Hurricanes, production drops and Asia Fruit Logistica

Year overview September 2017

September proved to be a month full of disasters as countries across North and Latin America were battered by an onslaught of hurricanes. The unrelenting natural disasters caused significant damage to crops in the east coast of the United States, Mexico, Peru and many other countries caught in the trajectory of the Hurricanes. 

While not affected by freakish weather, India and Italy saw production drop in their onion and kiwi crops, respectively. Some good news amidst all the misfortune however, was North-western Europe seeing an increase in potato production and Australia pulling off a significant deal which could boost their production in India and see their blueberries make a splash in the Indian market. 

Despite all of the chaos, Asia Fruit Logistica carried on in September, bringing industry experts together from all over the world, including us at Fresh Plaza, for our annual photo report.

Hurricanes batter North and Latin America
Hurricane Irma left its mark after passing through North and Latin America in September. The hurricane left banana plantations in Puerto Rico in tatters. Torrential rains in Guatemala and Mexico also affected production there, leading US suppliers struggling to keep up supply. As for the United States, the hurricane hit Florida the hardest. Early estimations pointed at a loss of 25-40% of the grapefruit crop, with citrus as a whole taking an estimated 21% hit. The Gulf got it even worse, where a 50-70% loss to the grapefruit crop was predicted. 

Grapefruit grove. Photo credit FDOC

The region saw another hurricane shortly after, hurricane Katia. Mexico took the brunt of the assault of Katia, as it damaged an estimated 200,000 hectares of crops in Mexico with bananas being the biggest victim. Other affected crops included pineapple, papaya, and pod crops , among others. 

 Hurricane Maria trajectory

As if two weren't enough, Hurricane Maria followed shortly after, nearly wiping out certain crops across the Caribbean. The Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe and Martinique, and Puerto Rico were among the hardest hit, with crops like bananas, papaya, mango and coffee all seeing damage. The Department of Agriculture in Puerto Rico estimated that Maria had wiped out an astounding 80% of the value of total crops

Italian kiwi & Indian onion production down, NEPG potato production up
While other parts of the world were spared from natural disasters, some still saw drops in production of key crops. According to IKO and CSO data, Italian 2017 kiwi production was estimated to be down 33% due to frost in spring, diseases and the brown marmorated stink bug.

Over in India, the onion market was in crisis due to bad weather and other factors, such as outdated techniques which created an onion shortage and a smaller harvest overall. Exports were expected to be directly effected, with a 30% drop forecast

North-western-European Potato Growers (NEPG) had better fortune. NEPG estimated the total potato production at 27.9 million tons for the five NEPG countries (Belgium, Germany, France, The Netherlands and Great Britain). The total potato production was up 11.5 % compared to the 5-year average and 13.5% higher than the total yield last year.

Joint venture expands AU blueberry production in India
Australian blueberry producer Mountain Blue had some good news to share in September with the announcement of a new joint venture to expand Australian blueberry production in India.

Indian importers IG International Pvt. Ltd. (IG) signed a joint venture agreement with Mountain Blue (MB) to grow high quality blueberries in India, under the name BerryLife. 

Asia Fruit Logistica
A bit of respite from the chaos over the remainder of the month, Fresh plaza visited Asia Fruit Logistica and created our annual photo report of the conference. Asia's importance to the global industry is growing, and the Hong Kong Asia Fruit Logistica Exhibition grew alongside it, this year by 25%. 

The development of the Chinese market was one of the drivers of this growth, along with increasing exports from South America, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa to eager markets in Asia and South-east Asia. You can see our full Photo report of Asia Fruit Logistica here.

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