ARGENTINA – The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has forecasted an increase in fresh apple and pear production by 7 and 6 percent respectively to 486,850 metric tons (MT) and 625,400 MT, due to favorable weather conditions.

This is according to their recently released Fresh Deciduous Fruit Annual report in conjunction with the Global Agriculture Information Network (GAIN).

According to the publication Apple exports are expected to increase to 81,854 MT, while pear exports are expected to increase to 317,200 MT, due to the larger production of both fruits.

Domestic consumption of fresh apples and pears is forecast to increase to 407,981 MT and 308,557 MT, respectively, in line with increased production.

However, despite the projected increases in production and exports for MY 2023/24, Argentine fresh deciduous fruit exporters continue to face significant challenges in the domestic economy that adversely affect their competitiveness.

“High inflation paired with government price and currency controls create market distortions that make long-term business planning difficult,” outlines the report.

The difficulty of importing inputs needed by the fruit industry further compounds these challenges. As a result, growers have postponed needed investments in equipment and replanting with new varietals.

While a long cycle of consolidation within the sector appears to be coming to an end, continued high costs and low profitability are likely to lead to reduced investment in the near term.

Argentine exporters are consolidating their position in Latin American markets in MY 2023/24, leveraging their proximity and ability to provide a high-quality fruit.

China’s apples, pears, and table grapes production set to increase

In another similar USDA report with China as the country focus, production of apples, pears, and table grapes in the country are expected to increase to 45 MMT, 19.6 MMT, and 13.5 MMT, respectively, in MY 2023/24.

According to the report, apple imports will likely decline by 20% due to reduced supplies and higher prices in major exporting countries.

Table grape imports will further decrease by 30%, substituted by improved production volumes and desirable domestic varieties.

Despite China’s limited import volume, pear imports will continue to increase by 20% on rising demand.

China’s fruit production faces a serious challenge of mounting production cost, especially for labor. Reports have stated that the average age of fruit farmers is more than 60 years old, reveals the report.

Labor shortages have taken place in most fruit production areas according to industry contacts. As a result, labor costs have increased quickly in recent years.

“Hourly wages in Shandong have reached RMB15 ($2.05) for a worker performing fruit bagging, harvesting, and packing,” reads the report.

In addition, the cost of agricultural inputs, such as fertilizers and pesticides, as well as transportation, has also increased from the previous year.

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