Following last week’s Prognosfruit Conference, EAP’s Chairman Adrian Barlow reports that there was cautious optimism for the coming season after two gruelling years for European topfruit growers. The European apple crop is forecast to be 3% lower than last year but 1% above the average for 2013-2015. Crops in Austria and the Balkans have been decimated by frost and hail and are much lower than normal. Poland has a record crop, much of which will be only suitable for processing due to weather damage, and the volume for the fresh market is forecast to be similar to 2015. The European pear crop is forecast to be 9% lower than last year and 9% below the average for 2013-2015. The crop in Italy is forecast to be 11% below last year and there are reductions in most north European countries.
Considerable concern was expressed by representatives of the industry in all European countries about the inadequate returns to growers. The Russian import ban continues, and imports of fresh produce from Turkey have also been banned by Russia. However, crops are lower than last year and stocks of unsold European and southern hemisphere product are minimal, so the new season will start with a ‘clean’ market. Furthermore, prices have risen during the summer and there is cautious optimism that higher prices at the beginning of this season will be maintained throughout 2016/17.