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Italy: 15% increase in pear prices

CSO – Centro Servizi Ortofrutticoli - data concerning this year's pear production has been presented, making it possible to make a first assessment on the 2016/17 campaign.

Volume data for Italy are based on reliable figures, unlike those concerning Europe, which are still estimates. More details as regards European pears should be made available by WAPA (World apple and pear association) over the next few days.

The figures were presented in Galleria (BO) by CSO Director Elisa Macchi. Production was 681,308 tons against the 764,001 of last year, i.e. an 11% drop but still within the average of 2011/14.

This is the second campaign with a lower production in terms of volumes since 2011. All the main cultivars registered a drop - Abate Fetel -11%, Williams -7%, Conference -14%, Kaiser -19%, Coscia -14%, Decana -22%. The only ones to register an increase were Carmen and Max Red Bartlett, with +10 and +6% respectively.

Production in tons (in 2015 and 2016) of the 6 main Italian varieties. Only two registered an increase in volumes. Click here to enlarge. (FreshPlaza processing of CSO data)

Of course, as it is the leading producer, Emilia-Romagna defined the entire trend, so much so that the production areas differ by just a couple of percentage points.

This season, Emilia Romagna produced 457,392 tons, i.e. 67% of the entire Italian production, meaning 2 out of 3 pears were produced in Emilia Romagna. Last year, 514.844 tons were produced (+11%) and the figure is 10% below the 2011/14 average. In this area too, all the main varieties experienced drops - Abate Fetel -10%, Williams -9%, Conference -17%, Kaiser -21%, Decana -23%.

All the producer regions experienced a drop - Veneto -12%, Lombardy and Piedmont -6% each, Friuli Venezia Giulia -13%. In southern Italy, where practically only Coscia pears are cultivated, a 21% drop was registered.

What seems to have improved is the quality of pears. While, during the last campaign, first quality (65+) Abate pears were 59% of the total, this year the percentage has risen to 64%, with an abundance of 75+.

The various grades of first quality Abate pears during this season (outer circle) and the last (inner circle). Click here to enlarge. (FreshPlaza processing of CSO data)

There has been an increase in the destocking of the various varieties, as can be seen from the chart below. The CSO also reports good news as regards consumption, which has increased in the past couple of years. This year, a +6.5% increase was registered compared to last year, though prices were stable, so that's probably not the reason behind the increase.

The destocking percentage on November 30th 2015 and 2016. Click here to enlarge. (FreshPlaza processing of CSO data)

All this of course has an effect on prices, which are 15% more expensive than last year. While it may seem positive, other data must also be taken into consideration, such as the quantities produced and sold and, most of all, how much it cost to produce.

Luca Granata, General Director of Opera, said that "despite the drop in production and increase in prices, the situation is still negative. We will see this kind of produce again in 20 years time - quality was superb, harvesting was good and grades were perfect. At these conditions, it would be a joke to reach those 20 eurocent/kg more that we would need. Once again, we are paying the price of fragmentation."
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