The pear season has just started or is about to start in the southern hemisphere. Argentina is getting better prices on the European market and Chile has the opportunity to expand its pear exports to China this year. South Africa is recording a slight reduction in its exports to Europe, but there is growth in Russia and the Middle East. The Australian Rico pear is bound to conquer the Asian market and Chinese pears are rejected in the Russian market.
In Europe, the reduction in the supply of Italian pears has led to better prices for the pears from other countries. Spain is enjoying a strong demand for pears in Israel and the sale of Conference pears in the Netherlands and Belgium is also going well. The prospects are not good for Italian and Portuguese growers, as even the higher prices do not cover their costs.
The Netherlands: Good pear market desperately needed
Traders say that the stock of minor varieties has been almost sold out. The sale of these varieties has gone more smoothly than last season. In addition to the club varieties, the Conference still remains. According to estimates, the stock of Conference pears in the Netherlands is approximately 10% lower than last year's. This, together with the overall situation of pear stocks in Europe, is positive. The market is currently calm, which is traditionally the case after the Berlin fair and with Carnival around the corner. If we succeed in properly balancing the supply with the demand, there will be no pressure. As a result, we could expect steadily rising prices, according to pear traders.
All in all, they are optimistic about the current pear market. The demand is good and after a small dip last week, pear prices are again on the rise. The quality of the pears in terms of outer appearance is not as good as last year's, but the shelf life and versatility are many times better this time. From January in particular, prices have risen sharply, which is resulting in a generally positive mood in the market, with the result that more and more parties are making strategic purchases. Last year's debacle convinced traders of the need to offer better prices. This year, the pears will find their way to destinations such as Scandinavia, the United Kingdom and Eastern Europe. Retailers have struggled to accept the higher prices, but according to fruit traders this is mainly due to the low prices paid last year. They are now paying almost twice as much as last season; however, these prices are profitable for a growing company, while last year's were not sustainable for the sector.
The first South African pears also arrived on the Dutch market last week. The volume of imported pears has shown a declining trend in recent years. According to importers, these market conditions are also favorable. "On the European market, we are seeing rising prices for the Conference, a limited volume of Doyenné du Comice pears and extremely low stocks of the Abate Fetel. We therefore expect a much better market than last year. Back then, there were not too many South African pears, but the prices at the start of the season were incredibly high and the market was disrupted."
Belgium: Average market prices significantly higher
After a difficult year with low prices and poor quality, this time the situation is positive for pear growers and traders. The prices are on average a lot higher and the demand is good, both from Eastern Europe and from Southern Europe. The higher prices and good demand are partly due to the good quality and the lower volumes of Italian pears on the market. The price of pears traditionally falls around Fruit Logistica, but Belgian traders are convinced that the market situation is currently very good, so the price will rise again after the fair.
Germany: Unusual price fluctuations in the market due to limited supply
Italian pears currently dominate the market, especially the Abate Fetel and Williams. In addition, there are Conference pears from the Netherlands and Belgium available, as well as small volumes of Turkish Santa Maria pears and German Alexander Lucas. European growers are able to meet the quiet market demand. When it comes to prices, there are some unusual fluctuations. For example, Italian pears became slightly more expensive for a short period due to limited availability. Imports from South Africa are growing. The Bon Chrétien are sold for average prices and are currently reaching all markets. Meanwhile, the Rosemarie are reasonably priced and therefore less popular on the already quiet German pear market.
France: Sales taking place without any issues
The pear season has been going well in France this year. Although the volumes were not very large, the quality has been remarkable, with good sugar contents, even though the sizes are slightly smaller than usual. No real difficulties have so far been reported when it comes to sales. In general, the results are satisfactory. French people increasingly prefer buying French pears. The smaller volume of Abate pears from Italy has also helped boost French pear sales.
Italy: High prices for Italian Abate pears due to market shortages
The pear stocks in Italy are currently at -57.6% compared to last year. The average production over the past 5 years in Italy is around 700,000 tons. More than 70% comes from the region of Emilia-Romagna, where the acreage in 2019 stood at 17,885 hectares.
At the moment there are two notable trends on the market. Buyers are paying well for the Abate variety due to a shortage of these pears (around 50% less) caused by the weather conditions in 2019, the impact of the brown marmorated stinkbug and problems during the flowering. However, only the premium quality and large sizes are being sold for good prices. If the pears do not meet the minimum quality standards, prices remain low, despite the shortages. The market for Conference and Kaiser pears is fairly stable due to the dominance from the Netherlands and Belgium with good sizes.
The Abate growers in Northern Italy are losing between 5,000 and 10,000 Euro per hectare in the 2019-2020 season. This is due to insufficient production, with losses of up to 70%, mainly caused by the brown marmorated stinkbug and the Brown spot disease. The prices for premium quality pears are higher than in a normal year, but they do not compensate for the losses.
A trader in southern Italy has got low volumes and a lower quality, but high prices. “In week 6, these high prices were due to shortages. It is difficult to find good quality pears. The Abate pears in 17-18 kg boxes have been sold for 1.50-1.60 € / kg, but the price of small 4 kg packages has reached 2.00-2.50 € / kg. For the Conference, the prices have stood at € 1.00-1.20 / kg and € 2.00 / kg, respectively.
