Those of us in the fruit industry are no strangers to the impact of adverse weather conditions, but the severe frost episodes seen across France and nearby countries earlier this month have been particularly disastrous in many of Europe’s fruit growing areas and have had a devastating effect on harvests, particularly stone fruits.
The French Minister of Agriculture, Julien Denormandie hailed the situation as the “worst agronomic disaster of the early 21st century” as the French government declared a national “Agricultural Disaster” and introduced emergency financial measures to aid those impacted. The country saw temperatures plummet to unusually low levels after a period of warm weather in February, causing devastation to vineyards but also to cherry and apricot crops, as well as table grapes and plums.
The culpable Arctic air mass spread across much of western and central Europe as shown here (Oh no, not again! Yet another widespread cold wave spreads across Europe this week, with major snow for the Alps, Balkans, and the High Tatras on Tuesday (severe-weather.eu)) – extending as far South as Greece and Bulgaria. The freezing temperatures are catastrophic at this time of year; whilst during winter, fruit trees are dormant and able to withstand very cold conditions, the situation is vastly different when the trees have already flowered and are vulnerable to frost. Hundreds of thousands of hectares are reported to have been affected, with Françoise Roch, President of the National Federation of Fruit Producers in France, stating that the cherry crop will be reduced to “almost nothing” (more here Frost: Shortage of French fruit on the shelves to be expected (freshplaza.com))
It seems it is too early to tell the full extent of the damage caused, and whether later stone fruit harvests such as peaches and nectarines will be affected. It is clear though that there will be a significant shortage of some varieties of fruit which will push prices up quite substantially. This, coupled with the global freight situation and the difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic, paints a grim picture.
In view of the above, we are urging our buyers to forecast their demands as soon as they can in order to secure fruit supply.