The global peach, nectarine and paraguayo markets are off to a good start in many countries, despite adverse weather in some growing regions. In the Netherlands, the Spanish stone fruit season started slowly, but peaches, nectarines, and paraguayos supplies gradually improved.
Sales of paraguayos have surged in recent years, impacting the demand for peaches. Belgium continues to grapple with climatic issues, leading to limited availability and higher prices for quality stone fruit. In Germany, Spanish stone fruits dominate the market, followed by imports from Italy. Italian producers anticipate significant crop losses, while Spanish yields are higher this year. French distributors still prefer Spanish stone fruit, causing slower adoption of domestic peaches. Turkey's production of peaches and nectarines is increasing, meeting export demands and domestic consumption needs. South Africa expects a fruitful season for peaches and nectarines, benefiting from abundant rainfall. China's domestic peach crop benefits from upgraded facilities, ensuring stable taste and quality. In North America, supplies of peaches and nectarines remain limited due to weather challenges, leading to higher prices. Spanish imports are more prevalent, offering competitive pricing.
Netherlands: Stone fruit supply slow to start, paraguayos gaining ground
The Spanish stone fruit season had a somewhat slow start this year. According to importers, the supply of peaches, nectarines and paraguayos from Spain got off to a reasonable start from the end of last week and the Greek supply is now adding to that. In other years, there was occasional oversupply, but this is not the case now and therefore prices remain level. Dutch importers say that sales of paraguayos have picked up quite a bit in recent years at the expense of peaches. The platerina has never been able to achieve this growth, so nectarines do retain their share.
Belgium: Climatic issues continue to affect stone fruit
Supply is now picking up in Spanish stone fruit on the Belgian market, but is still marked by the country's climatic problems. "Last week things improved slightly, but it still remains difficult to get hold of good-quality stone fruit," a trader explained. "The problems with water availability still remain big. There was rain last week, of course, but torrential rain does not solve the water problem. The water runs off again very quickly and that is not what is needed. It has to have time to soak into the ground. The result is that here, too, prices remain high for the time of year, as in sales still seem to be a barrier for consumers."
Germany: No strong demand for stone fruits
According to a Federal Agency, Spanish stone fruits dominated the German market, while those of Italian origin followed in terms of importance. A few Turkish and Greek shipments were merely imported supplementary. French batches were only to be found in Cologne. In general, interest was not particularly strong, however, it could be satisfied without difficulty. Valuations mostly tended downward, but increases in price were also observed. In particular, AA calibre grades, which are popular with customers, showed rising prices. paraguayos and platerinas generated sufficient attention thanks to their very appealing organoleptic properties and were sold at a good pace in Berlin.
A German importer with strong ties to Italy says that crop losses of 40 to 50 percent are expected for stone fruit. In the Emilia-Romagna region, for example, many fields are flooded, causing some crops such as melons and stone fruit to die. In Sicily, he said, flowering had also been severely affected by the weather, so fewer peaches and nectarines are expected. Another importer claims that despite the current weather conditions, the yields in Spain are higher this year. End consumers are asking for larger calibres of nectarines and peaches. He also sells Italian nectarines, however, they were sold much cheaper with lower quality.
France: Spanish products preferred over French
As of June 1, 2023, the estimated annual production of peaches and nectarines this year is set reach 228,700 tonnes. This production level would be close to last year's and the average for the last five harvests (2018-2022) (+1%). At the end of May, hailstorms hit Occitanie's production basins. Their precise impact is not yet known. In the Roussillon region, the latest rainfall reduced the water deficit observed since the start of the year. In the PACA region, the latest rainfall is limiting the risk of drought before the harvest. Harvesting should start slightly later than last year, when it was early. Production is expected to exceed that of 2022 and the average of the last five harvests. In the Rhône Valley, windy spells and hail in May weighed on production, which was down year (-14%). The first harvests are expected to be slightly later than in 2022. Regarding the market, demand is strong, but despite the early arrival of French products, distributors prefer Spanish products and are therefore slow to open lines for French peaches.
Italy: Nectarine and peach prices drop due to Spanish supply
A trader from northern Italy explains how the market for peaches and nectarines has changed in just a few days. He says that until the end of week 23, prices were high, even 1.60 €/kg for fruit in baskets and higher prices (2.30 €/kg for example) for larger sizes. Then, at the beginning of week 24, a lot of produce started to arrive on the markets, both from the south of Italy and from Spain, and this caused prices to fall. The operator says that sales, in terms of volume, are not very high and in any case the price is determined by Spanish productions which are important in terms of quantity and with competitive prices. There is now a lot of product in Spain, because in some regions there have been very high temperatures that have ripened a lot of product at the same time.
The commercial trend up to week 23 was also confirmed by an Apulian producer who spoke of 'a peculiar stone fruit season that cannot be compared to any other'. As far as the situation in the orchards is concerned, the producer says: "We are in harvest with the early nectarines, which are good to eat and have an appropriate Brix degree. In 15 days, we will move on to the mid-season varieties. We are also starting to harvest the first volumes of pavia (yellow peach). The situation has improved compared to the beginning of the campaign, as the volumes of super early peaches and nectarines were very limited due to the bad weather. For this segment, the excessive rain caused the cracking of the fruit."
