The head of Europe’s largest fruit and vegetable producer organisation has welcomed a decision by the European Commission to approve the withdrawal of a further 35,000 tonnes of peaches and nectarines produced in the EU, but says it cannot be regarded as a long-term solution to the issue of stonefruit over-production.
Davide Vernocchi, president of Italian group Apo Conerpo, also heads up the fresh produce division of Italy’s agribusiness alliance Confcooperative. He commented: “The withdrawal of a further 35,000 tonnes of peaches [and nectarines] in the producing countries, decided yesterday by the EU Commission, is a measure that could boost the summer fruit market a little, even if it cannot be welcomed as a resolution.”
The move reportedly came after concerted pressure in particular from government officials in Italy and Spain, Europe’s two largest stonefruit producing countries, who have expressed concern over apparent poor returns to growers amid difficult market conditions.
The revised figure represents almost a tripling of the volume originally marked for withdrawal mainly in Italy, Spain and Greece, plus a small amount in Poland, with an additional 35,000 tonnes added to the 18,000-tonne provision allocated earlier in the year.
“The summer fruit crisis can no longer in any way be considered an issue of quotas,” he continued. “There are structural problems that have to analysed and addressed not by looking more closely at domestic fruit supply but by widening the picture to see what the other main European producers, Spain and Greece, are doing.”
Vernocchi observed that Spain was now supplying the European market with more than 500,000 tonnes of flat peaches alone, and suggested that some kind of check needed to be placed on the amount of new plantings being made. “We’re talking about volumes that we could describe as irrational at least.”