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Difficult month for citrus

Year overview July

July got off to a wet start in The Netherlands delaying the blueberry harvest.
Europe had a low supply, even from Portugal. There it was too hot to harvest. "We started picking in the Netherlands last week, but had to do so between showers" said a Dutch grower.The frost in April also affected the yields of the Duke, an early season variety. "I estimate that there was a 20 to 30% reduction in the harvesting of that variety in the south of the Netherlands. In addition, some of the berries are smaller than usual. The rest of our varieties, like Draper, Liberty and Aurora fortunately received little damage."

On a lighter note: a man ordered a vegetarian meal on plane and received raw vegetables. The stewardess came by asking what he wanted to eat, he chose the vegetarian option, the "Vegetarian Oriental" which was advertised as being "Prepared in Chinese Style." When he received his meal however, he was surprised to find a small container of raw vegetables, including organic Chinese celery, which was part of the "Chinese Style."


Midknight Valencias in South Africa's Eastern Cape suffered wind damage in July. Some news sources were reporting it as a strange phenomenon. It was in fact a very rare weather event.

The exceptionally strong winds that swept through the Cape in June had left their mark on the citrus orchards of the Eastern Cape, particularly on Midknight Valencias, of which volumes were estimated to be between 500,000 and a million cartons down.

“We had storm-strength winds from the west for 48 hours continuously and this basically burned the trees on their western side to such an extent that leaves fell off, followed by the fruit,” says Deon Joubert, chair of the CGA Valencia variety focus group. “Such strong winds are a rare occurrence, something we see maybe once in twenty years.”

It was not only South African citrus which was having trouble, one trader said it was the most difficult citrus season in recent years.

The orange market is much tighter this year says Jason Ram, Senior Trading Manager at Capespan. "It is unusual for all supply countries to have had production issues. The early fruit drop on Navels in South Africa was catastrophic for our growers with some losing as much as 70% of the crop. Argentina has also reported significant downturns in yield coupled with additional pull-out due to cosmetic defects."

The lemon season was not much better for South African exporters with one trader calling the Russian market “a mess”.

The European Union proved equally challenging, with Spanish Verna lemons remaining on the market for longer, further aided by their short transport time to market put pressure on prices.

The extreme heat wave and the lack of rainfall raised the concerns for the fruit and vegetable sector in southern Spain, where temperatures reached 46 degrees Celsius. The climate is changing and the summers are hotter. This year was a record.

"If it doesn't rain soon, this drought could represent a serious problem for our sector ahead of the next campaign," explained one trader. The temperatures recorded were extremely high, so water consumption went up and reserves were very low. There have already been several years with very low rainfall, and although growers had been 'surviving' until now, this year could be decisive for future campaigns.

As ever the supply of avocados was in the news. Even though it only accounts for nearly 2% of all Peruvian avocado exports, China could be a very important factor in boosting the value of this fruit to the benefit of producing countries such as Peru.

Although the main destinations of the fruit is the Netherlands, as the port of Rotterdam is a gateway to several European countries, Spain, the United States,and the United Kingdom, the Asian country's demand was helping to boost the exponential increase of international prices.

Chile had also faced some difficulties to obtain Peruvian avocado because of this factor. According to one trader, "They have sought us out and done the impossible to get avocado and it has been difficult to compete against the main markets like the USA, Europe, and China, which do not have significant volumes but which helps increase prices. China is having a significant impact on avocado demand."

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