Hopes of a recovery in Argentine topfruit exports are rapidly fading as the latest figures show that exports barely rose above the levels seen during last year’s disastrous campaign.
According to a report from Patagonia Norte, which operates terminals at the ports of San Antonio Este, Río Negro and Bahía Blanca, 104,693 tonnes of pears and 11,207 tonnes of apples were shipped in the January-March period, together marking a 2 per cent increase on the year-earlier total. This compares to an export total of 148,538 tonnes for the first quarter of 2013.
The region faces a major shortage of export-grade fruit this season due to weather issues and years of underinvestment that has led to many farms being abandoned. The 2016 pear harvest is estimated to be 30 per cent down on the previous year while in pears the shortfall is nearer 50 per cent.
“We hoped that things would change in this period but there are too many elements that are affecting our work,” Sebastián Hernández of the Allen Chamber of Producers told El Clarín. “Production costs have soared to ARS4 or even ARS5 per kg and very few producers are able to sell at that price. Many are opting not to harvest or sell their fruit at all.”
Producers held a meeting with the government this week in Buenos Aires at which they demanded the establishment of a minimum price of no less than ARS4 / kg.
The principle destination for Argentine topfruit in the first quarter was Russia (31,000 tonnes), followed by Italy (25,000 tonnes), the US (21,000 tonnes) and the Netherlands (18,500 tonnes).