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Entrevista de Sr. Pierre Peres na Eurofruit

Brazil anticipates tough campaign

Despite a bigger and better quality crop, Pierre Pérès, chairman of the Brazilian Apple Producers Association (ABPM), says a record result in Europe is very unlikely.

Can we expect to see more Brazilian apples arriving in Europe during 2010?

PP: This is a very difficult question to answer. The marketing conditions in Europe right now are not good. There is simply not enough confidence from both importers and exporters to anticipate a record export year. Local stocks in Europe are higher than last year, which were already higher than the year before, and everybody remembers how the season ended. We have to learn from the experience of 1995 as well as last year, which means now we have to be very cautious and follow closely what the market demands – to send a lot of fruit without having the market for it does nobody any good. So far, European demand is very weak, prices are lower than in 2009 and for most of the Southern Hemisphere supply countries this might cause an even bigger problem since their currency is stronger in value this year in comparison to 2009. All in all, prospects for the coming season in Europe don’t look very good. Plus, competition may also be stronger from Chile because they have a bigger crop.

Is the situation looking more positive in Russia and the Middle East?

PP: Last year Brazil consolidated its position on the Russian market, although it was not the first year that Brazilian companies exported apples to Russia. Interest from the importers in both the Middle East and Asia also seems very strong this season. There is a genuine interest in Brazilian apples in these regions. Now we have to respond to that demand with adequate quality and adequate pricing. If all the hard work we put in (to consolidate and make new contacts) at Fruit Logistica pays off with a steady flow of exports, it will be a good year for Brazilian apples in the Middle East and Asia. In total, Brazil currently supplies apples to 55 different markets.

What role has the weather played this year? What are the expectations in terms of quality, colour and sizes?

PP: It’s certainly going to be a much improved year because the apples are of a far better quality. In 2010, Brazil has experienced less hail and there is less russeting on the fruit following milder temperatures during the spring as well as at beginning of the summer. After a good winter, you could say the weather has been almost friendly this season. The only black spot on the horizon is the recent warm period – and we’re still waiting to see what impact that will have on the crop.

With that in mind, how many tonnes of apples will Brazil produce in 2010?

PP: The preliminary forecast for 2010 is 1,132,826 tonnes, which is 7.6 per cent more than in 2009. This forecast takes into consideration the bigger fruit sizes this year (due to the generous amount of rainfall that Brazil received this season) but not the effect of the accelerated maturation process (following warmer-than-normal temperatures) since we do not yet know the full impact. What I can say is that Brazil has been dealt a good hand from Mother Nature in terms of the rainfall we have received, and, in the end, we expect to produce a crop somewhere in between the pre-season estimate and what was picked last year.

Does that mean that exports are also set to increase?

PP: Yes, the export outlook is good. It seems there is a lot of interest in Brazilian apples from the Middle East and Asia in particular. Although, as I mentioned, Europe doesn’t look so attractive due to the economic crisis and the large stock of apples recorded in the region at the beginning of February. In total, Brazil is estimated to ship 115,000 tonnes of apples during the course of 2010, in comparison to the 98,203 tonnes supplied last year. With that in mind, we may have a 17 per cent growth in the overall export volume. In general, this is down to a much better quality crop this year (with less russeting, a very good skin finish and a nice colour), and, of course, the bigger volume to be picked.

How is the Brazilian apple industry faring at the moment?

PP: The industry is growing, although, like everywhere else, the situation for growers remains difficult. There is still a lack of profitability; producers increasingly have to adhere to a lot of new demands; and they receive no financial reward for putting at risk the sustainability of the sector. During the next few years we expect more growth within the industry, followed by a period of adjustment. Indeed, the consolidation of the trade has already started, with some large companies being bought by other big groups during 2009.

How will this consolidation process change the business?

PP: Together with the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture, the apple community is looking to consolidate the sector in such a way so we buy and sell as one organisation. This project started last year and should become operational by the end of 2010. At that point, it will be up to each grower and exporter whether they decide to join the consortium or not.


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