In the French region of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, which produces half of France’s apricots, 95% of the apricots have been destroyed by frost, especially in the departments of Ardèche and Drôme. The worst year of the decade for the sector.
Despite the promises of governmental aid, some arboriculturists do not know yet if they will have any merchandise to sell this summer, and at which price.
Olivier Fraisse, arboriculturist in the Ardèche department, has 10 hectares of apricot orchards. All his trees are dead and 95% of the apricots of the department have been destroyed. “State, region, department, everyone will have to pay if we want to be able to start again next year,” explains Olivier Fraisse.
The president of the Lorifruit cooperative, based in the Drôme, is concerned about the future of the department’s workers. 35,000 seasonal workers are employed in the Drôme. “All the fruit (apricots, kiwis, peaches, cherries) are affected by this frost episode.” These climate problems will have consequences on labor that will most likely be reduced in half.
The French prime minister, Jean Castex, came to the affected area during the weekend to assess the damage. “Ten regions affected, hundreds of farms affected…I wanted to show, by my presence here, the solidarity of the country in this exceptional situation. We will use all the means at our disposal in such circumstances, regarding expenses especially, and we intend to bring together bankers, insurers and all the actors who can be mobilized.”
According to Gérard Gaydon, fruit and vegetable retailer, fruit prices are likely to soar. “The consequence on prices will be terrible, I think they will be very expensive.” He estimates that French apricots could go from 4 to 7 €/kg [4.8 to 8.3 USD/kg].
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