Germany: “Weaker fruit set for the medium-early cherry varieties”

Germany: “Weaker fruit set for the medium-early cherry varieties”

Spring frosts and bad weather had reduced the cherry supply in many European growing regions. According to initial estimates, a smaller harvest than last year is also expected in Germany, says Florian Hornstein, Head of Sales at BayWa Obst GmbH & Co. KG.

“As a marketing partner of family farms in the Lake Constance and Neckar regions, our product range at BayWa Obst GmbH includes pome fruit as well as berries and stone fruit. In the case of cherries, however, we currently only source fruit from the cultivation area around Lake Constance. Three years ago, we therefore concentrated the handling of berries and stone fruit at our wholesale fruit market in Ailingen and invested in new technology. Since then, we have been able to sort cherries there in order to meet our customers’ requirements even better. Thanks to the versatile packaging technology, we can offer a wide range of packaging solutions, from 300-g trays to 2-kg baskets,” told Florian Hornstein, Head of Sales at BayWa Obst GmbH & Co. KG.

Trend towards protected cultivation
The area under sweet cherry cultivation in Baden-Württemberg has changed very little in recent years. “Due to the weather, the trend is increasingly towards protected cultivation. Cherries need a ‘dry head’, as I like to say. Due to the increasing weather extremes, rain canopies help to secure yields and qualities. Last year we had to experience how quickly heavy rain can lead to considerable losses in ripe cherries. Investments in appropriate protection systems are almost essential for quality production nowadays.”

When it comes to cherries, BayWa focuses almost exclusively on sweet cherries for the fresh market, Hornstein said. “Sour cherries play virtually no role in our sector any more – other European regions lead the way here. The organic segment, however, is of major importance at BayWa Obst and has also grown significantly in the berry and stone fruit assortment in recent years. In our main product, pome fruit, one in four apples is now produced according to organic standards. In the case of cherries, the share is even around 30 percent. In general, however, it has to be said that cherry cultivation – whether organic or integrated – is becoming more challenging. Keyword: cherry vinegar fly.”

This, he says, is associated with a higher investment requirement for the full implementation of plants in fruit growing in order to be able to reliably produce good qualities. In addition, there are rain roofs and irrigation, an increasing minimum wage, etc. “Regionality plays an important role in summer fruit in this country, but other European growing regions can produce more cheaply, which can lead to more difficult market conditions for German produce in some seasons – such as last year.”

Disappointing cherry season 2022
“As with all other products, pricing options depend on supply and demand,” Hornstein points out. “Last year in particular, we saw how consumers’ reluctance to buy due to rising energy costs and inflation can have an impact on retailers’ supply arrangements. In the case of berries as well as sweet cherries, cheap imported goods were represented on the shelves for large parts of the season, which led to more difficult conditions for domestic goods and thus for our producers. Therefore, last year’s cherry season was disappointing for many farms.”

Smaller harvest expected than last year
Spring frosts and bad weather had reduced the cherry supply in many European growing regions. According to initial estimates, a smaller harvest than last year is also expected in Germany, says the sales manager. “In Baden-Württemberg in particular, late frosts have led to a lower harvest expectation. Unlike in spring 2021, when we had very good weather conditions during the cherry blossom, this year we see a significantly weaker fruit set, especially for the medium-early varieties. Especially affected is ‘Kordia’, which shows the biggest deficits of all varieties. In general, the qualities are top this year, German consumers can really look forward to that, because our focus is on marketing summer fruit on the domestic market.”

Due to the lower harvest volume expected across Europe, the market environment is more attractive than in the previous year. This is also reflected in the price, which is currently above the level of 2022. “Regionality plays an important role in marketing, but we are still in a market where demand cannot be met by domestic production. Cherry imports have ranged between 50 and 70 per cent in recent years, depending on our own supply situation. This means that at certain times there are also goods from other countries of origin that can produce more cheaply. It is therefore also up to the consumer to decide which product he prefers.

“The types of packaging vary from customer to customer. That’s why we have a wide range of products, from loose goods in crates to various small packages. With our versatile packaging line, we can fill trays from 300 to 1000 g on the one hand, which then either run directly to the flowpack machine or are also packed openly in crates. On the other hand, the line is equipped with a basket filler. Here, baskets with 800g, 1.5 and 2.0 kg can be placed. There are also two outlets available for packing carrybags.”

“To ensure that our farmers can serve the German market with domestic produce, securing yields and quality production are top priorities. Of course, water is elementary in this. In times of climate change, this issue is coming more and more into focus. If there is too little water available, productivity and fruit quality decline. A severe lack of water can even weaken the plants and make them more susceptible to diseases and pests. Other parameters, such as temperature or fruit set, also have an additional influence on production success,” says Hornstein.

“That is why our farmers support their crops with demand-oriented, technology-supported irrigation. The so-called drip irrigation is widely used. Here, hoses laid in the orchard deliver water to the soil drop by drop and thus efficiently and in a resource-saving manner. The water for this comes, for example, from rainwater retention basins or wells. Water is and will remain a central issue in food production – both nationally and internationally. Here, the sector needs further, future-oriented solutions. In particular, the establishment of possibilities for water storage during wet periods is likely to become even more important in the future.”

Further information:

Florian Hornstein
BayWa Obst GmbH & Co. KG
Raiffeisenstr. 24
88079 Kressbronn am Bodensee
Tel.: +49 (0) 7543-9616-0

Source: Fresh Plaza


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