Fuji apples from Gansu were exported to Australia. It is the first time that apples from this province have been shipped to the Australian market.

United States – Pennsylvania: Start of the season with higher prices
The production in Pennsylvania has been affected by spring frosts and been reduced by about 25%. The fruit’s sizes currently appear to be smaller than usual. The weather has taken a toll on the supply of Red Delicious. The demand is now strong, especially for apples in trays, because consumers are very afraid of contamination from loose apples. The USDA has withdrawn millions of smaller apples from the market to donate them to American families. The prices now, just before the fall, are strong, about $ 1- $ 2 higher than last year, with the exception of the Honeycrisp. At the beginning of October, prices are expected to be comparable to last year’s.

United States – New York: Growing popularity of club varieties and classic varieties
In New York State, a great harvest is expected in the 2020-21 season; similar to that of the previous campaign. Growers expect the volumes of Honeycrisp, Gala and Fuji to increase, and club varieties like the SweeTango, KORU, SnapDragon, RubyFrost and Evercrisp are also expanding. The Smitten will also arrive in the market for the first time this year and Rave apples will have their first substantial harvest. The demand for New York apples domestically is strong, especially in the area from Texas to Wisconsin. On the west coast, some classic New York varieties are also in demand, and in countries like Vietnam, buyers seek club varieties like the SnapDragon and KORU. Market prices have yet to stabilize.

United States – Washington: High demand for bagged apples
Washington state expects a 10% increase in the volume from new plantings; however, the weather conditions are a source of uncertainty. Growers in the state have had to deal with the smoke from the recent wildfires on the west coast, and a storm in early September caused severe damage to the fruit. Some growers also believe that Washington’s expected supply will decrease somewhat, and that this will have an impact on the harvest. According to the Washington Apple Commission, early August estimates for the state’s harvest predicted 134 million boxes, which is comparable to 2019’s 133 million boxes, although that figure will drop by 5-10 percent.

However, the demand still poses a challenge. Growers see that retailers still have to switch from summer fruit to top fruit. The demand for bagged apples is high. The issue is that smaller sizes tend to be used for this format, and this year’s sizes appear to be larger. Given that this year’s harvest is smaller than initially thought, prices will rise and probably reach above average levels. The harvest could still be delayed (throughout North America) due to a shortage of workers.

Chile – Campaign comes to an end
The season for Chile is currently winding down, as the US domestic apple market is starting to pick up. Chile comprises 2% of the world’s apple production, and exports are the main activity for them. The estimate for this year is to export between 1.6 and 1.7 million metric tons when the season ends. There has been a 13% reduction in the surface area of apple cultivation in the past 5 years. Royal Gala is the largest variety with 45% of the production. There’s also been diversification of exports recently with South American countries taking up a larger share than they have in the past.

Argentina – Focus still on traditional varieties
Argentina’s exports have been decreasing over the years, down by about 40%. The main reason for this is because the focus of the apple production is on the traditional varieties such as Red Delicious and Granny Smith. In 2019 the production was around 550,000 metric tons, of which 100,000 tons were exported. 2020 numbers aren’t available yet.

New Zealand: Apple exports have doubled since 2012; a quarter intended for export
The value of New Zealand’s apple exports has doubled since 2012, generating more than NZD 820 million (€ 466.2 million) by the end of 2019. New Zealand varieties such as the Jazz, Envy and Pacific accounted for more than a quarter of exports, but the Royal Gala recorded the highest export share, with 31%. Europe (22%) was the main destination for New Zealand’s apples, followed by the UK / Ireland (12%), while North America and China both accounted for 11%. In total, 395,000 tons of apples were grown in New Zealand in 2019.

Australia: Rising value of apples
The value of the Australian apple production increased by 10% in the fiscal year that ended on June 2019, reaching $ 512.8 million AUD (€ 317.2 million). However, the volume fell by 1%, to 310,875 tons. Exports also dropped by 13%, to 4,416 tonnes, and their value decreased by 6%, to AUD 10.6 million (€ 65.6 million). 70% of the total production in Australia went to the fresh market and the other 30% went to processing. The Pink Lady was the most widely produced variety (41%), followed by the Royal Gala (23%) and Granny Smith (18%).

One of the newer apple brands in Australia, Kanzi, closed the season a little earlier than expected due to a smaller harvest. The volumes were affected by dry weather, forest fires, floods and hail.

By FreshPlaza

US: Wildfires And High Winds Lead To Reduction Of Apple Harvest

In early August, the first estimate for the Washington apple crop predicted a crop volume of 134 million boxes (40 lb.), on par with the previous season of 133 million boxes. Since the time of the initial estimate, extreme windstorms, wildfires on the West Coast, and more accurate reporting of crop load on the trees as harvest progressed, suggest a lighter total crop volume for the 2020-21 apple harvest.

Over Labor Day weekend, a strong windstorm resulted in apples being knocked off the tree and some growers sustaining damage to their trellis systems. Fueled by the wind event, wildfires burning in Washington and other West Coast states have produced intense smoky conditions, delaying harvest a few days as some areas have had to halt operations. The expectations are for a reduction up to 10% in crop volume as a result of the adverse weather events.

Washington apple growers and orchard crews started picking Galas in late August and have since moved on to Honeycrisp. Harvest in Washington typically begins mid-August and lasts into November. Red Delicious, Fuji and Cosmic Crisp® will be harvested in October and the season will wrap up with Granny Smith and Cripps Pink in November.

