Year Overview: March

The month of March saw some significant events, for one the blockage of the Suez Canal. On top of that, Fruit Logistica would be canceled altogether, as the measures against the pandemic made such an event impossible.

At the start of March, the first Tanzanian avocados found their way to the Dutch market. The rain that hit Chile in February would have a much larger impact in terms of losses than originally expected. Belgium harvested 30% more pears than the year before, making its position similar to the one Poland has in the apple market. New Zealand also saw a big harvest, be it for their kiwis. Expectations were that this year would be a record harvest for the kiwis.

Brazilian papayas managed to retain high demand throughout the entire pandemic, as the papayas found their way to several European markets. The PMA would announce an in-person Fresh Summit in New Orleans. Signs were showing of the US import logistics collapsing, as unprecedented bottlenecks started to appear. The Texas freeze pushed demand for lemons, particularly from California, but there were hopes that Texas onions and cabbage crops could recover from the frost.

Tough times for bananas from Ecuador, as almost 800 hectares of bananas were affected by cold, rains and ash. European traders stated they had been ready for Brexit, but that the Brits were totally unprepared for the new situation. Egyptian oranges were still in full swing, and predictions were made that a massive majority of the oranges shipped worldwide would originate from Egypt. Chilean cherries left the Chinese markets, but prices plummeted near the end of the season. South African stone fruit had a solid year, as all plum cultivars performed well in the season.

The US sweet potato growers were relieved, with an agreement between the European Union and the U.S. to suspend tariffs of billions of dollars on a variety of products, including sweet potatoes. The Southern California port congestions started to affect other ports as well, like the Port of Oakland. Demand on mushrooms took a turn, as supplies were much tighter during this period. Bananas saw a rollercoaster year, as the hurricanes in Central America putt pressure on the market.

Fruit Logistica announced that the already postponed event would be canceled entirely. The ongoing pandemic made it impossible for the event to be held. Fruit Attraction announced that their event, which would be held in October, would not be held virtually, so visitors would meet face to face once again. Citrus production in both Egypt and South Africa was rising, leading to higher predictions for the yield that year. The container shortage was a real party-pooper to some of the fruit seasons that would’ve been almost perfect were it not for the logistical issues. Peruvian blueberry export volumes increased, which begged the question if the country could overtake Chile as the main blueberry supplier for China.

The global container shortage would also have an effect on US apples, as transport was slower than ideal. The blueberries from Florida entered a strong market, with steady volumes expected. The pandemic would continue to lift the demand for oranges in the United States, which was a trend that was seen globally. The hurricanes in Central America meant shippers had to turn to other supplying countries for the bananas. For greenhouses in Ontario, an increase of the acreage of 7.5% was expected.

By the end it was clear how disruptive the blockade of the Suez Canal to the world trade turned out, as refloating the vessel took a long time. It led to delayed bananas as well as increased shortage of containers, which were already not in great supply. Spanish mandarins had reached the last phase of the season, meaning Egyptian oranges would fill the opening. Due to greater availability of European onions, imports from New Zealand were deliberately delayed. Cauliflower availability in the United Kingdom was very strong, and severe frosts hit fruit growing areas in Spain.

A new Cranberry Cooperative of the Americas was launched in March. With Easter in mind, strong demand for pineapples in the US was anticipated. At this stage of the year, the Florida blueberries were a bit behind, as imported blueberries were dominant in the market. Growers were optimistic about the Californian cherry season, although a bumper crop was certainly not expected.

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