This year once again, the situations are very contrasted due to highly variable yields, depending on the location (weather events) and the production route chosen.
As in its neighboring countries, the French production has had a very low level of apricots.
“We’ve started to draw lessons from this assessment, so that we can already prepare for the next season now, with a few important topics: production routes that save on inputs (eco-responsible orchards), adjusting the offer to the demand (categories, segments, periods), packaging etc,” explains Raphaël Martinez, manager of Peaches and Apricots of France.
The apricot season has been characterized by a particularly small harvest in Europe and in France this year, and a relative precocity. Sales took place in an “unstable” commercial context, and the transformation of the sector continues.
A particularly low European offer
Source: Europêch and Agreste
In France, the harvest was impacted by frost episodes in Rhône-Alpes and Provence, the mild winter and the spring rains.
Evolution of the French apricot production
Source: Europêch and Agreste
In the end, the French harvest was even lower than predicted, with -43% for the PDO.
Evolution of the weekly apricot inputs 2019 and 2020
The commercial context has been disrupted by the coronavirus crisis. During lockdown, priority was given to French products and to the pleasure of cooking. Collective catering and markets have progressively reopened. Contrary to other sectors, food consumption was maintained, with even a good performance by supermarkets and some retailers.
At the end of the lockdown, a 4.5% increase in spending was observed in July, but it was soon followed by a “price war” again, as retailers feared a difficult -0.12% return of consumer prices in July.
In parallel, the transformation of the sector continues. This change can be seen by the evolution of the orchard and production methods. Plantations have slowed down considerably (3% renewal rate). Orchards are being uprooted due to the bad 2016-2019 results, and the production potential is now lower than 150,000 tons. Additionally, we observe an evolution of the HEV and Eco-responsible Orchards specifications and of the input reduction itineraries.
This change is also characterized by actions at the marketing level, with varietal selections based on agronomic and commercial criteria to obtain yield and quality, a gradual implementation of the quality indicator and changes in distributors’ specifications.
Regarding the market, this year was exceptionally fluid. The export demand was also better and prices were high.
Evolution of the weekly apricot stocks 2018, 2019 and 2020
Prices were high for much of the season.
Shipping prices orange-rouge and late apricots Cal. 2A, Cat. I
Shipping prices bergeron apricots Cal. 2A, Cat. I
In terms of production, in a European context of deficits, the French harvest was cut almost in half by frost in Provence and Rhône-Alpes and by weak flowering and rains in Roussillon.
On the market, we observed a good transition between Spain/France and a good start of the season characterized by low competition, along with a market with a supply deficit and high prices from beginning to end.
It is difficult to draw an average result for such an atypical year. The season was very frustrating for the producers affected by the bad weather, and satisfactory for the rest.