Demand for Washington apples has been high in response to elevated health-conscious and bulk-purchase behavior by consumers. Volume of apples shipped during this time period is slightly lower than last season, but overall movement is good. Suppliers are working hard to meet the demand and keep on pace with season goals.

Washington is the leading producer of apples, representing 65 percent of all U.S. fresh apple production. The state exports one-third of its fresh crop to over 60 markets worldwide, accounting for 95 percent of all U.S. apple exports.

The Washington Apple Commission is a non-profit, promotional organization dedicated to marketing and advertising fresh Washington apples internationally.

By FreshPlaza

[Press Release] Governments Urged To Support ePhyto To Aid Global Agribusiness

This content has been published as provided by its author. It has only been modified from its original version to follow Produce Report editorial guidelines and for necessary website formatting.

The Industry Advisory Group (IAG) of the IPPC ePhyto Solution calls on governments to support the adoption of ePhyto to facilitate international agricultural trade, which would be crucial in safeguarding global food security beyond the COVID-19 recovery period.

Global trading operations of plant products rely on crucial communication and transparency of phytosanitary requirements to protect plant health and ensure international unrestricted and safe trade of goods. Phytosanitary certificates facilitate such trade and benefit plant production sectors as well as consumers. Electronic certification as part of a broader endeavor for trade facilitation has proven itself indispensable during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to maintain continuity of agricultural trade despite limitations on air traffic and courier services. The IPPC ePhyto Solution is a globally uniform approach with improved crisis resilience, consistency, security, fraud prevention, sustainability and replacement of paper documentation. The IAG, which is comprised of a consortium of industry associations representing the global trade of plant products, calls on policymakers to commit to a faster onboarding to the IPPC ePhyto Solution and accelerated access for all countries, including developing and least developed economies, regardless of infrastructure capacity.


The ePhyto Solution is founded in the standards of the only international convention for plant protection, the IPPC, and was intended to eventually become a permanent replacement for paper certificates even before the pandemic began. The ePhyto Solution is led by the IPPC Secretariat with the involvement of other international organizations and governments, to which 90+ countries are registered. A number of countries such as Argentina, Chile, Fiji, Ghana, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Samoa and the U.S. are already operating the system to transmit phytosanitary certificates safely from NPPO to NPPO. The EU TRACES system was connected to the ePhyto Hub in May 2020 for imports only with the aim to be fully operational by the end of the year. For the full list of registered countries please visit www.ephytoexchange.org.

The IAG welcomes the actions of many governments to implement contingency plans that include acceptance of digital attachments, signatures and copies for trade-related documents during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Electronic trading documentation should not only be seen as a one-off, emergency measure, but as a permanent solution to ensure plant product trade is crisis-resilient in the future and that goods can keep moving efficiently. The IAG is concerned that many countries have taken a very individual path to digital certification, which may end when the emergency measures expire. This has unfortunately led to additional work and for both operators and government organizations.

The IAG is highly supportive of the further development of the ePhyto Solution and sees it as the responsibility of governments and policymakers to ensure the sustainability of the project until fully operational, as well as ensuring that all types of economies and including necessary capacity development. The IAG emphasizes:

  1. Support for an all-encompassing adoption of a fully functioning ePhyto exchange model, with the proactive involvement of the entire supply chain, and no requirements to maintain paper certificates.
  2. The need for private sector operators to continue to practice well-established, efficient and safe trade.
  3. Government engagement with IAG industry representatives working around the world to provide practical insights on the commercial impacts of the system via the “industry case studies,” to contribute to a strong IPPC ePhyto Solution.

Ultimately the IAG hopes to work with all actors for a successful deployment of the IPPC ePhyto Solution including policymakers, national and regional plant protection organizations, and customs experts worldwide.

For more information on the project please click here or contact Natalia Santos of Freshfel (nominated communications coordinator for the IAG) at n.santos@freshfel.org.

ABOUT THE IPPC EPHYTO SOLUTION

The IPPC ePhyto Solution is the digital transmission system for phytosanitary certificates of the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC). The IPPC ePhyto Industry Advisory Group (IAG) supports the IPPC ePhyto Solution by providing relevant perspectives from global plant product trade flows including cut flowers, cocoa, cotton, fresh fruit and vegetables, grains, hay and forage, seeds and wood products. For example, the IAG advises the IPPC on the feasibility and facilitation of efficient and effective trade flows. The IAG is comprised of specialists from the not-for-profit associations with international scope who support the commercial trade that is impacted by phytosanitary certification conducted under the convention.

By Produce Report

Markon And PRO*ACT Provide Updates On California Fire Impacts

CALIFORNIA – As the end of August and beginning of September have brought about some of the worst fires in California history, individuals and companies across the produce industry are dealing with the repercussions of the excessive heat, smoke, and ash being generated. Currently, 2.1 million acres being burned by wildfires across the state, and additional fires have started in Oregon and Washington. Markon and PRO*ACT are two such companies that have already seen crop impacts as they have shared valuable updates.

While the months of July and August saw a fight against mold, mildew, and disease for many Salinas Valley growers, including those partnered with PRO*ACT, due to warm temperatures and humidity. The recent fires have brought about an intense change as soaring temperatures reaching 115 degrees have caused damage to lettuce and other crops in the region.

As California continues to control the 2.1 million acres being burned by wildfires, Markon and PRO*ACT shared valuable updates in regards to the crop impacts in key growing regions.

While the companies report that long-term effects on fields have yet to appear, the falling ash and smoke filling the sky have already shown impacts according to both Markon and PRO*ACTS releases. Quality, yields, and shelf life are being affected by the extreme conditions. Additionally, some growers have had to leave behind acreage due to damages.

