Covid-19 has had a different impact in different parts of the world, according to Marc Peyres, commercial director at French apple exporter Blue Whale.
“With apples, people eat more when they stay at home,” he said. “In France, consumption increased by 28 per cent last April. So sales have not been affected negatively, the reverse is true. We have a big distribution system that is quite effective, so even during Covid it’s been easy to distribute our fruit all around Europe.”
Outside Europe, Peyres says, it’s been a bit more complicated. “In a lot of countries, the market is mainly street markets,” he explains. “In that case, when there are closures, sometimes it is difficult to distribute the product. So outside of Europe, Covid has affected the business quite a lot. Importers were more cautious and import less. The crisis has also disturbed seafreight by reefer container. The service has been reduced so much that it is now very poor. This is a concern.”
Blue Whale started operations in Asia over 25 years ago, developing Royal Gala sales to replace Red Delicious. “In South-east Asia, the next few years we are going to develop new varieties,” revealed Peyres. “It is now the time for us in this market to start replacing Royal Gala. In our business, when we replace a variety it takes 20 years, so it is a long process.”
The exporter’s focus is on the more expensive, high-quality varieties, such as Candine, Pixie and Pink Lady. “In India, in the last two to three years our sales have been developing,” said Peyres. “We are now able to do 12 months supply with our Southern Hemisphere and Northern Hemisphere growers – 2020 is the first year we have been able to do this.”