Currently, demand is quieter than last year. "People are moving more cautiously and soberly in the trade overall. The stock volumes coming from the Benelux countries consist for the most part of goods from conversion farms. While it is not exactly characterized by a large variety, sufficient quantities should be available by April/May. Accordingly, demand for imported goods is certainly present, but more restrained. Since the other production areas such as France, Germany and Italy with their marketing are through or soon through, we can start gradually with the imported goods," says Thomas Dannapfel of ABC Fresh Ltd.
Largest stability of organic sales within retail
According to Dannapfel, organic goods are now being sold more through traditional food retailers, while organic specialty retailers have seen sales decline, especially for high-priced items. "What we've learned is that there is some stability in food retail for organic products, with at most slight declines in sales." ABC Fresh sources its organic produce exclusively from Argentina. Previously, they also sourced organic pears from South Africa and Chile, but neither would play a role, or at least a minor role, in this category, which would be in absolute contrast to conventional goods. "Conventional pears are, of course, also marketed to round out the range. This is primarily for free trade, while organic pears are used more in programs."
Freight capacity normalized
Furthermore, he said, the company faces the same cost structure and similar challenges as the year before. "Freight capacity has returned to some degree of normalization. However, in 2022, it was almost impossible for the industry to break even due to the unexpectedly agitated market situation. This year, we are optimistic that such difficulties will be mitigated by a more balanced starting point and consequently more regulated and stable market price." Usually, goods from overseas are marketed between mid-February to the end of June, though this year we should start the season around the beginning of March."
"In the end, though, it's also a question of storability, which applies to varieties such as Conference," Dannapfel says. The main varieties the company receives continue to include the popular Williams, Abate, Packhams Triumph, Anjou and the red variety Red Bartlett. The main sales market for ABC Fresh is in Germany, with a small portion also sold to Scandinavia, France as well as to the Benelux countries.
Oversupply of pears in 2022
As in previous year, "market-relevant quantities" would be available this year, according to ABC Fresh. "Last year, demand was influenced by the consequences of the war in Ukraine. The resulting lack of sales market in Russia and other countries quickly led to an oversupply on the European market. This mainly affected the conventional segment, but the organic market segment was also affected. So overseas produce didn't have too good a season," Dannapfel recalls. "For Argentine organic pears, the U.S. is also an important market, which at least provided some balance in the market. U.S. demand is expected to remain stable this year as well."
The demand for organic pears from overseas was still rated as "excellent" before the start of the 2022 season. "European stock was sold off quickly due in part to weather-related crop losses. This led to a good starting position for both conventional and organic pears. All signs pointed to a good year for imported pears. As a result, we were able to plan and cover volumes in line with demand," Dannapfel said.
Overseas vs. regional goods
"Accurate demand planning for overseas imported produce is always particularly important in the organic sector. For example, there is a very abundant production of organic apples in Europe this season. As long as this is still in the form, it will still be quite difficult to place the imported goods well on the market. Of course, the regional goods will also be marketed preferentially before turning to overseas goods." This is similar in the organic pear sector, although not as drastic.
Depending on customer preference, the fruit is mostly used for marketing in multiway trays, with or without labeling. Some customers also preferred 500 g trays. In the specialized organic trade, customers were mainly interested in standard loose packs in 15-kg cartons from the origin. "Our specialized organic packing operation in Hamburg is able to meet any customer request."
Visit the company at Fruit Logistica: hall 21, A-22.
Images: ABC Fresh GmbH
For more information:
ABC Fresh GmbH
Tel: +49 (40) 30 70 96 80
Fax: +49 (40) 30 70 96 89