Markon has reported that it will face harvesting delays as the smoke in the air has made it dangerous for workers, especially due to the lack of light needed for safety reasons as smoke blocks out much of the sunlight. Both companies have also reported ash build up on produce as well as fringe burn, tip burn, sunscald, discoloration, dehydration, and texture effects on lettuce crops. PRO*ACT has also announced similar impacts on its broccoli and cauliflower fields.

Farmers and growers across the state continue to deal with the repercussions of the excessive heat, smoke, and ash, leading to harvesting delays, fringe burn, tip burn, sunscald, discoloration, dehydration, and texture effects (Photo credit: PRO*ACT)

Farmers and growers across the state continue to deal with the repercussions of the excessive heat, smoke, and ash, leading to harvesting delays, fringe burn, tip burn, sunscald, discoloration, dehydration, and texture effects (Photo credit: PRO*ACT)

The next few weeks will be pivotal in determining the health of future yields, as lower temperatures and a strong marine layer are predicted. Our hearts and minds are with those who are fighting against the fires, and the companies across our industry who are being affected.

By AndNowUKnow

OVERVIEW GLOBAL PEAR MARKET

The pear harvest is in full swing in the northern hemisphere. The European volume is 12% greater than last year, but still remains 4% below the annual average of the period between 2015 and 2018. Countries such as the Netherlands, Belgium and France record either stability in the volumes or growth, while southern European countries report drops in the production. In the US, there has been a slight increase in the volume and growth in the share of organic pears. In South Africa, the prospects for the new season are positive thanks to the good weather conditions this winter. In China, the volume of the new harvest has also dropped and there is up to 70% less Crown pears.

Netherlands: Trade is under pressure, but stabilization is expected
In the Netherlands, the Conference harvest has come to an end and pears are going into storage. The volumes are in line with the previously estimated forecasts. There are much bigger sizes, especially those that were picked in the week of August 31. The market is under some pressure and the prices at the auctions are constantly falling; nevertheless, traders expect this situation to stabilize soon. Besides the Dutch Conference, the market also has Italian pears such as the Abate Fetel and Kaiser, as well as Williams from France. In contrast to last year, the shortages in Italy haven’t been as bad as in 2019 and trucks full of Belgian and Dutch pears have gone to Southeast Europe.

Belgium: Smaller sizes than last year
The vast majority of Belgian Conference pears have already been picked and are in chambers. Despite the measures against the coronavirus that growers have been forced to implement, the harvest has gone smoothly and the pears have arrived on time. A Belgian fruit grower and trader is very happy with the quality. The pears are hard and the taste is sweet because of the many hours of sunshine that the pears have been exposed to. In general terms, the sizes are slightly smaller than last year, but the volume is slightly larger.

Given that the pear market is empty, the freshly-picked ones of size 55 and above are sold at decent prices. The prices of sizes 45 and 50 are still falling a bit, but the trader expects them to rise again when the programs restart.

Germany: Expansion of domestic supply
Italy dominates the supply in the German wholesale market with the Santa Maria, and the Abate Fetel has also gained ground in recent weeks. The Boscs Flaschenbirnen and Williams Christ are the other varieties that are part of the Italian pear range. Turkey is currently supplying Santa Maria, as is Spain, which also exports the Limonera variety. The demand and supply of domestic Williams Christ, Clapps Liebling and Boscs Flaschenbirne pears is growing significantly. In general, the supply is sufficient to meet the demand. Despite this, prices have been reduced here and there to prevent oversupply.

When it comes to domestic cultivation, it is worth mentioning the strong expansion of the Xenia pear in the Lake Constance area. While about 1,400 tons were harvested in 2018, in 2019 the total harvest volume reached 2,500 tons. Within a few years, the goal is to be able to sell around 5,000 tons of regional fruit.

Italy: Lower volume of pears in Italy
According to the forecasts of CSO Italy, the European pear production stands at 2,199,000 tons; an increase of 12% compared to 2019, which was a particularly bad year as far as the volume was concerned. However, the production is still smaller (-4%) than the 2015-2018 average. This is due to severe weather-related damage in some production areas, namely as a result of spring frosts, rain during the flowering and hail during the fruit’s growth. Meanwhile, Spain and Portugal also report drops in the production as a result of climate and environmental damage, while Belgium, the Netherlands and France have achieved stability or growth.

Italy will produce fewer pears than in an average year. The average production in the period 2015-2018 was about 730 million tons, while in 2020 the production is expected to reach between 500,000 and 550,000 tons. This drop can be attributed to the spring cold and the impact of the Alternaria disease. The brown marmorated stink bug caused less damage than in 2019. The harvest of all varieties is now complete. In practice, the Abate is the only variety that has experienced such a marked decline.

On September 9, 2020, the situation of Italian pears didn’t seem too dramatic. A specialist operator says that “November is the month that will give us the first real answers as regards the Abate pear campaign, which will be marked by a 35% drop in the volume compared to 2018. The sizes 60 / 65 and 65 / 70 will perhaps be under some pressure in October. As for the remaining varieties, the harvest and sale of the Carmen has been completed, most of the batches of the Santa Maria have been placed in storage to be sold later, and the smaller sizes under 65 are sold out. The Williams pear harvest is good, in line with the average for the period between 2016 and 2018. The fruits are very large, which will put additional pressure on the price of size 70+. As for the Kaiser, the production is about average. The largest sizes will be on the market in 2-3 weeks and will remain until the end of March.”

