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Horrible harvest year, prices quadrupled

"Apples in Germany are a "complete disaster"

The saying "April is the cruellest month" has certainly resonated with many German producers and traders of top fruit. Because of the frost in April that lasted for days, German farmers are in a difficult position at the moment. Some of them have lost more than 90 percent of their income. Not even price increases or good quality can improve their spirits.

Harvest losses in apples have not been this bad for a long time. Some already spreak of the worst harvest year in 40 years. There is a reason that stored stocks are being used at the moment. "It's a complete disaster," according to an employee of the wholesale business Blaser Obst in the middle of Lake Constance. "We are facing a loss of 93 percent compared to the incomes in spring. That is why prices have quadrupled compared to April."

There was never such a bad apple harvest in Germany

In Bavaria as well, the storage is anything but perfect, as Mr Rauch of the local fruit market of Franconian Switzerland stresses. "Together we have a harvest of only 15 percent. The prices have increased incredibly because of that. At the moment, cider apples cost 0.25 euros/kg (0.30 USD/kg) and, depending on the variety, normal apples cost 0.90 to 1.50 euros/kg (1.1 to 1.8 USD/kg)." Therefore, the director can only confirm that 2017 has also been a bad harvest year for producers in his region.

Great quality
Looking at the criticism, it seems as though Germany is faced with only adversities. "These are exaggerated statements that are true in some regions of Germany, but that have to be put into context," says Bernd Falkenau of the Distribution Society for Fruit. "Not all of the harvests are in storage yet and I am not allowed to give a definitive evaluation. It is certain that the damage in southern Germany was much more severe than in the North. Together, the producers that are members of our society have a total loss of 40 percent compared to the amounts in spring, according to the most recent estimations."

Despite the bad harvests, producers of top fruit can bring some positive news. "Even though the German harvests were below average, the fruits were of great quality. The sugar content and the colour of the apples were overall good. In addition, the current prices are quite high and at least partially compensate the losses for our producer companies," says Falkenau about the situation.

Market behaviour
Despite bad harvests, Germany still dominates the apple business, especially with Elstar, Boskoop and Royal Gala. The prices of these varieties are at 1.20 euros/kg (1.40 USD/kg) at the moment. This is what the German Information Centre for Agriculture (BZL) wrote in their last weekly message. The Jonagolds from this year's season are significantly more expensive than those of previous lots. In Hamburg, the Topaz, Wellant and Honeybrunch varieties are also available.

More information:
VEOS Vertriebsgesellschaft für Obst mbH
Dr. Bernd Falkenau

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