Spain: Demand from Israel ensures good prices in Spain
The Spanish season is going well for most varieties. The production is similar to last year's, but the demand is much higher and the prices are better. As a result, the season is coming to an end earlier and the new season will start without any old stocks.
The prices for the Bartlet and Williams rose to record highs at the start of the season due to the reduction of the production in Italy. The demand from Israel also resulted in high prices for the Blanquilla pears. Due to this strong demand last month, current stocks are more than 40% smaller compared to last year. The Blanquilla season is ending one and a half to two months earlier than usual due to the demand from Israel and the local market.
The start of the Conference season happened later and was much quieter. After Christmas, the demand improved due to the steady sale of Dutch and Belgian pears, since such steady sales result in fewer pears ending up in Spain. The Escolini season has already come to a close with stable prices throughout the season, but also with one of the highest prices on the market.
Portugal: Low prices fail to cover the production costs
About 60% of the Portuguese Rocha pears have already been sold. The prices are low and the growers are receiving too little for their production. "Some growers have stopped harvesting," says one exporter. "In the south, growers are switching to vineyards or quitting altogether if they are already old." Another problem for the Portuguese is that Brazil, their largest destination market, is buying more expensive pears rather than the Portuguese ones at a low price. The second largest destination is Morocco and then the UK, where the Portuguese pears have to compete against other varieties. However, the main competitor is Portugal itself. "There are too many exporters selling Rocha pears."
China: Russian embargo on Chinese pears, but export to other countries is expanding
The pear harvest for the 2019-2020 season is very good this year. Last season the supply was small because the pear harvest was considerably damaged by the bad weather. However, the weather conditions have been good this season, so the volume available has increased considerably. Early January sales were good, since pears are a very popular product during the Chinese New Year. Although there were many apples and oranges on the market, this did not have a direct impact on the price of pears.
Sales decreased somewhat during the Chinese New Year, as most companies closed during this period. However, due to the new coronavirus, many companies are still closed, which means that the delivery of Chinese pears is happening slowly. However, there is a lot of demand in the Chinese market and this is pushing prices up.
This season, Chinese pears have no longer been allowed on the Russian market, which is a big issue for many companies, given that Russia imported a large share of the Chinese production. However, the demand in other Southeast Asian countries has increased, so the export volume has still been comparable to that of previous years. Furthermore, exports are also on the rise on the Latin American market, now that Brazil has also allowed the import of Chinese pears.
South Africa: Season started 10 days earlier; growing exports to Russia and the Middle East
Pear exports started in week 2 with the early Bon Chrétiens (Williams or Bartlett), followed by the Rosemarie. The season kicked off ten days earlier for some varieties. Most South African pears are intended for the European market, but in week 5 the volumes were lower compared to last year. Meanwhile, exports to Russia (the second largest destination) and the Middle East have increased. In total, the estimated volume is about 3% down and exports will be down by 3% compared to last year, according to the forecast. The Bon Chrétiens (Williams or Bartlett) in particular had a low yield this year. According to some experts, it was actually one of the lowest ever recorded.
Hail and ice in the Ceres region (Western Cape) have led to the packing for export being reduced by around 15%, as well as to more class 2 fruit being available for sale on the local market or for processing into juices. Ice and wind have also damaged the fruit's appearance. Moreover, the sizes are smaller than last year due to the early start of the season and the extremely dry weather over the last three weeks. A large harvest is expected for the Packham pears, while that of the Forelle was reduced by 78% in week 5 compared to last year.
United States: Stable growth of volume and acreage
The packing of pears is starting to slow down with the arrival of spring, but remains consistent for the Anjou and the Bosc in the Northwest. When the pear supply runs out, the fruit arrives from the southern hemisphere, with varieties such as the Williams, Packham and the Chilean Bosc being the most prominent. The volume from the Northwest has remained stable in recent years. The number of new orchards in Oregon and Washington remains limited. This is partly due to the fact that it can take up to seven years for a new tree to become productive. The growth in terms of volume is in line with the consumption. This is mainly due to the promotions carried out on the market. The demand for organic pears is the one recording the fastest growth.
Argentina: Better prices on the European market
The Argentinian season runs from January to March. The season has been going well so far, with similar volumes to those recorded last year and good quality. However, the price of Argentinian pears on the European market is better this year.
Chile: China offers opportunities
The Chilean pear season started in January and will last until October. Europe is the main destination for the country, but this year, the Chinese market will also open to Chilean pears for the first time. The focus is therefore on developing this new market and possibly redirecting some of its export volumes there.
Australia: Rico pears must conquer the Asian market
This year is the first commercial season for the Rico pear; a club variety that is grown in Tatura, in North Victoria. These pears are specially grown for export and are currently being shipped to Thailand. The plan is to achieve further growth on the Asian market. Although pears are available year-round, the season in the Goulburn Valley, the most important production region in the country, is about to begin. The season here runs from February to May. 88% of the pears come from this region.
Next week: Overview global banana market