European apple stocks are quite small this year, so current prices are quite high and stable. The rapidly expanding presence of summer fruits - such as watermelons and stone fruit - has probably had an impact on the international apple market. "Sales of apples have obviously fallen in the last two weeks," says Michael Sparer (right), South Tyrolean trade broker and owner of the fruit agency of the same name.
Although a similar trend can be observed every year at this time of year, the general price level this year is extraordinarily high in the wake of the Corona crisis. Sparer: "Although apples are currently traded at quite high prices, compared to summer fruits, prices are still rather in the low range."
Domestic market and overseas imports
Due to the Corona crisis and the Italian lockdown, a large part of the national harvest was exceptionally sold within the national borders. "We have never been able to sell so much on the domestic market, especially with the commercial varieties. Especially in March, hamster purchases were also extreme in the apple sector, with customers buying five times the usual quantities in some cases. Although sales volumes weakened somewhat in April, they were still above average. This high sales level then continued until the third week of May."
At the moment stocks are rapidly running out: Gala and Granny Smith are already sold out, at Golden Delicious there are only remaining quantities. Therefore, Sparer confirms, it will soon be necessary to resort to South American imports to cover the demand. "According to the current forecast, however, exports from overseas will also be lower. Firstly, because transport and import handling will be considerably more difficult due to the Corona crisis, and secondly because there too this year there will simply be a smaller harvest available."
Lively export market
A large part of the South Tyrolean apple harvest is traditionally exported. For the export industry, several new sales markets have emerged in recent years. "North Africa and especially Egypt is currently an important market for us. Last month we received a lot of inquiries from customers there. Red Delicious and Golden, in particular, are being exported in large volumes."
Red Moon: niche apple of the future?
In addition to a trading and export agency, Michael Sparer manages his own orchard of 25 hectares. In addition to the standard Gala, Granny and Red Delicious, Crimson Snow and Red Moon also thrive here. "The latter is a red-skinned and red-fleshed variety which we planted two years ago. We now expect a first-time commercial yield of 40-50 tons."