Organic production has developed in recent years and now accounts for 5-6 percent of the total volume, or about 40,000 tons, according to CSO Italy. In recent seasons, Italian pear exports have reached 145,000 tons, with the organic production accounting for around 10,000 tons.

Spain: Season starts with higher demand for pears
The 2020/2021 pear season is already underway in Spain. In Lleida, sales of the Limonera variety started on July 22, the first Conference pears arrived on August 31 and the Blanquilla is expected to hit the shelves around September 15. Thus, the season has started at around the same time as last year. Due to the heavy rain showers recorded in spring, this year’s production will drop by between 4-5%, depending on the variety and the production area. A volume of about 300,000 tons is expected.

Although the size of the Conference pears will be smaller this year (a widespread problem in Europe), the fruit generally has more russeting on the skin, something Spanish consumers appreciate in the variety. Limonera pears have reached similar calibers to those of the previous seasons. The campaign started with a slightly higher demand compared to the beginning of last year. However, the sector expects the demand to increase noticeably from the third week of September, as the stone fruit season ended two weeks earlier this year due to a remarkable drop in the supply. Also striking is the impact that the coronavirus pandemic has had on pear consumption in Spain. Since the lockdown in Spain, the consumption of pears has increased significantly, especially in the case of packaged pears. The demand increased so much that the season came to a close more than a month earlier than usual. That is why the sector is optimistic ahead of this new season.

Spanish Conference pears compete strongly with Belgian pears. The production in Belgium is comparable to last year’s, so there will again be a lot of competition in terms of prices, even though the calibers are a bit smaller. For its part, Italy reported a sharp drop in the production last year, but volumes are recovering this time, so Spanish exporters don’t expect to fill gaps in the supply in Italy like they did last year.

South Africa: Good prospects for the new season, Abate Fetel popular with growers
In the producing regions of South Africa, the current winter is one of the best ones for pears in 7-8 years. The prospects for the coming season for the South Western Cape are therefore excellent.

The full bloom has not yet started. It may take a bit longer for the early BCs (Bon Cretien, Williams or Bartlett) and for the Forelle due to the cold winter, so the season could be delayed. The market now mainly demands early blush pears such as the Rosemarie, Flamingo, Cheeky and Celina. In the meantime, old orchards are being renewed and the pear variety Beurre Bosc is being removed due to a lack of demand. Some BCs (Bon Chretien / Williams / Bartlett) orchards are also being removed. Usually 40% of this volume is exported and the remaining 60% goes to the processing industry (for drying or canning). The latter activity is no longer financially viable.

The pear variety that is most popular among growers in South Africa is the Abate Fetel. It is a bit more difficult to grow, but it ensures the highest yield per hectare of all varieties in South Africa.

China: Lower production, but with quiet market
So far, most of the fruit has been harvested and placed in cold storage. The weather conditions have not been favorable and this has caused the production of many varieties to drop. The production of Crown pears has been reduced by 70%.

When it comes to domestic sales, the price at origin is higher than in previous years due to the lower volume, so the retail price has also increased. However, consumption is lower than normal, so sales in the local market are slower. In general, the reduction in the volumes has not caused any shortages, so the market is relatively calm.

As for exports, the volumes are gradually going back to normal. This is the first year that Chinese pears are allowed to be exported to Brazil. A few companies shipped pears to Brazil at the beginning of this year and sales went smoothly. Some companies wanted to continue exporting in larger quantities, but the coronavirus has made it difficult to visit the local orchards, so the export plan has been postponed.

United States: Increase in the supply of organic pears
According to a grower from Washington state, the supply of pears from the northwest of the country has increased by 2.1%. The sizes are similar to last year’s and a lot of fruit is currently hanging on the trees. The harvest kicked off with the Bartlett in August, a week earlier than usual. The harvest of the Anjou started last week. The share of organic pears is on the rise in the US, and Asian organic pears are now a popular niche. The demand for pears is stable, and the number of shipments has actually increased by 24%. Around July, the demand fell by 2% in terms of value, but this was partly due to a drop in the volume. The demand on the domestic market will rise again ahead of the fall. Due to the coronavirus, there is more demand for packaged pears. Of the total volume on the shelves, 25% is now packaged, compared to 18% before the coronavirus.

There is now also a good supply of Bartlett and Bosc pears from California and this week the Comice, French Butter and Seckels will follow, but there are great regional differences in the state of California with, for example, a small harvest in Sacramento. The harvest started in the state a week later than usual. The production is somewhat smaller, resulting in higher prices.

Australia: New pear club variety grown in Australia for the first time
Growers across Australia have started planting the first QTee pear trees, a new aromatic red pear. Horticulture Brand Management Australia Pty Ltd (HBMA) now has the Australian license for this pear. The QTee is originally from Norway.

According to the latest data from Hort Innovation (June 2019), Australia’s total pear production has been slightly reduced. The volume has dropped by 4%, to 114,496 tons, but the value has increased to 115.4 million AUD (70.9 million Euro). Exports have also fallen by 26% in terms of volume, to 9,190 tons, and by 16% in terms of value, to AUD 16.4 million (EUR 10 million). New Zealand (26%) and Indonesia (17%) were the largest export destinations. Meanwhile, 34% of the total production went to processing.

By FreshPlaza

Salinas Crops Continue To See Effects From Fires

The fires near Salinas, CA, growing regions in August continue to cause problems for growers, even after many have been contained.

Over the Labor Day weekend, firefighters contained two major fires in Monterey County, the 48,000 acre River Fire and the 6,900 acre Carmel Fire.

