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The analysis of the Cso presented by Elisa Macchi in Ferrara

Italy: Export grows but it could do better

During the final conference of the AGER Inoovapero project, held on 18th October 2013 in Ferrara, Elisa Macchi (in the photo), director of the CSO, presented an analysis on the productive and economic situation of pear cultivation.

Based on the 2008-2011 average, the global pear production is 22.5 million tons, 21 million tons of which are produced in the Northern hemisphere.

Southern hemisphere
The remaining share is grown in the Southern hemisphere, where production grew until 2005/06 and then diminished progressively. Today, supply is below 1.5 million tons. At a variety level, William B.C. (37%), Packam's (32%) and Forelle (6%) prevail.

Argentina increased the supply, going from 500,000 tons in 2000 to 750,000 in 2005/06. At the moment, it is stable at 700,000 tons. South Africa is increasing its supply from 300,000 tons to 350-360,000.

Northern hemisphere
China represents around 70% of the total, with a supply that grew from 8.5 million tons to 16 million tons from 2000 to 2011. If we exclude this country, production in the Northern hemisphere is stable at 6 million tons.

The main productive areas are North America with 835,000 tons (13%), US with 830,000, North Africa with 360,000 tons (3%) and Algeria (210,000 tons). Europe (EU and extra-EU) reaches 3.2 million tons, 50% of the total.

Asia produces 17.2 tons of pears. Excluding China, this is 1,970,000 tons, 30% of the total divided between Turkey (385,000 tons), South Korea (340,0000), India (290,000) and Japan (200,000).

There is a slight decrease in the US supply, and cultivars are distributed in a different way than in Europe - Anjou 47%, William BC 29%, Bosc 15%, etc.

In the European Union, pear production seems stable at 2.5 million tons. 2,236,000 tons are expected in 2013, 18% more than in 2012 but 8% less than the 2008-2011 average.

If we compare the average between 2000-2002 and 2009-2011, we can see an increase in Holland (6 to 13%), Belgium (5 to 12%) and Portugal (5 to 8%), whereas Spain (23 to 19%) and France (9 to 8%) decreased. Italy remained constant at 33-34%.

As regards varieties at a Community level, only three varieties have become more popular between 2000 and 2012 - Conference, Abate and Rocha.

Despite some fluctuations and the drops in production in the last two years, Italy appears constant at around 830,000 ton. Expectations for 2013 are 741,000 tons, 14% more than 2011 and 8% less than 2008-2011.

At a variety level, Abate increased between 2000-2002 and 2010-12 (29 to 38%) whereas William (21-22%) and Kaiser (6%) remained constant. The other cultivars decreased.

At a commercial level, Elisa Macchi explained how domestic consumption has been dropping from 460,000 ton to 350,000 (-23%) (see chart below).

Retail purchases of Italian families (Source: CSO based on GFK Italia data)


National quantities destined abroad are increasing (despite fluctuations due to availability). If in the early 2000s they remained below 140,000 ton, recently they have reached 200,000 ton with a good increase in value. Imports seem stable (100,000 ton).

The share of produce sent abroad is therefore growing. In the early 2000s, exports represented 15% of the production, whereas currently it represents 22%.

Destinations of Italian exports: EU is green, extra-EU is red, Africa is yellow and other destinations are purple. (Source: CSO based on Istat data)

Quantities shipped within the EU diminished (95 to 88%), whereas African countries went from very small volumes to 5% in the last two campaigns. The market of extra-EU European markets represents around 6%.

As regards exports within the EU, Italy ships to all countries within the Community, and mainly to Germany (little more than 60,000 tons) and France (25-26,000 tons). Exports to countries like Austria and Eastern European countries increase, especially during very productive years. Those to the UK are decreasing instead.

There are various destinations outside of the EU, but the main countries in terms of volumes are Libya and Russia. Switzerland remains constant.

The main competitors for Italian pears
All the main European exporters are on the rise. Belgium and Holland export a lot of the product they sell. 

The main competitors for Italian exports (blue): Holland is yellow, Belgium is red, Portugal is green. (Source: CSO based on Eurostat data)

Germany is the main destination market for Dutch pears, as currently 80,000 tons of pears are shipped there on average, 25% of the total. Great Britain follows with 45,000 tons (15%) and after that Russia (20%) and France (9%). After a big increase in the early 2000s, quantities shipped to the Russian market are now fluctuating.

Russia is the main destination for Belgium, with 120,000 ton on average (44%), followed by France with 25,000 ton (10%), UK (10%) and Spain with 20,000 ton (8%). Quantities to Russia and the UK have increased, whereas they have decreased for Germany and France remains constant.

In 2011/12, Portugal exported 46,000 tons of pears, 40% of the total, to Brasil, 20,000 tons to the UK (21%) and 17,000 ton (20%) to France. All destinations are on the rise.

The director of the Cso stressed how the domestic consumption of pears is decreasing despite a stable production, hence the need to export. Countries like Belgium, Holland and Portugal - which are naturally inclined towards exports - increased their productive potential in the last few years, but destination markets remain the same. It is therefore essential to access new markets.

The opening of the US market to Italian pears was very successful - 10 containers have been shipped so far. Additional produce should be sent there between the second and the third week of November, but it is important to work on other projects too: the pear dossier was sent to Japan, China and South Korea in 2007.

It is therefore essential to work together, just as was done for the US market - the Ministry, the Region, the Plant Protection Service, technicians from POs, embassies and the Cso collaborated to achieve such result.

According to Elisa Macchi, the birth of the OI Pera (interbranch organisation), which includes Emilia-Romagna and Veneto, will be a useful instrument to reach these objectives. Among its many activities, the organisation also aims at developing initiatives to enter new international markets and promote pears, especially the Abate variety, by working with the characteristics that make this pear unique.

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