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Interpoma 2014

"We need to import less and export elsewhere"

The ninth edition of Interpoma started with the international convention "The apple in the world". The congress was coordinated by fruit-growing expert Kurt Werth and has become a must for the entire sector. The first of the three days was dedicated to the new market flows.

The Russian ban
Dominik Wozniak, form the Polish Rajpol cooperative, explained that "a year ago, the situation was really different and nobody expected what happened this summer." The Russian ban will in fact force many exporter countries to reallocate their produce.

Dominik Wozniak, from Polish cooperative Rajpol, during his speech

"It will be difficult to sell in Europe, but there are possibilities in North Africa, United Arab Emirates and Arabia," explained Helwig Schwartau, fresh produce manager for Hamburg's AMI. "We need to import less and export elsewhere. We hope that only 250 thousand tons will reach Europe from the southern hemisphere this year, so we can breathe."

European apple exports in 2013/14 compared with those of the previous season (Presented by Helwig Schwartau, source: Eurostat)

"This is the time to unite Eastern and Western Europe in order to sell our apples together and promote our fruit in India, Arab Emirates and even China. We need to start talking about European apples," concluded Wozniak.

Gottfried Tappeiner, professor at Innsbruck University (Austria), Steve Lutz, from Columbia Marketing International (USA) and Peter Beaven, chairman of WAPA - World Apple and Pear Association (New Zealand) also made speeches.

A snapshot from the convention.

Their interventions drew a picture of apple cultivation worldwide.

Polish apple production has been growing since 2010 and is expected to continue doing so in the future. The estimate for this season is of 3.5 million tons.

Russian imports from EU-28, per year and per market share (Presented by Helwig Schwartau, AMI processing of GTA data).

"For 60 years, Russia was our main market, and it remained so also after the fall of the Berlin wall. But now we can forget it. An alternative could be sending produce to North America, the Emirates and India. The EU is also a good destination market. Polish apples might not be of the best quality, but shipments of Royal Gala to the UK are increasing. The only problem could be with Eda Red, which were cultivated specifically for Russia."

Exports are increasing. Shipments towards southern Europe have dropped (-20%) due to Polish exports and of course those towards Russia have stopped. More produce is therefore shipped to extra-European destinations.

Medium-term exports. 2013/14 data compared with 2009/10. (Presented by Helwig Schwartau, source: Eurostat).

One in three trees is of the Gala variety, but only 15% of the apples on the market are Gala, so there must be a lot of new implants that are not producing yet.

Exports dropped by 1.8% and consumption and production dropped by 15% - this is a sign that the country is becoming almost self-sufficient.

Helwig Schwartau, manager of the fresh produce office for AMI in Hamburg (Germany).

The situation is similar to France. Self-procurement is around 60%, but there is still the need to import such varieties, for example the Pink Lady.

Significant drop in apple production in favour of small fruits. Though there is an increase (+16%) of club apples.

Club varieties are doing well throughout Europe. "There is potential to produce 400 thousand tons and the market is still very dynamic."

The public of the convention.

United Kingdom
National production grew but there is still a long way to go before the country can become self-sufficient. Poland is increasingly present with the Gala variety, so the market is full.

Steve Lutz, CMI (United States), during his speech at Interpoma

United States
Cultivated areas and consumption have both decreased. Between 1997 and 2007, apple growers have dropped by 26%, though production has been increasing since 2002. Since 2007, apples have become quite profitable despite the drop in consumption.

The turnover of some club varieties in 2014. The bottom data refers to the growth in advertisement investments (Presented by Steve Lutz, source: Nielsen Perishables Group FreshFacts).

"Apples are difficult to manage in the States, as genetic superiority is considered crucial," explained Steve Lutz. Just think that historical varieties such as Golden, Granny and McIntosh are not doing so well. The new 'queen' of US apples is Honeycrisp. "Owner brands guide investments and consumers are discovering new varieties. Actually, we are not selling more apples, but we are selling them at a higher price - last year, Honeycrisp apples were 50% more expensive than average."

The chairman of the World Apple and Pear Association (WAPA), Peter Beaven, during his speech.

New Zealand
In the past 20 years, production increased but cultivated hectares remained the same, as the process became more efficient. Between 2001 and 2014, the number of growers dropped from 1560 to 320, whereas yields per hectare grew from 40 to 60 tons. The production of Braeburn dropped, whereas Jazz and Pink Lady have increased.

How the shares of the different apple varieties have changed (Presented by Peter Beaven).

New Zealanders have also started selling Piqua - a crossbreed between an apple and a pear (click here for more info).
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