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Year Overview 2018: September & October

With only four months left in the year, September and October did their best to rock our worlds. The WAPA prediction of an apple overload turned out to be correct, leading to the apple market taking charge of the news. There were also some currency issues, another recall that would cost millions and an unusual find of a needle in Australian strawberries, causing havoc in the Australian strawberry industry.

When starting with the grape industry, one wants to be innovative, to be smart. A Pakistani street vendor tried outsmarting his competition by spray painting his white grapes red. It resulted in costumers getting sick after eating the grapes, maybe not such a smart idea after all. The seedless grapes from Peru were expected to have a positive season, while the growers in Turkey were disappointed with the quality of their produce. The cause of the lesser quality was heavy and irregular rain that plagued the region in Turkey. Specialty grape grower Divine Flavor increased the availability of its specialty grape varieties such as Cotton Candy, Gummyberries, Sweet Sapphire and others. In India the grape harvest was expected to be as good as they could hope for. The exports of Egyptian grapes reached $219 million in just ten months. This was about a ten per cent increase compared to last season. To close it off, the prices of grapes in Italy didn’t quite reach the height that they did last year, an Italian grower stated the prices were about 30 per cent lower than they were the year before.

In Turkey the lira seemed to hop on a swing, with the value of the currency taking a nosedive. The lira would recover slightly, but the currency would keep Turkish growers and exporters on their toes for a while to come.

Kiwi’s had an exciting time, with North Americans complaining about too much kiwifruit from Chile, just as the Californian and European kiwi season were about to begin. Chile had already sent the last batch of the season a week earlier. On the other side of the globe the Australians got a pretty good scare as psa was confirmed on the Seeka orchards in Australia. 4.5 hectares of its total 154 hectares of kiwifruit orchards were affected. Greece wanted to step up its game this season, by doubling their kiwi capacity. Another grower claimed their kiwifruits were much bigger in size this year, although the prices were slightly lower. It would later turn out that the kiwi season had started, but growers were not harvesting the kiwifruit just yet. This was due to the kiwifruit not having the desired sugar-levels just yet. Italy was also hoping to put a dent in the kiwifruit demand, as they were expecting 2500 tons of Dori’ kiwis this season.

In Australia a needle was found in a strawberry, which turned the entire industry upside down. People got scared and decided not to buy any strawberries. Growers would dump entire yields. Later in the year, the culprit would be found.

Apples seemed to dominate the news for a couple of weeks, no doubt thanks to the record harvest in Europe that WAPA had already predicted. The major issues seemed to be coming from Poland though, as one grower claimed nobody had a back-up plan for the huge quantity of Polish Apples. Another grower warned the industry that Poland should consider reducing its production of apples, to counter these huge harvests. When producing a large amount of apples, one needs to have the workforce to actually pick the from the trees. This also seemed to be an issue, as the workers knew their strong bargaining position and started demanding high salaries. Not everyone was worried though, as one exporter predicted the exports would increase over the following weeks, doubling or maybe even tripling the amount of exported apples. The hopes were China would come through and start taking in the apples, as a grower stated the Asian clients preferred the smaller sweet apples they were cultivating over other apples from around the world. A solution for next season is needed though, and some exporters are putting their eggs in the organic basket for added value and demand.

The apple situation didn’t just make waves in Poland though, with WAPA slightly decreasing the forecast for European apples and pears. Australia decided to start an import risk analysis for apples from the Pacific Northwest States of the United States. A grower from the US increased the production of the Autumn Glory apple, with year round availability in sight. In China, apple prices would continue to rise in October, mostly due to quality issues from the Fuji apples and a boost in popularity for the apples from the Jingning County. In Washington the harvest of latter apple varieties would commence, with faith the tariff war with China would not get in the way of exporting these apples. In Pennsylvania the apple season progressed well, despite a slow start. Turkey was worried the Polish apples price could ruin it for the export of Turkish apples. A Turkish grower hoped that South Africa and Germany would have potential as new markets for their apples.

Greenyard had to do a recall on a lot of produce from Hungary, it would later be discovered a freezing tunnel was the source of the Listeria contamination. Tesco, Lidl and Asda would also issue food recalls after Listeria and Salmonella was found in a number of products.

The blueberry season in North America came to a close and the results were positive. The exports out of North America increased in volume and destinations. In Argentina the export of blueberries would start a week or two later than planned, with Chile also being slightly later than usual. The cold weather was the culprit. Argentina needed to be careful not to export all their produce though as it turned out the local consumption of blueberries had increased by a whopping 250 per cent. A little later the season would be in full swing though, with large amounts of blueberries being shipped to the US via air freight. Chile would enter a cooperation with China to launch KingBlueBerry and KingCherry. For more detailed information on blueberries around the globe, here’s an overview of the global blueberry market!

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