Dec 7, 2018
World apple, pear production drops on China losses

The United States Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service issued its biannual report, published in June and December, including data on U.S.and global trade, production, consumption and stocks, as well as analysis of developments affecting world trade in apples, fresh table grapes and pears.

World fresh apple production is forecast down to its lowest level in eight years, falling 5.6 million metric tons (tons) to 68.6 million, as weather-induced losses in China more than offset gains in the European Union.

Exports are projected down to 6.0 million tons on lower shipments by China and Iran, while imports are expected to remain nearly unchanged at 5.8 million. China’s production is projected to plummet 25 percent to 31.0 million tons, its lowest level in nine years. Losses resulting from a severe April frost in major producing provinces were further magnified by heavy rain and hail in May. Exports are projected lower on reduced supplies, down 18 percent to 1.1 million tons, while imports are forecast up 7,000 tons to 75,000. EU production is forecast to surge 40 percent to a record 14.0 million tons as orchards rebound from last year’s severe spring frost and yields improve due to a mild winter.

Rejuvenated supplies are expected to drive exports up 80 percent to 1.4 million tons, but also limit imports to 493,000 tons. U.S. production is expected to remain nearly flat at 5.0 million tons as losses resulting from lower fruitset in top-grower Washington offsets gains in the majority of apple-growing states.

The National Agricultural Statistics Service surveyed industry and published a U.S. forecast for apple production in the August 2018 Crop Production report.

Exports are forecast down over 150,000 tons to 850,000 on lower shipments to top markets including Mexico, which placed a retaliatory tariff of 20 percent on U.S. apples effective June 5. Imports are expected to rise 16,000 tons to 150,000 on higher shipments from Canada and New Zealand as domestic supplies are flat.

Russia’s output is projected up 143,000 tons to 1.5 million as commercial production rises over 100,000 tons on higher yield, surpassing non-commercial, or household production. Government support has spurred investment, from planting new orchards to improving orchard maintenance, resulting in commercial production exceeding non-commercial production in consecutive years for the first time since 2008/09. Higher supplies are expected to dampen imports, down slightly to 815,000 tons.

Chile’s production is forecast nearly unchanged at 1.3 million on reduced planting area. This will be the sixth straight year of declining acreage as growers continue to switch orchards to more profitable crops such as cherries and tree nuts. Exports are also expected to decline, contracting 30,000 tons to 720,000 on lower supplies.

Mexico’s production is set to decline for the third straight year, slipping over 50,000 tons to 660,000 as a late frost affected orchards in the states of Coahuila and Durango. In spite of lower supplies, imports are expected to contract slightly to 275,000 tons as a 20-percent retaliatory tariff on U.S. product limits imports.

Argentina’s production is expected to rise slightly to 530,000 tons on higher yield while acreage continues its downward trend. High input costs and low returns continue to pressure growers into removing orchards from production or converting them to more profitable crops such as grapes. Higher output is forecast to lift exports to 100,000 tons.

New Zealand’s production is forecast to continue its upward trend, rising 15,000 tons to 580,000, as good growing conditions and new plantings come into production. This will be the fourth record high in seven years. Orchard expansion has been growing at an estimated rate of 3 to 4 percent annually, and nearly half of all planted area is now comprised of “club,” or patented and trademarked, varieties. In line with production, exports are also projected to reach a new record, rising to 390,000 tons as shipments likely shift from the European Union with its record crop back towards Asian markets.

South Africa’s production is projected up 36,000 tons to 850,000 as normal weather conditions and recuperating water supplies aid the recovery of orchards after years of drought. Exports are forecast to rise 21,000 tons to 550,000 as improved apple quality leads to greater exportable supplies.

Turkey’s production is expected to rise to 3.0 million tons due to good growing conditions in the winter and during bloom and fruitset. Greater supplies are slated to boost exports 31,000 tons to 220,000, especially with higher shipments to Iraq.

India’s production is forecast to rebound from last year’s weather-affected crop, rising almost 400,000 tons to 2.3 million. The ongoing ban on China imports is expected to pressure imports downward to 225,000 tons.

Pear production

U.S. pear production is expected to remain nearly unchanged at 667,000 tons as gains in Washington and Oregon offset losses incurred in California from a freeze during bloom and increased incidences of fire blight disease. The National Agricultural Statistics Service surveyed industry and published a U.S. forecast for pear production in the August 2018 Crop Production report. Exports are expected slightly higher at 125,000 tons on stronger demand from Mexico, while higher shipments from Argentina are expected to lift imports to 85,000 tons.

World pair production is forecast down 3.1 million tons to 19.4 million due to a damaging April frost in China. Exports are expected to contract slightly to 1.8 million tons on lower supplies, while imports are projected to remain flat at 1.7 million.

China’s production is projected down 20 percent to 13.1 million tons due to a severe April freeze during bloom, especially in the major growing provinces of Hebei and Shandong. Reflecting smaller supplies, exports are forecast to drop over 20 percent to 430,000 tons, while imports are expected up slightly to 10,000 tons. EU production is forecast to rise again, up almost 140,000 tons to 2.5 million on good growing conditions in the Netherlands and Poland. Higher output is expected to boost exports 20,000 tons to 365,000, including higher shipments to China.

Greater market share in China is expected as the EU fills the supply gap left from anticipated lower U.S. shipments due to retaliatory tariffs. Imports are forecast down to 185,000 tons on higher domestic supplies.

Argentina’s production is projected higher to 580,000 tons, up 30,000 on improved yield as planted area continues its decline. Exports are forecast up 10,000 tons to 330,000 on higher demand in Brazil. For both production and exports, this year marks a second straight year of gains following several years of decline, however, the industry remains hampered by high input costs and its inability to attract investment.

Chile’s production is expected to slip 10,000 tons to 252,000, a decline for the second straight year as planted area contracts while yield remains normal. Exports are forecast down 5,000 tons to 125,000 on lower output.

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