The apple harvest in the northern region of the Altes Land is expected to be finalized next week. As in the vast majority of European orchards, a rather lush harvest with above-average yields is a fact. Nonetheless, sales of domestic products are currently particularly hesitant. In normal daily sales within domestic food retail, only quite manageable amounts are bought, says a spokesman for a specialized fruit wholesaler in the heart of the Altes Land.
Shelf life problems
A sumptuous harvest has already been forecast for all varieties: The yields and quality of main club varieties Kanzi and Junami are currently satisfactory. Only Elstar's total yield is just 75 percent of a normal harvest. "Due to the drought and the lack of water, this popular apple variety currently lacks a bit of size," said the northern wholesaler. ''In the south, on Lake Constance, however, the summer temperatures were higher than over here and as a result there are problems with the shelf life of the goods. That's why they are very active in sales at the moment, and they are very flexible in pricing accordingly.''
Great price pressure
Across the border there is currently very heavy competition from Poland and South Tyrol. ''Poland is much cheaper in pricing. Fortunately, currently there are hardly coming any goods to Germany. In the export markets, we are always in direct competition with Poland. Nonetheless, we also export goods to Scandinavia, primarily to Denmark. In general, we hope prices will pick up soon and that some of the pressure will exit the market.''
For pears, it is currently very difficult to place regional produce, due to price pressure from the Netherlands and Belgium. 'Regarding Conference pears, on average, they are around 0.10 eurocents below our kilo price. At any rate, current prices do not cover the costs of the growers.''
A major challenge in today's industry is to find some alternative for the use of plastic packaging. One solution, introduced this year, are the punnets with banderols from regional company A+P. "Whether this is the right solution we can not predict yet. Compared to conventional packaging, these alternatives are still relatively expensive. At any rate, we as wholesalers are looking for a suitable solution.'' Variety diversity is also currently being tested with a large number of new, modern varieties, such as red-fleshed apples. "In my opinion these red varieties are not in demand here in Germany.''