Expert: Croatia’s 2022 apple yield 12 pct down from 2021

NEWS 10.08.2022 11:04
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Source: Pixabay

This year's apple yield is estimated at some 57,000 tonnes, which is a decrease of 12% compared to 2021, caused by a decrease in areas under orchards and natural disasters, primarily drought, Branimir Markota of the Croatian Fruit Association (HVZ) has said.

“As regards apple production in Croatia, the situation is generally worrying,” Markota told state news agency Hina, noting that the area under apple orchards had almost been halved in recent years, to about 3,000 hectares of commercial orchards.

Fruit growers have been witnessing damage caused by frost, hail and drought and investments are required in orchard infrastructure to protect production at least to some extent, he said.

Due to high costs of infrastructure investments, only a smaller number of fruit growers make such investments, which results in apple orchards being abandoned or removed, Markota said.

The large difference between production costs and sales prices is due to fruit growers not having a united market approach, unfair competition from retailers who declare imported, cheaper apples as Croatian apples, the lack of interest among young people in apple growing, and so on, he said.

Markota also pointed to a 40% increase in fuel prices, a 70% increase in prices of fertilisers, a 35% increase in prices of products for fruit protection and a 25% in the cost of labor.

Fruit growers are particularly worried by growing storage and packing costs.

Electricity costs have increased by up to 300% so far, packing costs by 50%, and transport costs by around 25%. Prices of other production materials have increased between 20 and 60%.

All of this indicates that apple prices will be at least 30-35% higher than in previous years, while storage and packing prices will be even higher, by 40-50%.

The HVZ and leading apple buyers have therefore agreed on a farm-gate price of a minimum 4 kuna per kilogram of first-class apples, as that is the minimum price that covers production costs and enables apple growers to continue with production, Markota said.

The HRK 4 farm-gate price means that apples will be sold in shops at prices ranging from 8 to 12 kuna per kilogram, which is an increase of some 25% or roughly 1.5 kuna, which is less than in the rest of Europe, he said.

He added that by the end of this season leading Croatian apple growers would launch the “Proven Quality” certificate, to be used by retailers to guarantee traceability.

According to estimates by the World Apple and Pear Association (WAPA), the average cost of apple production, storage and logistics up to the store is around €0.90 per kilogram and WAPA experts believe the average sales price, which would promote apple consumption, should be around €2 per kilogram, Markota said.

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