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Year overview - August

A year of the Russian embargo, Zespri in China, droughts and hail

Illegal grape shipment destroyed by European customs
In May 2015 a grape shipment arriving from Egypt containing two and a half tons of illegally grown grapes was destroyed at the Belgian customs. The grapes were of a protected variety and were grown without the necessary license.

The variety in question is the well-known white seedless grape variety “Early Sweet”™, owned by Grapa Company. Grapa is a family owned business based in Cyprus; it was founded over 15 years ago with the sole purpose of breeding and commercializing new table grape varieties. Today, it is a leader in the field and is managed by the Karniel family.

Hail caused 6 million euro damages in Valencia
According to La Unió de Llauradors' initial assessment, the Valencian countryside had direct losses for more than six million euro due to this weekend's hailstorms. Most of the damage was confined to the region of Alto Vinalopó, in Alicante, especially in three locations (Beneixama, La Cañada and Camp de Mirra).

The damage seems minimal despite the large size of the hail but producers will have to wait for the evolution of the crops to see if it is higher. Ironically, the big size of the hail helped to minimize damages, as it fell more clearly. In addition to the direct losses in the field, there were also losses in agricultural infrastructure (roads, margins, drip irrigation systems, etc.) that should be valued by the affected municipalities in the coming days.

US: Chilean lemon season in full swing
“We are in the middle of the Chilean lemon season and supplies are very good,” says Eric Gingrich with Earth Source Trading. “The fruit came early, but the timing was perfect as the California lemon season wrapped up early this year.”

EU top fruit prognosis: 11,974,000 tonnes of apples, 2,343,000 tonnes pears
The apple production in the 28 EU countries is estimated to be 11,974,000 tonnes this year. The pear harvest is estimated at 2,343,000 tonnes, based on the harvest forecasts that were made public at the annual Prognosfruit convention this morning. More than 300 representatives of the international apple and pear sector met at the 39th Prognosfruit Conference. At the Conference, WAPA (World Apple and Pear Association) released the 2015 European apple and pear crop estimates.

Fresh produce priority plan to beat Channel Tunnel delays
Plans to trial a "quick-to-market" route for vehicles carrying fresh produce that are caught up in continuing delays at the Channel Tunnel have been welcomed by the Scottish Government.

It comes after concerns were raised about the impact on Scottish businesses such as seafood exporters to France.

The UK Government yesterday confirmed plans for lorries to be parked at the disused Manston Airport in Kent to ease traffic backlogs queuing for Channel crossings.

Prime Minister opens Zespri’s Singapore sales and marketing office
The Prime Minister Rt Hon John Key today officially opened Zespri’s new sales and marketing hub in Singapore, which has been set up to manage the kiwifruit industry’s strong growth.

Zespri Chairman Peter McBride says it was an honour to have the Prime Minister open the new office.

Year of Russian product embargo in figures
Polls show that the majority of Russians support the embargo, in spite of the rise in food prices. This week marked one year since the introduction of Russian food sanctions: up to the introduction of these sanctions, imported foreign foodstuffs made up more than 30% of the Russian market.

2% devaluation of Chinese yuan stimulates fruit and veg export
The Chinese currency, the yuan, has been devaluated by the Chinese government by 1.9%. The purpose is to boost exports. This move came as a big surprise to the market. Mike Su from Sufresh, a Chinese importer and exporter, was very happy with the governments decision. "The government has made a very smart move. Fruit and vegetable export is going to see large growth, which is good for the industry."

Russia extends food embargo to 5 countries
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has signed a decree that extends the list of countries that fall under Russian counter sanctions, he said at a Cabinet meeting on Thursday, TASS reported.

"Now in addition to the European Union countries, Australia, Canada, Norway and the United States, that saw a ban on export of some agricultural products last August, we've added a number of countries - Albania, Montenegro, Iceland and Liechtenstein, and Ukraine under special conditions," the Russian prime minister said, recalling that these states have joined the earlier decision on the extension of the EU sanctions against Russia.

Scientists are working on a cross between apple and pear
At the academy of Osnabrück, researchers are working on a cross between an apple and a pear. The goal of the researchers is to breed a marketable hybrid between the two fruit types in the next few years, says Werner Dierend, the academy’s professor of fruit production.

Unprecedented drought worsens situation for EU veg
European vegetable canners and freezers are warning that the situation is critical for this year’s spring-sown, summer-harvested crops. The warning comes one month after announcing concerns over drought related crop shortages, and concludes that the situation for this year has worsened significantly.

Scotland: Wet summer puts damper on potato crop
Scottish scientists are warning that the chips could be down later this year due to a combination of dismal summer weather and scaled back potato planting.

Potato growers suffered a disastrous financial year in 2014 after a massive surplus of the crop caused prices to plummet.

To minimise the risk of being hit again by the same problems many farmers slashed the acreage they planted this year. But that move has exaggerated the impact of wet conditions, which caused a drop in yield of around 15 per cent. Experts fear this could spark a shortage on supermarket shelves.

Avocado prices up to 15 euro
Avocado prices are sky high right now, says Jan Vermeiren from Exofi, "Therefore, demand has fallen. Whenever the price rises above 10 Euro, demand is always a bit disappointing. The Ryan, Fuerte and Pinkerton avocados cost 11 Euro and the ready-to-eat Hass avocados cost 15 Euro."

Capespan North America signs exclusive citrus agreement
Capespan North America, a member of South Africa`s Capespan Group, has signed an exclusive citrus distribution agreement with S. Surabian & Sons of Dinuba, CA. The deal appoints Capespan North America as Surabian`s exclusive sales and marketing agent for its extensive line of fresh, California citrus products.

Low storage levels South African citrus
The market for South African citrus has been, in general, successful so far this season. Although South African exporters are finding more and more markets, the volume of oranges going to Europe is slightly higher than it was last year, "The difference this season was that the fruit arrived on an empty market, in which no stock space was created for the Valencia oranges," says Eddy Kreukniet from Exsa Europe.

US (CA): Latest report on drought losses
The drought is tightening its grip on California agriculture, squeezing about 30 percent more workers and cropland out of production than in 2014, according to the latest drought impact report by the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences.

In 2015, the state’s agricultural economy will lose about $1.84 billion and 10,100 seasonal jobs because of the drought, the report estimated, with the Central Valley hardest hit. The analysis also forecasts how the industry will fare if the drought persists through 2017.

UK: "By far the best cherry season yet"
The English cherry season has yet again seen record volumes this season. "By far the best overall, the cherry business is very good but also other stonefruit is doing exceptionally well, such as apricots, and plums which are getting into the height of the season and looking very good indeed," according to Jon Clark, Total Cherry.

The import season was also good and built up good sales momentum for the first domestic cherries, and considering that the English weather has not been great in July and August with generally low temperatures and cloudy skies, not usually conducive to cherry buying, sales were good throughout the summer.

Hail hits Dutch fruit growers hard right before harvest
For a long time, fruit growers in the Netherlands seemed to manage to evade the hail, but last night - right before the harvest - severe weather passed over the country from the southwest to the northeast, with heavy local thunderstorms, heavy winds and big hailstones. In Zeeland, West-Brabant and the Betuwe, this resulted in huge local damage. For the fruit growers affected, it's a drama, because most of them were to begin harvesting fruit this week or the next. When the crops dry, the total damage will become clear later today, but it's certain that a large area has been affected.

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