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Results of the strawberry season 2017:
Germany: 20 percent lower yields cause increased prices
This year was hard on the strawberry season: Severe frosts in April, a cool May, regional damages due to hail and heavy rains, as well as a hot June, caused losses. According to estimates by the Agrarmarkt Informations-Gesellschaft (AMI) the yields will be even lower than they were last year, which was already a bad year for strawberries.
This is further confirmed by the survey AMI conducted among Germany's most important producers of strawberries, after the frost in April: They're expecting 28,500 tons of the fruit for 2017, approximately five percent less than the previous year (30,000 tons) and 28.3 percent less compared to the medium of 37,400 tons. Strawberry production consultants are calculating losses of around 20 percent for this season. According to the Bureau of Statistics, 143,221 tons of strawberries were harvested in Germany last year.
Quality was generally above last years' as there were fewer cases of rot. Prices were fairly high and stable until mid-May. They collapsed when the supply of domestic strawberries increased while retailers were still offering imported fruits for lower prices. On average, according to AMI, consumers paid 2,54 Euro per 500 grams for domestic strawberries (2016: 2,28 Euro).
The quality of the harvest was affected by deformities caused by frost, as those fruits had to be combed out, but there was enough of the aromatic fruit on the market. "The quality of the fruit was okay but overall yields were low this season. There were very few complaints about the deliveries to food retailers. The late variety Malwina, that we will offer until mid-July, developed very well," says Joachim Huber, of the Huber Hof in Iffezheim.
Even people who picked the strawberries themselves felt the effects of the low yields: "We were only able to offer our customers three instead of six weeks of picking their own strawberries. We had many telephone inquiries about that. Overall, our customers were very understanding when it came to the increased prices," explains Markus Kirn of the Wiesenobst GbR in Ingelheim.
The weak season of 2017 will have an effect on next year as well. "The increased prices for strawberries will probably not be sufficient to cover the extra cost for (among other things) frost protection and picking for some producers. Considering that last year was already not very successful, the cultivation area for strawberries will most likely continue to shrink as less economically profitable acreages will be abandoned," concludes Simon Schumacher, representatives of the association of asparagus and strawberry producers in southern Germany, Verbands Süddeutscher Spargel- und Erdbeeranbauer e. V. (VSSE).
Publication date: 7/17/2017
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