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May 2013: From bad weather, fires, legal battles...comes hope, new opportunities

The UK cherry season was dramatically reduced back in 2012, so after a cold winter and light crop last year, Jon Clark, Director of Total Cherry was feeling positive about the cherry crop for the Summer of 2013. A crop of 3,500 tonnes was expected, but only time would tell if this estimate was near its mark by late June/early July when the fruit was expected to appear.

Bad weather continued to plague European growers. There were delays and shortages for major European vegetable crops due to excessive rain in the South and cold weather and a late spring in the North. The stone fruit market in Spain was having difficulties meeting exporter demands. The Spanish melon and top fruit season was also considerably delayed.

After a long going legal feud with Zespri regarding export dominance, Turners and Growers' decided to drop their appeal to the High Court ruling in Zespri's favour and announced a commercial partnership with the Company. This new move was seen as "in the best interests of the kiwi industry".
However, the month did not get any easier for the New Zealand kiwi trade when Russia blocked a huge shipment of kiwi's at port because of export certification issues for the second time over a period of a couple months. This situation most likely occured because of the Chinese customs investigation that which saw Zespri fined for smuggling. Towards the end of the month it was also reported that there was a significant decrease in the 'Gold' volumes.

After all of that bad news, there was some light at the tunnel as kiwi sales grew in China. Of course, New Zealand wasn't the only country seeing the benefits of increasing trade with Asian countries. Ronald Brown, president of the Association of Exporters of Chilean Fruit AG, had met with Chinese representatives to discuss Chilean fruit entry. The Australian table grape association's Jeff Scott pointed out that Asian markets are very promising for the table grape industry, with 50% of Australians grapes already being sent there.

Over in the United States, it was feared that the spotted wing drosophila fly could reach record numbers in the Pacific Northwest. It was estimated that if the proper measures for detection and control were not in place, it could mean up to $31 million of annual losses to the small and stone fruit industry.

It was also a difficult start to the month in California, where the Springs Fire was damaging hundreds of acres of berries, together with, up to the point of publication, 600 avocado trees, 500 boxed trees, several irrigation systems and hoop ­houses.

Spain also had its share of bad luck when storms ruined the start of the cherry campaign in Alicante. 50% of production had been compromised during the blooming stage due to the intense rains.

However, it wasn't all doom and gloom in May of this year. There were also many firsts and new varieties introduced to the market. UK based BanaBay introduced their new brand of Ecuadorian bananas to the European market with great success. A new variety of melon called the Capoeira was introduced by HM Clause and it was announced that Euroberry would launch its new brand called RocioBerry at Fruit Attraction 2013.

In company news, it was announced that CEO Louis Kriel would be leaving Capespan after 12 years of service. A few days later Capespan also announced that they would be appointing a new chairman named Norman Celliers, who would be taking over for Dr Paul Clüver, who had announced his retirement just a few days prior. In the Netherlands, Oron Ziv said farewell his relations in Mehadrin Nederland and was looking to future opportunities in the produce industry.

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