The pear harvest is currently underway in the main producing areas of Spain. The Limonera and Ercolini varieties have already been harvested in Lleida, and the harvest of the Blanquilla, Conferencia, Williams and Bartlett, among others, is almost finished. Meanwhile, the first Alejandrinas are now starting to be harvested.
Europe expects to harvest 14% less pear compared to last year, according to Prgnosfruit. Italy is expected to harvest up to 30% less than last year, while France expects 14% less pears, Belgium 10% less and the Netherlands 6% less. For its part, Spain foresees a 4% increase in the production compared to last year.
"It may seem that Spain has a lot more pears than the other countries, but that could be misleading. It is true that the harvest has been good in the province of Lleida, but other areas, such as Aragon, La Rioja and El Bierzo, have suffered frost problems that have taken a toll on the quality of the fruit, so there will not be so much fruit suitable for marketing," explains Xavier Juvillà, manager of the Lleida-based firm Viyefruit, a producer and marketer of pears, apples and stone fruit, among other products.
According to the producer and exporter, there has been and continues to be a high demand for Barlett and Williams pears. "Many of the quality batches have already been sold at very good prices, mainly to Italy, which is also buying pears for the processing industry at prices that we had not seen for a long time."
Moreover, Abate Fetel prices are astronomical, as Italy has recorded a sharp decline in the production this year. "The Italians have been eagerly demanding Abate Fetel pears from Spain," says Xavier.
For the Conference pears, operations are being closed at origin with minimum prices of between 0.50 and 0.60 Euro. "This time, we hope not to see a repeat of what happened last year, when prices started very high, but then the market stagnated, resulting in prices collapsing and the accumulation of excess stocks. The Netherlands and Belgium have enough Conference pears, so if prices start very high, both the Dutch and the Belgians could end up selling in Spain and exerting great pressure on the Spanish production, as we already saw 3 years ago. In these countries, they have had a summer with warm temperatures, so the fruit's quality and sugar levels will make it very competitive."