Trade fairs, hurricanes and drought

Year Overview October

October is trade show month with big events in the industry, and many people in the trade jumping on planes across the ocean to catch both events. First came Fruit Attraction in Madrid an ever popular show which is still growing each year, this quickly followed by the PMA in New Orleans. FreshPlaza of course, made it both of them to get our legendary photo reports.

Photo report Fruit Attraction

Photo report PMA

The after-effects of the hurricanes were still being felt as a new one was, strangely enough, just about to hit Ireland and Scotland. Hurricane Irma devastated orange growers in Florida, with estimates suggesting half the current crop had been lost. Growers were assessing steps moving forward, as they attempted to recover on the back of an already struggling industry, battling the effects of disease and softer demand.

Quentin Roe, of Noble Citrus, said the Hurricane was the worst natural disaster orange growers had ever witnessed. "Hurricane Irma was truly devastating for Florida orange growers and we estimate that 50%-60% of the current crop was lost," he said. "It's the worst natural disaster the state's agricultural industry has witnessed in living memory. Production volumes have taken a huge hit but we won't know accurate assessments until the Department of Agriculture releases their figures later this month. At this stage, projections are for production to be 35,000,000-40,000,000 boxes this year, down from an original expectation of 72,000,000."

On the 16th of the month hurricane Ophelia left 100,000 Irish homes and businesses without power. Winds measured 109mph (176km/h). The Met Office and Met Éireann issued severe weather alerts, with a red warning for the whole of Ireland, an amber warning for Northern Ireland and yellow warnings for parts of the British west coast as ex-hurricane Ophelia hits Ireland's coast. The biggest casualty for the fresh produce was cider apples which were blown off the trees.

India was also getting hit by the weather and in October the region of Maharashtra was hit by severe downpours. As the monsoon rain season usually occurs between June and August, this amount of rain was abnormal and unexpected. The grape cultivation that is centered around the city of Nashik bore the brunt of these unusual weather circumstances. A 50% decrease expected in the grape volume.

While some countries were getting above average rain, South Africa was still suffering from the drought. As the grape season approached fears were growing for the grape production in the Western Cape.

South Africa's blueberry exports were looking much more positive though with volumes doubling in the 2017/18 season. The industry grew so vigorously over the past few years that it has took industry experts by surprise. Blueberry exports are expected to just about double this year to reach an expected 8,000t, and the surface area under blueberries is set to do the same over the next five years.

European apple prices were above 5-year average. The average price in Europe for apples was EUR 0,73/kg in September 2017. This was 30% higher than the five-year average. The reason for these high prices was the small volumes. This year's small volumes were caused by the frost that hit many European countries. These figures came from a report of the European Commission. The largest European production countries were Poland, Italy, France and Germany.

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