Mark Shaw, vice president of operations for Markon Cooperative, BB #:123315 Salinas, said ashes from the fires remain a problem for many crops.

The entire Salinas Valley, from the far Southern reaches of the Valley to the North, the mouth of the valley, had ashes falling on it from the Salinas River Fire,” he said. “The Hollister Valley also had ash falling on it from the SCU Lightning Complex fire (Southern end of the Bay Area).”

Shaw said Markon has seen ash affect leaf crops the most, with inspectors finding ashes down in the hearts of plants, which can’t be removed by harvest crews.

“The only way to remove the ash is to remove the butt end of the plant and wash the remaining leaves with cool clean water,” he said. “Any value added packs are virtually clear of ash due to the washing systems processors have in place.”

Markon reports the following crop information:

Iceberg Lettuce
Supplies are decreasing, and the market is on the rise due to decreasing harvestable supplies.
-Two major challenges growers are facing, Impatiens Necrotic Spot Virus (INSV) and Sclerotinia Disease;
-Both challenges either kill the plant before harvest, or affects quality in such a manner the plant is not harvestable;
-Expect the iceberg market to continue to move upward during the week of September 7, and more than likely steady out the following week.

Romaine Lettuce
Suppliers will be limited through mid-September.
-Abnormally high heat received in mid-August has affecting quality, as well as increased demand from the USDA Farmers to Families Food Box Program have reduce available open market supplies;
-California’s recent heatwave on the Central Coast has created heat related defects such as internal burn, seeder, sun scalding, and dehydration;
-Expect these defects to persist well into September due another heat spike expected on the Central Coast starting Saturday, September 5 through Monday, September 7.

Tender Leaf Varieties
Due to recent warm weather, tender leaf quality and supply levels have been affected.
-Dehydration, early breakdown, shortened shelf-life, and yellowing leaves are quality-related concerns due to higher-than-normal temperatures;
-Spinach and Arugula are especially susceptible to heat-related defects;
-Volume has been greatly impacted by recent heat waves;
-Expect tight supplies on Spinach and Arugula through mid-September, as more hot weather is expected in the Salinas Valley over the next week.

Broccoli
Supplies are tightening and the market has been on a consistent slow rise over the past two weeks.
-As of Friday, September 4, the market for a domestic crown was sitting in the mid-upper teens price range;
-Abnormally high temperatures on California’s Central Coast from Thursday through Monday, August 13 to 17 stressed the broccoli plants considerably, to the point it slowed maturity considerably;
-Quality defects as well as deceased maturity has continued to reduce harvestable yields over the past two weeks, and expect to persist through mid-September;
-Quality defects: dehydration, hollow core, pin rot and brown bead have been prevalent.

Cauliflower
Supplies are more plentiful than broccoli.
-Market has been steady at the bottom for 5 weeks now, but ready to start making a move upward;
-Yields are down due to abnormally warm temps reducing plant maturity and created some quality defects;
-Market is not expected move as fast or maintain itself as long as the broccoli market has.

By Produce Blue Book

With Demand Still High, Lemon Prices Stabilize

Citrus demand has been huge during the pandemic, including lemons.

But prices have stabilized in the past month to a similar level as last year.

A combination of stronger interest in lemons and lower foodservice demand has seen retail sales as much as 30 percent higher than the same time last year.


SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA F.O.B. PRICES FOR CONVENTIONAL 165S YELLOW LEMONS.


In the last four months, the F.O.B. price for California conventional 165s has been showing a slight upward trend, from the low $20s to low $30s, said Raul Lopez, agronomist and vice president of Agtools Inc. BB #:355102

Blue Book has teamed with Agtools Inc., the data analytic service for the produce industry, to look at a handful of crops and how they’re adjusting in the market during the pandemic.

These prices are lower in 2020 than 2019 but show the same tendency. As of late the prices have been steady with a slightly higher price just in these past couple of weeks.

In comparison with 2018, the 2020 prices were similar during the month of May. In 2018 around August prices skyrocketed to $60, while the last two years the August period has been much more affordable.


NEW YORK TERMINAL MARKET PRICE FOR CONVENTIONAL 165S LEMONS


In the case of the New York terminal market, prices show the same behavior as the F.O.B. prices, Lopez said. With a slow upward trend, reaching $44 per case. This market shows small high-lows, but in the same trend.


RETAIL PRICES IN THE NORTHEAST REGION

Prices for consumers also show the same trend in the Northeast region, Lopez said. In 2020, the consumers are paying higher prices than 2019. Last year, this commodity had a very steady price. Lately, there was a big increase in the third week of August, that is not normal, however in general lemons are having higher prices.



By Blue Book Services

Taiwan Becomes Sixth Largest Export Market for US Cherries

According to trade data from Taiwan’s Council of Agriculture, cherries were the third largest fruit category imported into Taiwan in terms of value in 2019, with the import value totaling $102 million, surpassed only by apples and kiwifruit. The island’s mostly subtropical climate makes its cherry supply completely reliant on imports. Imports of cherries and other stone fruit into Taiwan typically peak during the summer months and fall considerably when the weather turns cold.

As the U.S. is a major supplier of cherries to the island, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service recently published a brief report outlining the cherry and stone fruit market in Taiwan.

The island has so far fared relatively well during the COVID-19 pandemic, with only 487 confirmed cases, 462 recovered cases and 7 deaths at the time of publication. Consequently, the pandemic has had only a limited impact on economy and trade, and cherry imports in marketing year (MY) 2020/21 (April–March) are forecast to reach 12,000 metric tons, a slight increase over the 11,199 tons imported during MY 2019/20.

