The first sweet and sour cherries of this year's season are already being picked in the stone-fruit orchards of southern Hungary. Soon, the stone fruits from the Central European Republic will find their way onto the Austrian and German markets. Although the late frost will cause damage to property and loss of harvest this year, a successful export season is generally expected, confirms Sandór Makai (picture right), stone fruit exporter and managing director of Makai Frucht.
"In the course of next week, the first sweet and sour cherries of this year's season are waiting for us", the fruit trader announces. The cherries will be purchased from a total of about 25 producers in southern Hungary, the lion's share of the goods will be exported immediately after harvesting. "Despite the loss of the harvest, we expect a total export volume of around 200 tonnes this year. It should also be mentioned that next year we will be able to offer full quantities from our new plantation by 60 ha for the first time. This will enable us to increase our cherry yield to about 600 tons."
Cherry trees in the south of Hungary
Apricots from Hungarian production
The Makai Frucht company was founded in 2008 and is located in Szentes, southern Hungary. One year later the stand sales opened at the Viennese wholesale market in Inzersdorf, where during the season (end of May - end of August) fresh products from Hungarian cultivation are offered daily. Next to sweet and sour cherries, apricots are the second mainstay of the company's turnover. Just as with cherries, apricots are also extremely weather-dependent, according to Makai: "Due to the weather, we expect a fairly low yield of only 200 tonnes this year. The first ones will arrive by mid-June, after which we will probably be able to offer the apricots until August".
An extension of the season until September would be desirable, he continued. Therefore, several late varieties are now being tested in cultivation.
Makai Frucht still exports the product mainly to Austria and Poland. Germany is nevertheless an important growth market for the company. "We already serve some customers in Munich and southern Germany, but we would like to expand our activities."
Fresh apricots from Hungarian production are usually available between mid-June and mid-August.
The stand sales at the Viennese wholesale market mainly supply wholesale customers and specialist retailers. Makai observes that the importance of apricots in Austrian trade is particularly high. "The Hungarian batches usually come onto the market a little earlier than the domestic ones. However, we also achieve good sales during the domestic apricot season, because the Austrian production volume is simply not sufficient to cover the entire demand."
Makai Frucht sorting and packing centre
Proximity to the sales market
According to the experienced dealer, competition from Mediterranean countries, such as Spain and Italy, is also rather low. "Due to the long transport time to Austria, the fruits there are usually picked too early, which means that the degree of ripeness and thus the taste and structure are not yet optimal. On the other hand, we have the advantage of being able to supply the Austrian market with daily fresh produce within a very short time."