Year Overview: April

April saw temperatures plummet in Europe; In Italy from Piedmont to Tuscany, heavy losses of stone fruit and damages to kiwi and pome fruits. The extremely cold weather was also affecting growers in Germany and Austria, frost damaged the asparagus crops, one grower lost 80% of his kiwi berries, pears were also affected but some stone fruit had so far managed to escape damage.

Meanwhile in France many producers had lost their entire harvests. The apricot sector was particularly hard hit, but cherries, apples and pears are also affected. Later in the month Italy was again hit by frost which caused great damage not only in northern Italy, but also in the rest of the country. With Basilicata, Campania, Apulia and Calabria affected damaging stone fruit, kiwifruits and vegetables .

In Scotland one cherry grower spent 14 nights out of 15 protecting the trees from frost. Normally it would be 3-5 times over the whole season. Temperatures got down as low as -3 to-5 in the cherry orchards. Turkish cherries were also affected by cold weather, the season was slightly delayed. However, due to increasing acreage and the number of cherry growers, volumes were expected to exceed the volumes of the 2020 season. 

In the US apple growers were also concerned about the weather, while it’s still early in their seasons, two apple-growing regions have been contending with significant temperature shifts. Meanwhile exports of Washington apples was going nicely, but competition from Eastern Europe seems to be growing.

The Boards of Directors of the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) and United Fresh Produce Association (United Fresh) announced they reached an Agreement in Principle to create a new global trade association. The reopening of the the Suez Canal had the maritime cargo industry bracing for the next phase of the crisis – a race to ports around the world.

After postponing the Southern Exposure  event from its usual February date, the Southeast Produce Council was able to successfully hold the event with both in-person and virtual components.

In Italy strawberry sales were skyrocketing as Easter approached, meanwhile Morocco was taking the lead with blueberry exports to Europe. In South Africa the avocado season was starting with expectation of an exceptional Hass crop and although the harvest had not started, New Zealand was already predicting a record avocado harvest. In the US Californian and Mexican avocados were dominating the market.  

In Florida the peach crop was looking very good but a later start was expected due to cold weather and in Chile heavy rain earlier in the year was affecting the volumes mostly in white varieties. As the season progressed the quality of Chilean grapes remained difficult. In South Africa they were celebrating a record breaking grape harvest The grape harvest has started in Mexico with strong pricing

The European white grape market was grappling with delayed volumes arriving from India since the Suez Chanel blockage was resolved. In Australia the grape season was going well with an increase in quality and fruit size due to the favourable weather conditions. 

Mexican mangoes saw a 25 percent hike in prices after weather conditions during the growing season left mango supplies short. One grower was 50% down on volume compared to last year. The season was also expected to finish in May instead of August.

USDA has announced a new import requirement for Chilean stone fruit after the European Grapevine Moth (EGVM) was detected during a pre-inspection in February, the fruit would now have to be fumigated before entry, but this would affect the current season..

April also saw the first shipment of Egyptian oranges reach Japanese shores. All inspection procedures were completed and the oranges successfully entered the country. Pakistani mangoes were expected to gain entry to the Chinese market on a large scale in the summer and Peru was planning to ship its  first sample cherries to China in October 

The first new season kiwifruit from Zespri arrived in Shanghai when over 4,400 tons of Zespri golden kiwis, arrived at the Port of Nangang.

The Chilean Citrus Committee of ASOEX estimated a six percent increase in citrus exports. With a total citrus forecast of 387,000 tons, Chile expects to ship roughly 85 percent of all volume to the U.S. market. It was thought that  Chilean mandarins could see smaller sizing this season  Spanish citrus was seeing tough competition from Egyptian citrus

Guatemala’s Pacaya volcano was still showing high levels of activity, with strong eruptions spewing rivers of lava and ash clouds. The national disaster coordination body said that the advancing lava has caused wildfires and resulted in the destruction of avocado plantations.

The first case of the banana fungal disease TR4 was identified in Peru. Ecuador was on high alert after the discovery in Peru, Ecuador is sandwiched between two South American nations that have a presence of the incurable banana affliction, with the fungus first reaching Colombia in 2019. 

The first Californian cherries were harvested mid-month, climate change resulting in changing micro-climates in the state over the last 10-15 years, has meant the harvest begins earlier each year.

The pandemic, the Suez Canal blockade and the sharp price hike on containers had a huge impact on the logistics sector, especially for those who work on a global scale. The chaos in the logistics sector was not boding well for the start of the South Africa citrus sector. In Europe, the overseas citrus market's start had been characterized by much uncertainty. The prevailing global logistical chaos remains the largest unpredictable factor. There was a shortage of containers in the correct place. 


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