According to the report, consumers in Taiwan have a strong preference for sweet cherries, with 8.5–9.0 row as the most popular size. It is worth noting that Washington Rainier cherries attract a premium on the market owing to their appealing appearance, unique color and excellent taste. Meanwhile, tart cherries are predominantly consumed in the form of processed products and juices.

In calendar year 2019, the total value of fresh and frozen fruit imported into Taiwan reached $694 million, with the U.S. ($259 million), New Zealand ($154 million) and Chile ($98 million) being the top suppliers. The majority of imported cherries also originated from the U.S.

In MY 2019/20, Taiwan imported 11,199 tons of cherries, with 7,984 tons (71%) coming from the U.S. Consequently, Taiwan is currently the sixth largest export market for U.S. cherries. Despite falling U.S. cherry production in marketing year 2020/21, the outlook for cherry imports into Taiwan remains very promising. As the supply season of U.S. cherries coincides with Taiwan’s most scorching months, most of these cherries reach the island by air.

During the off-season for U.S. cherries, the majority of cherry imports into Taiwan originate from Southern Hemisphere countries, namely, Chile, New Zealand and Australia. In MY 2019/20, Taiwan imported 1,972 tons, 896 tons and 224 tons of cherries from Chile, New Zealand and Australia, accounting for 18%, 8% and 2% of the total import volume, respectively.

Although mainland China also supplies some cherries to the island, the overall volume of this cross-strait trade is quite small, reaching only 10 tons ($8,000) in calendar year 2019.

With respect to tariffs, New Zealand enjoys the advantage of duty-free cherry exports to Taiwan. However, the limited supply and the fact that the peak availability of New Zealand’s cherries occurs during a period of decreased demand in Taiwan limit the market share. With the exception of New Zealand, most cherries entering Taiwan face a 7.5% tariff.

By Produce Report

US Apple Production Declines Slightly, Gala Still Top Variety

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s August crop production estimates, the production volume of fresh and processed apples in 2020 is forecast to reach 253.6 million cases of 42 pounds (19 kilograms) each, a decrease of 3.3% compared with last year’s 262.3 million cases. All apple-producing states with the exception of Oregon (4.28 million cases, +20% year-on-year) are expected to witness a decline in production this year, including Washington (176.2 million cases, −2.7% YOY), New York (30.9 million cases, −1.6% YOY), Michigan (21.9 million cases, −2.8% YOY), Pennsylvania (10 million cases, −17.2% YOY), California (6.42 million cases, −11.5% YOY) and Virginia (3.8 million cases, −15.8% YOY).

Washington State is the most important apple-producing region in the U.S. and accounts for 69.5% of national apple production. In a press statement, Washington State Tree Fruit Association President Jon DeVaney said, “The 2020 Washington state apple crop looks to be similar in size to last year’s. Harvest is underway and growers anticipate being able to meet strong consumer demand with an ample and high-quality harvest. Our members are growing large crops, but with more varieties to choose from and while continuing to raise the already high standards of quality that domestic and international consumers have come to expect.” Washington’s apple harvest will start this month and continue into November, making the final production volume subject to changes in weather over the next few months, the association noted.

According to the association’s data, Gala apples will continue to have the highest sales volume for the second consecutive year. Gala apples account for 23% of Washington’s total apple production, compared to Red Delicious at 17%, Fuji at 14%, Honeycrisp and Granny Smith at 13% each and Cripps Pink at 5%. The production volume of the Cosmic Crisp variety has been increasing the fastest, and this variety is projected to account for 1.2% of production this year. Meanwhile, the production of organic apples is expected to reach 21 million cases, corresponding to 16% of the state’s fresh apples. In contrast, the total production of organic apples in 2019 was 15 million cases.

In Michigan, the harvest of early-maturing varieties such as Paula Red and Ginger Gold will begin on time toward the end of this month. According to the Michigan Apple Committee, Gala apples will begin to be harvested on around Sept. 8, with Honeycrisps starting approximately 10 days later. Michigan’s unusually cold winter last year delayed spring growth; some orchards faced heavy frost as late as May. The committee’s Executive Director Diane Smith said in a press release, “Michigan’s apple growers have continued to work through the crisis and apples continue to grow. Right now they are ripening on trees and will be ready for consumers to enjoy in just a few short weeks.” According to the committee, there are 14.9 million apple trees in commercial production in the state, covering 34,500 acres spread across 775 family-run farms.

At the same time that production has been declining, the demand for U.S. apples has been increasing. Traders in Washington State have reportedly shipped over 2 million boxes in the last 10 weeks. Although consumers have not been going to supermarkets as frequently owing to the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic, they tend to buy in higher volumes every time they do, and apples have become a favorite for shoppers to stockpile because of their prolonged shelf life. Meanwhile, purchasing apples online has also become popular, and exceptional demand is expected for Gala, Honeycrisp and other apple varieties.

By Produce Report

Salinas Moves Toward business As Usual After Wildfires

Produce industry operations in Salinas, Calif., had mostly returned to normal Aug. 27, one week after two wildfires threatened the region, prompting evacuations for some employees, dumping ash onto crops, and significantly worsening air quality.

“Harvest was impacted considerably by the wildfires due to both the smoke and ash as well as the heat wave we experienced leading up to the fires,” Josh Ruiz, vice president of agricultural operations for Salinas-based Church Brothers Farms, said Aug. 27. “However, the effects on product have improved substantially over the last weekend.”

