WIFO's economic barometer shows there is now a very different business climate among the various agricultural sectors. While the payout prices for alpine dairies and wineries were positive, the fruit cooperatives recorded a negative year in 2019.
Competition expected to improve
The situation in the fruit sector is quite complex. The last marketing season was difficult due to oversupply and low prices. In most cases, producer prices were not satisfactory. However, market conditions should improve somewhat in the coming months, as the 2019 harvest in Europe was 20 percent below the previous year's level. The spring frost severely impacted the harvest in Eastern European countries. Poland, Europe's largest apple producer, even recorded a 44 per cent decline. Harvest volumes in South Tyrol were slightly below the prior-year level. For 2020, the fruit cooperatives expect an increase in sales and an improvement in the competitive situation, although price dynamics are currently weak. Payments to fruit growers are expected to be satisfactory.
Crisis of structural overproduction
The President of the Bolzano Chamber of Commerce, Michl Ebner, is optimistic about the new marketing season: "After a difficult year in 2019, it is reassuring that the fruit cooperatives expect an improvement next year. The cooperatives play a key role in South Tyrolean agriculture and also offer interesting employment opportunities for highly qualified professionals, for example in logistics, quality control and marketing".
Georg Kössler, Chairman of the South Tyrolean Apple Consortium: "The European apple market is experiencing a crisis of structural overproduction due to huge investments in cultivation areas in Eastern Europe. This will lead to fierce competition among standard varieties in the coming decades. New premium segments and market niches are to be filled through bold variety innovation."
Source: Südtiroler Bauernbund