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March 2014: Most unusual grape season ever!

March 2013 seemed to be dominated with news about the Southern Hemisphere grape production. Namibia had good volumes and a very good demand due to the delayed South African season which was also 3.3 million cartons short due rain. Geoff Green, Capespan International said he had never seen such an “unusual" season. The Indian grape growers were able to take full advantage of the shortfall in Chilean white seedless grapes, Argentina also saw an early close to the season due to extremely heavy rainfall.

It was also a month of firsts:
Ambassador Anne Patterson announced that the US department of agriculture had approved access for Egyptian strawberry exports.

Bananas from the Philippines could be shipped to the US as long as they met the standards of the protocol that was negotiated between the two countries.

The previous attempts to export bananas to the US in December 2012 and January this year were spoiled by the destruction caused by typhoon Pablo on banana plantations in Mindanao.

Trade barriers between the EU and Peru were lifted as of 1 March 2013, when the EU's ambitious and comprehensive trade agreement concluded with Peru and Colombia in 2012 will be provisionally applied to Peru. The Agreement would open up markets for both EU and Peruvian exporters eventually bringing annual savings of more than €500m.

Mexico and US signed a tomato pricing agreement to end a dispute over trade in fresh tomatoes. The agreement was set to strengthen anti-dumping enforcement and reset minimum wholesale prices, after Florida tomato growers complained that Mexican producers were selling fresh tomatoes for less than the production cost.

A new hybrid harvest brought excitement to the New Zealand fruit industry. The pear which is marketed under the ‘Papple’ trademark, is a hybrid of Asian and European pears with the unique combination of the texture of Asian pears but having the taste of European pears. The varietal name is PremP109.

Roads in Europe were extremely hazardous after heavy snowfall, around Paris traffic was brought to a standstill, with many lorries facing a driving ban due to the conditions, the chaos spilled over onto UK roads as the lorries were 'stacked'.

Fresh Del Monte Produce won a reduction in a European Union cartel fine to 8.82 million Euro ($11.4 million) while Dole Food Co. lost an EU court challenge against its 45.6 million Euro fine for rigging banana prices. Meanwhile Zespri was in the news after a Shanghai Court found Zespri’s China-based subsidiary, and one of its employees, guilty of being an accessory to the under-declaration of customs duties by Zespri’s former-independent importers between 2008 and 2010.

California reported that it shipped a record 101.5 million boxes (100.1 million 19-pound box equivalents) of California grapes during the 2012 season which started with shipments in early May and continued through January 2013.

Meanwhile Florida's growers were experiencing the worst fruit drop in over 40 years, according to Doug Ackerman, Florida Department of Citrus Director. Greening was only partly responsible for the problem, which was being furthered by warm Winter.

Sakata Seed Corporation celebrated 100 years this month, it was founded in June of 1913 and is headquartered in Yokohama, Japan. It is now recognized as a global leader in the development of innovative vegetables and flowers genetics.

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