Mark Shaw, vice president of operations for Salinas-based Markon Cooperative, noted that air quality began getting better Aug. 21 and further cleaned up in the following days.

“Air quality was 100% improved, where you have blue sky versus brown sky, so it was definitely a difference,” Shaw said Aug. 26. “You walk out, you don’t smell smoke; you walk out, and it’s not raining white ash on top of you.”

Monterey, Calif.-based Pro*Act described in an update on its website Aug. 26 the developments that contributed to the improvement of the situation.

“The recent heavy coastal marine layer has been a welcome relief to fire suppression efforts near the Salinas Valley, bringing containment close to 50% for both fires with much less ash currently being deposited in the Salinas Valley,” Pro*Act wrote. “Growers are doing their best to keep the ash out of cartons on whole commodity supplies, with harvest crews trimming down and shaking ash off product as best they can before putting it into the carton.”

Shaw also noted that ash remains an issue for open-head items in particular. Affected items will need to be washed thoroughly with clean, cold water to remove the ash.

“Our guess is going to be we’re going to deal with an ash problem for the next four weeks,” Shaw said.

Other than dealing with ash that was already in the fields, however, the situation in Salinas was mostly back to normal, Shaw said. Ruiz expressed a similar

“It looks much, much better than where we were last week,” Shaw said. “It was just horrible last week.”



By The Packer

OVERVIEW GLOBAL POTATO MARKET

In Europe, the heat has caused a decrease in the consumption of potatoes, but also in the regrowth of new potatoes in the field. At the moment, this is resulting in difficult market conditions. Besides, the coronavirus has had a major impact on the market, especially on the processing industry, which is not yet running at full speed. However, this doesn’t apply to all markets. Switzerland has seen record sales, prices have increased in South Africa, and the potato acreage and prices are also on the rise in China.

Netherlands: Difficult sale of early potatoes
The early potato season is currently marked by difficulties, reports the director of a Dutch potato auction. “In the beginning, sales went rather well and the first weeks of the summer holiday were still reasonably good, but with the heat the situation became much tougher. The volumes are also smaller than in other years. There is a lot of uncertainty in the market. The factories are slowing down, the futures market completely collapsed at one point and everything went into free fall. This made it difficult to do business. Traders have been stepping away and with September in sight, the early and mid-early varieties will be cleared out before the storage potato season approaches.”

“The prices were already not that high, but what the factories are currently paying is completely disastrous. Hopefully, some more volumes will soon be sold, including some for export,” said the auction director. He also expects yields to be disappointing. At first, it was said that the harvest would be average, but the warm weather has had a significant impact on the regrowth, with trial harvests scoring increasingly below the five-year average.

Germany: Domestic potatoes dominate
German potatoes dominate the domestic market. The supply is huge at the moment and is more than enough to meet the demand. Due to the holiday period, sales are still relatively difficult; however, traders see no reason for price adjustments, so potato prices have remained generally stable. The domestic supply is complemented with batches from the Netherlands, France, Israel and Italy, but the market share of imported potatoes is currently declining rapidly.

United Kingdom: Potato imports and exports have fallen sharply
Both the import and export of potatoes have been reduced compared to last year. Imports of fresh and processed potatoes in the 2019/20 season amounted to 1.03 million tons, which is 10% below the 3-year average and 33% less than last year. Imports of potatoes for processing have also fallen more sharply since March, when the country was in lockdown and the demand was very low. Exports are much lower than the 3-year average. The free market price remains under pressure due to the increased supply and lower demand. Most potatoes are traded on contract; not much is happening on the free market.

There has been a lot of rain, which was welcome, but has also made the harvest challenging. Some growers stopped harvesting until it was dry again. High temperatures in combination with heavy rainfall have led to internal quality problems. The situation in the processing market was stable last week, with better demand following the government’s “Eat to Help” scheme. The return of children to school in the coming weeks will also contribute to boosting the demand for potatoes for processing.

France: Difficult months ahead for the French potato market
“The situation in the potato market is currently tough. The early harvesting in Beauce and the limited consumption of French families have led to the supply being greater than the demand,” says a grower. “The factories, covered by their contracts, are absent on the free market. It is still an effect of the coronavirus. The situation on the fresh market looks more positive so far, but the period between September and December will be difficult. The volumes that are not used by the industry will certainly increase the supply on the fresh market. The uncertainties about storage, after the use of sprout inhibitor CIPC has stopped, will make growers want to sell their products quickly. This will ensure a large supply at the end of the year.”

Austria: Market stabilizes
The Austrian potato sector has entered somewhat calmer waters at the beginning of the storage period. The season for the early varieties is almost over, so the pressure on the market seems to be easing as well. Prices amount to around 10-12 Euro / 100 kg for the normal calibers. The large sizes, however, “only” generate between 5-8 Euro / 100 kg. Due to the low prices at origin in this latter market segment, many are looking into the potential of exporting to Eastern Europe. “We hope to find buyers in Romania and Bulgaria in particular,” said a grower.

Switzerland: Potato sales break all records
Potato consumption in the first half of 2020 was the highest in the past 12 years. In total, the Swiss consumed 52.4 million kilos through the retail. However, prices were comparable to the average for the past three years. In total, sales have increased by 5.8 percent in the past six months as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. In recent years, there had always been a decline or stagnant sales. Lastly, the Bundesamt für Landwirtschaft (BLW) points to the increasing popularity of processed potato products, including French fries and rösti.

