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Year Overview 2018: November & December

Like 2018 itself, these overviews have gone by in the blink of an eye. It’s time to take a closer look at the final two months of the year, before everyone decides to pack their bags to go enjoy the Holidays with friends and family. Naturally avocados will make an appearance, along with the apples. Oh, and how could we forget the ‘Yellow Vests’!?

The month November started out with some worrying news; labor strikes in Mexico would hurt the avocado industry. The cause for the strikes were the low prices, and it would cost the industry a million pesos every day. Luckily a resolution was found relatively quickly, with growers resuming the harvest about a week later. The people from the Dominican Republic don’t limit themselves to just the Hass avocados, they eat over twenty different varieties, but keep them mostly to themselves rather than exporting the fruits. The same goes for Brazil, most of their production of avocados is destined for the domestic market. Avocados Australia expected their supply on the domestic market would remain steady for the rest of 2018, with the New Zealand crops being a good reserve if they do get in trouble. The strikes in Mexico led the United States to look for their avocados elsewhere, like Chile. Remember that avocado quality meter that was presented as new technology? It was released early in December.

In Spain an importer of avocados claimed he would only work with the biggest avocado producers. A year round supply of the avocados is a reality for an Israeli company. With a lot of countries stepping in the avocado industry, it means the market share for Californian avocados is declining. It’s doing its best to stay relevant, though. Australian growers are worried that if the production keeps rising, the prices will be smashed. They know what that feels like in Spain, after the price took a nosedive thanks to an oversupply from South Africa and Peru. The avocado market was in an uproar thanks to multiple strikes, but it was expected the supply to the US would normalize by mid-December. Strikes in France would also cause havoc for the Spanish avocado, however growers state they still believe in the avocados in Europe. After some claims that the Mexican drug cartels make money off of the avocado sector, the World Avocado Organization went out of their way to set the record straight.

The apple fad wasn’t quite done yet, with premium apple varieties driving the sales. In the US, a strong demand for EverCrisp apples was expected, which was a good thing as the supply doubled for the 2018-2019 season. A USDA report showed that the total apple crop in Turkey was expected to increase to three million tons, while the apple market in France was very calm nearing the end of 2018. In Poland the apple situation improved slightly, with an organic apple grower stating that Poland should be a leader in the organic sector, as it is for the conventional apples. Exports were picking up in November though, with a grower claiming the volume of their export had tripled. Polish growers and exporters feel things need to change in the sector though, with the prices crashing due to the record harvest. A study on changes taking place in the apple growth sector was released. Keeping the Polish apples in cold chambers until the prices go up might no longer be a viable option though, as the price for electricity is expected to shoot up between 40 and 70 per cent for the business sector. Consumers won’t see their price increase as much, but for the industrial sector this will be a big hit.

The future is here, as NASA is developing technology to grow crops faster. This would be beneficial when growing crops on Mars, for instance, making it easier to feed a larger number of colonists. Meanwhile, China is working on a plan to grow potatoes on the far side of the moon. A rover will plant potato and mustard seeds within a protective canister, after which it will study any growth that occurs.

The onions had quite a moving year, with bigger sizes proving to be a problem for European countries. In Treasure Valley the onion harvest concluded, claiming there were no issues with sizes or quality at all. With the weather leading to smaller sizes, an opportunity for Spanish onions would come up. Turkey had big issues with their onions, as 40 per cent of the onions harvested in a single week contained a disease. This cause the prices in Turkey to skyrocket. It was being called a global onion crisis, with sizes and prices being abnormal. The same would go for Italian onions, which reached record prices. It’s expected the onion market will calm down a bit when onions from Egypt or the Southern hemisphere will become available. The strong demand for onions in Europe might be the push China needs to start exporting their onions.

One might have heard about certain protests in France. The ‘Yellow Vest’ movement would affect fresh produce, as stores would not be able to restock and prices would fall. It turned out to be a problem for multiple importers, although some produce would continue to get on the planes. One thing was certain, the Yellow Vest movement would have a significant impact on the entire French economy as well. Produce that is grown in France could not be harvested due to a lack of timely transporting options, meaning there was both a drop in supply and quality.

The supplies of bananas seemed good this season, although ALDI’s plan to lower the prices did raise some eyebrows. The president of Banagreen Ecuador responded by saying that the suggested price wouldn’t be profitable for the agricultural sector, as costs will increase year after year. Spain can now call itself a country that imports more bananas than it grows itself, as the market share of imported bananas increased. Plantain bananas are becoming more available in mainstream US supermarkets and researchers are harvesting the first Dutch bananas. With bananas now being grown in greenhouses, the future is sure to be bananas.

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