Volumes in Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain are expected to fall this season following unstable weather conditions

Interpera, the international pear congress, was held this year in Portugal on 26-27 June, revealing the first figures and trends of the 2024 European pear harvest.

Rocha pears

According to organisers ANP and AREFLH, this year’s event saw the largest number of Interpera participants in the last ten years.

Around 200 producers, researchers, national and international companies from the sector gathered in the Oeste region of Portugal, described as the cradle of Rocha pear production, to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing the industry.

In studying the forecast for 2024, it was emphasised that there had been “a clear setback” in Europe with production down due to unstable weather conditions.

Belgium is predicting a drop of nearly 30 per cent, from 345,000 tonnes last year to 241,000 tonnes.

Spain’s total volumes are set to fall 25 per cent due to the effects of the water stress suffered by trees during the last campaign, down to 141,000 tonnes from 164,000 tonnes.

In the Netherlands, production is expected to be down on 2023’s 358,000 tonnes, although no firm estimate was available.

There is recovery in production for Portugal, France and Italy, but they too are not reaching their full potential, delegates heard.

Italy is set for growth, up from 184,000 tonnes of pears last year, with France’s volumes predicted to rise from 104,000 tonnes to 133,000 tonnes.

Finally, Portugal is forecasting a rise of 16,000 tonnes, up to 123,000 for 2024.

Portugal’s minister for agriculture and fisheries, José Manuel Fernandes, closed the event by calling on all professionals to work together to meet the challenges facing the sector, and emphasised the need to promote and defend the Rocha pear.

“After a difficult campaign in 2023, mainly due to climate change which has affected the European productions, it is essential to invest in research to combat pests, cope with extreme weather and improve the commercial organisation of the sector.” Fernandes noted.

Over the course of the two days, the other challenges and opportunities impacting the sector were discussed, including European regulations, water use, soil health, marketing, the orchard of the future, and diseases and pests.