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AMI expert Helwig Schwartau on the market situation for apples and pears:

"A slight expansion of organic apple cultivation in Germany could be possible"

Following a dip in spending and a cautious approach to purchasing organic foods last year due to inflation, the organic market is once again gaining momentum. This resurgence also seems to be benefiting the market for fresh organic fruits, including apples, as highlighted by AMI expert Helwig Schwartau (r) during his presentation at Fruchtwelt Bodensee, using statistics and figures. "After the downturn in 2022, market forecasts are now slightly more optimistic, and there might even be a minor expansion in organic apple cultivation in Germany," he stated.

From a sales perspective, the season start for organic apples across Europe has been quite strong. The cumulative total sales up to week 06 in the current season have increased by six percent compared to the 21/22 campaign and by ten percent compared to last season. The balance sheet for apple marketing of organic apples in German retail in the last quarter of 2023 has been particularly pleasing. The total turnover has increased by 22.2 percent from 2022 to 2023, with a slight increase in the price per kilo (+2.1 percent). "These figures indicate a strong boost in the market segment, although the organic market share has not yet reached the high growth rates of the Corona years," Schwartau added, also mentioning the slightly more favorable promotional prices compared to last year.

In 2022, approximately 8,000 hectares in Germany were dedicated to organic apple production, similar to the previous year. The total organic cultivation area in Europe was around 60,000 hectares in 2021. The German harvest volume has been relatively constant over the past years.

Given the relatively low stock levels of certain varieties, especially Bio-Elstar, an early end to the season cannot be ruled out, Schwartau continues. The Europe-wide stock levels of Bio-Elstar (2,833 tons, as of Feb. 1) have not been this low in the past four years. With regards to organic production, the apple cultivation area is currently growing faster than consumption. "Italy and France are clearly under pressure. France markets up to 40 percent of its organic volume as conventional apples, while organic cultivation is significantly declining. Italy exports about two-thirds of its organic table apples, while newcomers are trying to establish themselves in the market through price incentives. Overall, the European consumption of organic apples stands at four to five percent, with a slight upward trend.

The total market volume of organic apples in Germany in the year 2021/22
was 71,200 tons, with an import share of about 34 percent. The majority of the imported goods came from Italy. Meanwhile, according to Schwartau, there have been some interesting shifts in the German retail sector. Overall, more than 70 percent of the total purchase volumes of organic apples are made through discounters and full-range retailers, while the natural food specialty stores have lost significance. A closer look at buyer demographics also shows that young singles are purchasing more organic apples than usual.

Overall, price-conscious shopping behavior continues to shape the consumption of organic fruit. However, more dynamism is also being observed in the higher price segment of the market. The pioneers in the organic fruit sector continue to be Scandinavia, Germany, and Austria. "To stabilize the market for apples, a corresponding consumption trend in Italy and France is necessary," explains Schwartau. Specifically, Italy and France are under pressure with organic apples, as the supply is not adjusted to the current demand. For exports to Germany, only Gala is suitable, while South Tyrol is successfully focusing more on club varieties.

For more information:
Helwig Schwartau
Phone: (040) 650 55 95-10

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