At this week’s Prognosfruit conference, experts discussed the outlook for the 2022/23 topfruit season in Europe, with apple and pear production expected to grow by 1 per cent and 20 per cent respectively

WAPA, the World Apple and Pear Association, has released its annual apple and pear crop forecast for the 2022/23 season, reporting a 1 per cent expected increase in apple production and a 20 per cent rise in pear volumes after last year’s record low crop.

The figures were unveiled at the annual Prognosfruit conference, which is being held in Belgrade, Serbia, where more than 200 international representatives of the apple and pear sector have congregated to discuss the outlook for the season.

Philippe Binard, secretary general of WAPA, commented: “The apple production in the EU27 and UK is estimated to increase by 1 per cent to reach 12,167,887 tonnes compared to last year. This year’s crop is also forecast to be 9 per cent above the average of 2019-2020-2021.”

According to WAPA, the European crop is continuing to adapt to the demands of consumers in terms of varieties and quality specifications. 

Dominik Wozniak, WAPA’s president, stated: “The prospects for the upcoming season are positive, although the sector will have to be prepared to face a variety of challenges including significant rising costs impacting the competitiveness of the sector, intense weather conditions, logistical issues, inflation, and difficulty to secure seasonal workers, with the ultimate goal of increasing consumption thanks to the quality of the products of the season and reverse the recent negative trend.”

Binard added: “The EU pear crop for 2022 is estimated to increase by 20 per cent compared to last year’s record low crop of the decade and by 5 per cent compared to the three-year average, rising to 2,077,000 tonnes, mainly due to Italy and France more than doubling their production compared to 2021 (reaching 473,690 tonnes and 137,000 tonnes respectively), although, in the case of the former, the crop remains below its full potential.”

WAPA said it would continue to monitor the developments in the Northern Hemisphere crop, with plans to issue updates when available. 

Prognosfruit 2022 has been organised by WAPA and Serbia Does Apples, gathering experts from 23 countries to discuss the forecasts and analyse the European apple and pear market, including the latest trends in processing, organics and cider. 

Luc Vanoirbeek, general secretary of the Association of Belgian Horticultural Cooperatives (VBT) and representative of fruit and vegetable growers at Copa-Cogeca, commented: “The Belgrade meeting was the ideal opportunity to learn more about the development in the EU neighbourhood, including Serbia, Moldova, Ukraine, Turkey, as well as the Central Asia and Caucasus region. The additional contributions from representatives of China, India and the US provided to the conference a global outreach with the full picture of the whole Northern Hemisphere crop forecast.” 

Binard concluded: “The strong attendance at this first in-person Prognosfruit Conference after two years of online meetings is a clear sign that the sector representatives also very much appreciate the sense of community and networking opportunities that Prognosfruit provides. We look forward to continuing this tradition next year in Trento, Italy from 2 to 4 August 2023.”