The annual report on Argentina Fresh Deciduous Fruit has been released by the USDA FAS. Here are some highlights from the 14-page report:

Executive Summary: For CY 2011, Post forecasts an increase in production for all three types of fresh deciduous fruit to 990,000 MT for apples 790,000 for pears and 145,000 for table grapes, due to favorable weather conditions during the growing season of CY 2010 resulting in higher yields, and new plantations entering production, especially in the case of apples and pears.

Exports are projected to increase to 230,000 MT for apples, 460,000 MT for pears, and 60,000 MT for table grapes, as a result of larger production. Domestic consumption of fresh apples and pears is estimated to increase due to larger production, and table grape consumption is expected to remain stable.

Organic fresh apple and pear production, destined for niche export markets, has been growing steadily during the past few years – despite 30-percent higher production costs compared to conventional fruit production, primarily due to the manual pruning of fruit trees (production costs for organic apples and pears have increased by over 350 percent since 2001).

Producers who have been more successful in the organic business are those who grow new non-traditional varieties, such as Cripps Pink and Braeburn apples, and Golden Bosc and Rocha pears. The recent global economic and financial crisis negatively affected the consumption of organic fruit in Argentina"s high-value fruit export markets, such as the EU and the U.S. However, in CY 2009, those markets began to resume imports of organic fruit, and this trend is expected to continue to grow gradually in the future. Varieties
Among the bicolor apples, only some Gala and Braeburn clones have succeeded in Argentina.

Others, like Fuji, Jonagold and Elstar, did not adapt well to local conditions. Among yellow apples, Golden Delicious is the classic variety. Although it adapted well to Argentina"s production conditions, this variety has lost popularity due to marketing problems. Among the red varieties, Red Delicious is the most widespread variety in Argentina. Since it is sterile, it must be crossed with other varieties such as Gala, Fuji, Elstar, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Jonathan and Ozarkgold. In Argentina, many Red Delicious clones such as Starkrimson, Red Chief, Hi Early, Top Red Delicious, Oregon Spur, or Red King Oregon and Cooper 8, have been adopted. The second most important apple variety in Argentina is Granny Smith with 15 percent of the planted area.

Two of the primary challenges of the fruit sector are to improve the quality of the fruit to meet the requirements of highly demanding export markets, and to develop new apple and pear varieties.

Trade: CY 2011 exports are projected to increase to 230,000 MT for apples, 460,000 MT for pears, and 60,000 MT for table grapes, as a result of larger production. CY 2010 apple and pear exports are forecast to decrease to 180,000 MT for apples, and 370,000 MT for pears, as a result of smaller production and fruit reorientation to the domestic market due to lower quality standards. Table grape exports are estimated to decrease to 55,000 MT, compared to USDA estimates, although they are projected to rebound from last year"s drop, due to larger production and a gradual recovery of export markets for that fruit.

CY 2009 apple and pear exports increased to 208,000 MT (apples) and 454,200 MT (pears), compared to previous estimates, as markets began to recover from the impact of the global economic crisis, which had been reducing world demand. The economy and financial situation of two of Argentina´s key export markets, Brazil and Russia, are becoming stronger and they are resuming fruit imports. Table grape exports for CY 2009 decreased as a result of lower production and the impact of the global financial crisis.

Currently, over 60 markets are open to Argentine apples and pears. Of all fresh fruit exports, pear exports were the least affected by the global economic crisis. In CY 2009, pear exports in volume accounted for over 35 percent of Argentina´s total fruit exports.

In CY 2010 Brazil continued to consolidate as the most significant fruit export market (by country), especially for pears, followed by Russia. This is primarily due to the relatively high value of the real, compared to the dollar. Brazil is more flexible than other markets such as the EU and the U.S. regarding the quality of the fruit they import.

That is one of the reasons why, in CY 2009, Brazil was the major export market (by country) for both Argentine apples and pears, followed by Russia. Algeria was the third export market for Argentine apples in CY 2009, almost doubling imports compared to CY 2008. The main export destination for table grapes was the EU totaling 26,000 MT. Over 95 percent of AJC was exported to the U.S. in CY 2009. Table grape exports in CY 2011 are expected to continue to focus on traditional markets, i.e. the EU, Russia, and Brazil, while local exporters are working on developing other non-traditional Latin American markets.

During the period January-July 2010, Russia became the first export market, in volume, for Argentine apples, and Brazil remained the major export market for pears. For table grapes, Brazil became the largest export
market, followed by Russia. In addition, the U.S. continues to be the largest market for Argentine AJC, accounting for approximately 95 percent of total exports.

According to the Global Trade Atlas database, during January-July 2010, Argentina imported 819 MT of apples for a total value of $603,871 60 MT of pears for a total of $53,464 437 MT of table grapes valued at $591,743 and 483 MT of AJC valued at $480,728. In CY 2009, there were virtually no fresh deciduous fruit imports into Argentina. Prices