Spain: Prices at an acceptable level; large sizes suffer the most
The Spanish potato market has been revived in the summer with the season in Castile-Leon, the country’s main producing region, where the harvest is now in full swing. Despite the difficult situation, marked by the decline of sales in the hospitality sector due to the spread of the coronavirus, the prices of washed potatoes remain at an acceptable level and are exceeding industry expectations. Consequently, other regions that will start up soon have good prospects.

Castile-Leon has had a difficult spring with a lot of rain, so growers carried out the planting very gradually. As a result, the product is arriving in a staggered manner, which also ensures a better organization of the supply and will make it easier for prices to be kept at the right level, contrary to what the sector had expected. In the summer, the sales volume hasn’t been sufficient because of the lack of tourists this year. However, the loss of turnover in the catering industry is partly offset by increased consumption by households.

Despite the optimism generated by the prices of quality washed potatoes intended for supermarkets, which have been profitable for the grower, the large potatoes intended for the catering industry have been struggling with falling prices due to the declining activity in this sector. Since it is difficult to sell those large sizes, growers try to get fewer of these calibres, so they can be sent to the market. Moreover, France is already starting to ship potatoes to Spain. Normally they sell more when there is no production on the Spanish fields and that won’t happen until November.

Italy: Summer temperatures are not helping with potato consumption
In general terms, the 2020 new potato campaign has been good, even though it hasn’t been possible to reach the peaks of the previous year. Fortunately, the limited stocks of potatoes from the old crop were sold quite quickly during the lockdown period, slightly faster than the all-time average. Currently, due to the summer heat, there has been a drop in consumption compared to previous months, as reported by Unapa, the Italian national union of potato producers.

If summer temperatures don’t motivate potato consumption, it will be necessary to wait until the autumn months (September / October) for a recovery. There is currently production available from Central-Northern Italy. The volumes are good, as is the quality, and prices are stable. Only in the area of ​​Bologna are there some problems related to Agriotes litigiosus. Lazio, Abruzzo and Veneto have obtained good productions. Moreover, Sicily has almost started sowing. Compared to other countries where the potato harvest is more concentrated in a given period, Italy has a harvest schedule that runs from late March to November. The acreage remains virtually constant year after year.

Italy is not self-sufficient in terms of production, so it imports about 10-11,000 tons of potatoes annually, mainly from France. In recent months, the dry weather that has affected the countries of Central and Northern Europe, such as France, has prevented good tuber production. Despite the limited expansion of the potato acreage (about 1%), the forecast of medium yields may lead to a reduction in the volume of potatoes intended for export, which should be beneficial for the sale of Italian products from the autumn months.

China: Growing potato acreage
The potato market has been very active in 2019, so growers in the North region are enthusiastic about this year’s production. This season, the potato acreage in Gansu has expanded by 7%, and that in Inner Mongolia has grown by 10%. Although the acreage has increased, several important potato growing regions in the north haven’t had favorable conditions. Some production areas reported cold weather in April and hail in May, resulting in a severe drop in the total potato production.

As for prices, recently, the wholesale price for potatoes has stood at around 2.4 yuan / kg (0.29 € / kg), 7.2% higher than last year. In addition to the decline in the production due to price increases, heavy rainfall has regularly been recorded in the south since the beginning of the summer. As a result, vegetable prices have remained at a high level and this has stimulated the demand for potatoes and given prices a boost.

Many important production areas are approaching the harvesting season; the southwestern production areas will also start harvesting soon. The market supply will continue to increase. Due to the heavy rainfall this year, the risk of spoilage in storage is higher. Potato growers are therefore expected to reduce their stocks and accelerate sales. The volume of goods entering the market is expected to increase sharply in the later period.

United States: Fairly good transition to the new season
The potato processing industry has good stocks at the moment. The transition from the old crop to the new crop went reasonably well in Minnesota. The potatoes are also on time this year and the volumes are normal, which was not the case in the two previous years. At the moment, there is a particularly high demand for potatoes for processing into products for the retail trade, but the extra demand has already leveled off. To a large extent, the coronavirus continues to determine the situation of the US potato market. According to growers, planning the production and packaging this year will be a challenge.

South Africa: Good prices welcome by growers
The South African potato sector is currently enjoying very good prices, higher than 60 ZAR (3 Euro) per 10 kg per bag, due to the low volumes available on the market. The Western Free State season is coming to an end, while the main one in Limpopo is just starting. Due to the increasing decline of the South African Rand, tractors, agricultural implements, fertilizers and diesel are becoming more expensive. After all, many of these resources are imported. The current sales price is therefore very welcome. Given the fragile state of the economy, caution is advised against possible consumer rejection to the price, but for the time being, the demand for potatoes seems strong. It is what could be called a classic case of a low supply pushing prices up.

Australia: Storms cause shortages until early spring
Western Australian potato growers have been hit by a number of severe storms in late fall / early winter, which has led to shortages in the supply that will persist until early spring. Later harvests are looking good and the supply will grow again in the coming weeks, said the main trade association in the country. The processing industry is also recovering from the “dramatic impact” of the coronavirus, as sales crashed when lockdown restrictions were implemented. The sector is concerned about the possibility of a significant oversupply in the Australian market and the potato industry is lobbying the federal government to ensure that frozen foods are not dumped.

In total, 1,380,385 tons of potatoes worth AUD 752.6 million were produced across Australia in the year ending June 2019, according to the latest Hort Innovation statistics. These figures have remained relatively stable compared to the previous year; however, exports have increased by 26% to 45,912 tons, and the value of those shipments has increased by 10 percent, to AUD 30.7 million. The main market is South Korea, which accounts for 38% of all exports.

By FreshPlaza