A producer from Campania adds: "The stone fruit campaign is going well so far. This year we are seeing quotations 40% higher than in the previous year, with good consumption in line with demand. The only problem this season is the low yields: in our case about 30% less than last year due to the adverse weather conditions, especially hail, which compromised a lot of production. As it currently stands, the demand for summer fruit is conspicuous, but Italian production alone is not enough to satisfy all the demand, so many fruit traders are forced to buy the product in Spain as well. Already at the beginning of the stone fruit campaign, in addition to a drop in production, a shortfall was predicted for some references, for which high prices are now being recorded: for pavia (yellow peach), for example, we have to consider quotations upwards of at least € 0.20-0.30 more per kilo compared to peaches and nectarines."
The Sicilian peach and nectarine season is not yet in the harvesting phase, but a very good production quality is expected, albeit with due distinctions. "We have not had the usual spring, almost summer-like weather, which would have allowed us to harvest the produce much earlier," explains a producer. "The peach season usually runs from mid-June to October, but it will be delayed for several more days. Nectarines have also come into production, but only in small quantities and with very high prices. It is clear that no quotation can be given at such a early stage and we will have to wait at least ten days, when with increasing volumes we will be able to talk about prices at the beginning of the campaign. With a general lack of product (Italian and foreign), there will be a greater demand not only from the domestic markets, but also from the European ones, France in first instance, with volumes that could grow exponentially. Everything, however, must be evaluated in the coming weeks with the consolidation of production volumes, especially nectarines, which are more delicate to handle."
Turkey: Production of peaches and nectarines on the rise
Overall production of Turkish peaches and nectarines is increasing as more farmers turn to the specific crop. Turkey has an average of 800,000 tons of peaches and nectarines produced annually and yields seem to be normal this season. The most important detail is that because the producers implement a planned and correct production strategy in the production of early-medium and late varieties, the products are harvested on time and meet the demand-oriented export and domestic consumption without excess supply. The major importing countries for peach nectarine products on behalf of Turkey are Russia, Germany, Ukraine and Romania. Not many exporters turn to Far Eastern countries in terms of packaging and product quality, and there is an increase in demand for Turkish fruit in these countries.
South Africa: Good season expected for South African stone fruit
There’s lots of rain in the Western Cape, where the majority of South Africa’s peaches and nectarines are grown, even localized flooding.
According to a stone fruit grower: “We’re getting proper rain and snow at the moment. It’s been a nice cold May and June so far, which is excellent. Very good for fruit set and if it continues in this way, with a cold winter and early next spring, it will be a bumper crop of peaches and nectarines.”
Peaches and nectarines are imported from Spain, demand will always be there for nectarines for packing school lunches, remarks a supermarket buyer. The first imported peaches and nectarines have just arrived (along with Spanish cherries). Spanish fruit is looking “very very good”, the buyer continues, with Brix of 12+ and very good varieties of yellow and white flesh.
There’s a gap of about four months between South Africa’s last fruit and Spain’s first, when there are barely any peaches and nectarines available in South Africa. Peach and nectarine imports run until mid-August.
Paraguayo peaches have been sporadically sold in South African supermarkets, even sold on the wholesale market at times, but consumers don’t know it. Some retailers are holding out for flat nectarines which, they believe, have great lunchbox potential. Some stone fruit growers have been trialling paraguayos in South Africa.
China: Peach crop benefits from warm, dry weather
Domestic peaches are grown in Shandong, Henan, Shanxi, Hebei, and Anhui. Recently, many peach-producing areas have been upgraded. New sorting and storage facilities increase the quality and shelf-life of China's domestic peaches. The taste and quality of this year's peaches are stable. A grower commented that because the weather is a bit dry this year, it has affected the sugar content of the fruit. Peaches taste very sweet, and they are easy to sell in wholesale markets. A trader from Xiamen commented that although there was a late spring due to cold weather this year, it had little impact on the growth of the peaches. Many peach planting areas experienced little rain, high temperatures, and sunshine. The weather conditions have improved the yield of the trees, with some coming in early production. China also imports peaches from Chile and Australia. Chile is a main supplier of peaches and plums, which volumes reached over 135,000 tons last season.
North America: Peach and nectarine supplies still on the lighter side
Supplies of peaches and nectarines are still tight. Historically, peaches and nectarines should have been coming in more heavily from states such as Georgia and the Carolinas. However, a March freeze affected many Eastern stone fruit producing states. (South Carolina is looking at approximately 10 percent of its peach crop and prices are double over last year’s pricing.)
On the West Coast, California had a late start and colder weather is making it a challenge to catch up. “Sizing is getting bigger but not at the speed the market needs,” says one shipper.
Also shipping fruit into Canada is Spain, more so than last year. “The freight is also lower so with Spain, there will be more competitive pricing,” says the shipper.
With the lack of supply, demand looks strong and prices are higher than last year at this time. Also factoring into pricing is the predominance of California’s fruit--California fruit pricing is usually much higher than the East coast, as are freight costs.