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French apples victims of Russian embargo

Effects of the Russian embargo decreed in August are being felt on the apple market. Producers in France’s number one apple production region, the Tarn-et-Garonne, are starting to worry.

Claude Rehlinger, President of France’s biggest apple exporter, Blue Whale says that “the 500,000 tons of Polish apples normally taken in on the Russian market will saturate the European market, which could drop the prices”. The saturation of the market is a secondary effect of the Russian embargo, Russia represented 10% of Blue Whale’s exports. 

To make it even more difficult this year, Polish productions have increased (+12% expected between 2013-2014) as have those in Italy (+13%), Europe’s leading apple producers. Germany is Europe’s fourth apple producer and they have seen a 29% increase in production, as have fifth place Hungary with a 33% increase. However, France, Europe’s third producer, expects to see a 6% decrease this year (source: Prognosfruit 2014 from WAPA). Christophe Belloc, President of farming cooperative Stanor, says they can try to be optimistic, “Even if according to our forecasts, our production should decrease this year from 67,000 tons to 58,000 tons, we have products of a very high quality with excellent colour and sugar levels”.

Last month commercialisation was slow with French demand preferring summer fruits as the weather was still good. At the Toulouse wholesale market last month a decrease in commercialised tonnage was noted (-10% compared to 2013). South-West Gala’s were negotiated at €1.10/kg last month compared to €1.48/kg at the same time last year. Producers can only hope that consumption increases and prices do not collapse. 2014 will be a complicated year.

Turning to the processing industry (juices, jams, purées) will not be a good solution to turn over stock. As a large amount of 2013 production was not sold, excess tonnage has made the prices drop already. With prices so low, many Polish and Italian apples will go to the industry for very low prices (a few cents per ton).

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