Italian consortium Vog has said it has reached a crucial point in the apple season, and is reporting that crop levels and sales have been strong, while, on the export side, new markets are opening in India and South America.
The consortium's 2016 crop totalled out at 627,000 tonnes of apples, +2 per cent compared to the previous season's crop.
Results for the individual varieties differed. While Royal Gala recorded a 4 per cent drop, there was an increase for Golden Delicious at +6 per cent and Braeburn with growth of 10 per cent.
The biggest drop was in Fuji (-22 per cent), Granny Smith (-8 per cent) and Morgenduft (-16 per cent). After a fairly weak 2015 crop, there were good increases for all the Club apples, almost reaching full crop levels, as in the case of Cripps Pink.
After a fairly slow start in September and October, markets picked up strongly in November and December.
“As the new year begins, we are perfectly in line with our sales plan,” states Gerhard Dichgans, director of the Vog Consortium. “Here again, performances differ from variety to variety. Royal Gala and Red Delicious have done extremely well, with sales exceeding our forecasts in December. Sales results for Fuji, Braeburn and Granny Smith are in line with our expectations, also considering the smaller crop volumes. The only note of weakness is in Golden Delicious, where the closure of the export markets, especially Egypt and the Maghreb, is having adverse repercussions.”
Earnings from sales are at the same level as or a few cents above those of the previous year, except for a rise in the case of Royal Gala, where – with more than 60 per cent of the crop already sold – the strong market demand has made larger increases in quotations possible.
As 2017 begins, attention is focused on the coming months and possible market developments: “Looking to the future, the first positive note is that the quality of the apples in store is excellent, a great improvement on last year's quality,” Dichgans commented. “This also applies to our Royal Gala apples, where last year we had a few problems. This year, in contrast, we can count on a good fruit storage quality and can supply our customers until end of March/first week of April.”
Vog's sales on the Italian market and to its consolidated European destinations are proceeding to plan, although the consortium has cause for concern with regards to the North African markets, which during the last few years have gradually become strategic for Italian apples.
In Libya and Algeria the market has virtually shut down due to a massive devaluation of the local currency. Egypt, the outstanding partner for Italian fruit and South Tyrolean apples until summer 2016, no longer has the financial resources to pay for imported goods, which have become too expensive.
In the meantime, alternative markets had opened up: exports to the Middle East and the Arabian Peninsula were proceeding apace. Trends in sales to Spain and, surprisingly, exports to South America and India are good.
“We are confident with regard to the rest of the sales season thanks to a trend we've been seeing for some years now,” Dichgans added. “Even in the second half of the season, customers continue to prefer European produce. This is at the expense of imports from the Southern Hemisphere, which have been losing large shares of the European market for the last five years. And this year, given the quality of its offering, South Tyrol is well placed to take advantage of this trend.”