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Belgium expects 68% less apples

Staff Writer | August 16, 2017
The sector in Belgium is expecting to harvest 68% less apples and 7% less pears this season.
Beligum apples
Europe   The harvest is estimated at 74 million kg
The harvest is estimated at 74 million kg, or 68% less than the apple harvest last year (which wasn't a good fruit year due to the extremely wet month of June).

That is 73% less than the multiple year average. The pear harvest is estimated at around 301 million kg or 7% less than last year or 15% less than the multiple year average.

These low figures are due to the frost damage in April and the less favourable weather conditions in the spring.

The Belgian pear area rose to 10,023 ha last year. Belgium remains a tone setting "pear country," with 14% of the European production. Certainly as far as the top variety Conférence is concerned, the Belgian fruit sector is undoubtedly the number one in Europe.

Around 85% of the European pear production takes place in just five countries (Italy, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands and Portugal).

The European pear harvest is estimated at 2.1 million tonnes, a decrease of 1% compared to last year.

For apples in particular the commercial season is hard to estimate. The Belgian sector expects larger apples, as there are less apples on the trees. There are no doubts about quality, the sugar level is good, which means the apples will be very tasty.

In pears we see the same phenomenon: a good sugar level and excellent flavour. Compared to other year, the Belgian pears will be slightly smaller. The sector is hoping for a good price formation for the producer.

This is necessary for the continued survival of our companies. Besides the dramatic frost damage this season and the storm damage last year, the Russian embargo remains a heavy burden on our companies, lasting for 3 years now.

This embargo was recently extended to the end of 2018. Despite the difficult situation in the sector there will have to be further investment in modernisation of our fruit companies (new varieties, harvest protection, diversification...) and new sales markets will have to be sought, especially for our pears.

The support of the Belgian wholesale and the consumer in their conscious choice of Belgian apples and pears is also crucial.

The harvest estimates for Belgium are made by the Flemish government, department of Agriculture and Fisheries, in collaboration with Boerenbond, the Verbond van Belgische Tuinbouwcoöperaties (VBT) and the auctions. 250 fruit cultivation companies were asked, divided over all Belgian provinces.