OVERVIEW GLOBAL APPLE MARKETSeptember 18, 2020
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.