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Pear-fect Storm: Extreme Weather Leads to Reduced Pome Fruit Crop for 2023 Harvest

Pear and apple crop estimates are set to retract to 2020 levels thanks to extreme weather events.

Heading into the 2023 harvest, the adverse flooding in the eastern states in late 2022 and two significant hail events in the Goulburn Valley are expected to impact the supply of apples and pears in the domestic market in 2023.

A major hail event on 22 December 2022 that affected orchards from Tatura to Bunbartha means APAL anticipates almost 12% fewer apples and 35% fewer pears in the national class 1 supply of pome fruit this year.

Apple and Pear Australia Limited (APAL) chief executive officer, Philip Turnbull, said that the organisation is confident there will be an ample supply of high-quality apples and pears in the Australian market this year, even though reduced volumes will see the sector back on par with the volumes of 2020.

The 2023 Apple and Pear Crop Estimate echoes this outlook, acknowledging that gross apple production is expected to be down 7.9% from 2022 to a total output of just 290,000 tonnes.

Similarly, the crop forecast predicts gross pear production will be down 16.1% at 72,000 tonnes.

APAL believes that due to the reduced amount of fruit, growers will have a more valuable proposition for the retailers, resulting in healthier prices and better returns.

Mr Turnbull said the shifts in supply will enable weightier negotiations this year, whereby growers will be in a position to have more robust conversations with the retailers around fair fruit prices.

“With a smaller crop of good quality fruit and steady consumer demand, we expect prices for apples and pears to be stronger than in 2022,” he said.

Rural Bank’s March Insights report reinforced the impact flooding would have on the current harvest.

“A slight reduction in 2023 output is forecast following flooding in late 2022,” it said.

The total production value of apples for 2021/22 was $568.6 million, according to The Australian Horticulture Statistics Handbook, with 307,630 tonnes of fruit produced. The same publication reported 121,954 tonnes of pears valued at $131.6 million was produced in that period.

Sources: APAL, Rural Bank, The Australian Horticulture Statistics Handbook

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