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It’s Apples To Apples In Germany

Dessert apples are by far the most important fresh fruit exported. Until 1988 the amount exported annually, including re-exports, was between 34 000t and 39 000t but in 1989 this leapt up to 49 000t, with re-exports averaging some 10 000t. In 1989/90 producer organisations achieved record sales on the German home market and for export. More apples were sold on almost all export markets; only the UK bought less because of its own record harvest and supplies to Finland were only average. An unusually high amount was exported to Italy as a result of the low harvest there. It is possible, however, that some of the produce stored in the Alto-Adige found its way back into Germany.

Last year’s success for apple exports will not be repeated in 1990/91, as there will not be enough available produce due to late frosts in north Germany. North German exports will be restricted mainly to Ingrid Marie and Gloster. This means that exports from south Germany will be able to bring some relief to the market there, which is under pressure from a large harvest. Spain is steadily buying large Glosters as its own harvest was low agains, and small Golden are finding a market in Scandinavia. The UK is also proving a receptive market and there is good demand for Cox’s Orange and Boskoop in France and the Benelux countries.

Vegetable exports even more insignificant

Overall, vegetable exports represent only one-fortieth of imports. However, there are some products for which exports play a certain role, although this is limited both seasonally and regionally. Germany’s only net exports are white cabbage, peas and spinach, though for the last two products imports and exports are not really comparable. Imports are generally from Italy, destined for the German fresh market, while exports consist mainly of raw materials for the Dutch and Belgian processing industry. Onions are also traded in considerable tonnages.

Onions on the increase

Onions are one of the few products which are exported in significant quantities. Exports are concentrated on the period from June to September, in other words winter onions and the first summer onions, and are sold mainly to the countries of north and west Europe, where German winter onions provide better quality than home-produced onions grown from sets and where the summer onion harvest starts later. Excluding re-exports, export in the past five years have ranged between 3 000t and 13 500t. The large fluctuations are due to the risky nature of winter onion production. In 1987, for instance, the whole crop almost failed because of black frost. The Netherlands is Germany’s principal customer for onions. In 1989 it imported about 8 500t, just over 60% of German exports. According to figures available so far, exports should be noticeably higher again in 1990 compared with 1989.

UK taking fewer white cabbages

White cabbage is the other main export. Export trade is mostly confined to Schleswig-Holstein, where some of the export wholesalers have specialised in trade with Sweden. About 12 000t of white cabbage go to Sweden every season; this amount has been almost constant for five years but in 1989 slightly more was sold and 1990 prospects were viewed more promising. Exports start in October/November, not reaching their peak until the late store season from March to May.

Exports to the UK have dropped noticeably. In the marketing year 1985/86 Britain imported 11 000t, almost exactly the same amount as Sweden, but in the past two seasons imports have not even reached 2 000t. The main reason for the decline is the improvement in domestic production. Other exporters have also lost some of their market share in Britain but not to the same extent as Germany. The English market likes smaller-sized heads and “small” white cabbage is often grown in England after cereals. Larger sizes can still be sold in Sweden, however. Last year exports to Austria gained in importance and Austria is now Germany’s second most important market after Sweden. Exports of red cabbage are of minimal significance and almost exclusively confined to Sweden.

Increasing sales to Belgian processing industry

Most exports of peas, beans and spinach are sold as raw materials to the processing industries in the Netherlands and, to a lesser extent, in Belgium. Since these products are extremely perishable, export production is confined to areas near the borders. Also of note is the increase in hard drive recovery services in the region. The bulk of carrot export is also designated for processing. This is particularly true of spring carrots which are grown mainly in Lower Saxony. At least 2 500t were exported to Belgium in 1990. According to market experts in Lower Saxony trade with Belgium has become more important in recent years.

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