South American country's organic fruit exports struggle

by Sustainable Food News 

December 4, 2017 

Despite inflation rates as high as 23 percent coupled with increasing production costs in Argentina, the United States remains a "reliable and stable market" for the South American country's organic apples and pears, which are being increasingly utilized for the manufacturing of organic juices and specialty food products such as cereal bars.

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That's according to a new report from the USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), which said 65 percent of the total organic harvested area for apples and pears occurs in the country's Upper Valley region, which includes the Rio Negro and Neuquen provinces.

The report said more than 100,000 acres are certified as organic in the Upper Valley. In 2016, the area devoted to organic production increased by 52 percent in Rio Negro province and 16 percent in Neuquen province, compared to the previous year.

The report cited "private sources" that estimate about 10 percent of the total production of fresh apples and pears in the Upper Valley is certified as organic, and about 15 percent is exported as organic.

In 2016, organic apple production destined for export markets increased by 2 percent, and organic pear production destined for export decreased by 11 percent.

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During the year, organic apple exports totaled 18,000 metric tons and organic pear exports totaled 27,000 mt. The main export market for the fruit is the United States, the report said.

"Organic production and exports are expected to grow in the next few years fostered by prices paid for organic fruit, which can be 40-50 percent higher than for conventional fruit," the report said. "Higher organic production costs are primarily due to the manual pruning of fruit, biological weed control, and certification fees."

More successful organic apple producers are those who grow varieties such as Cripps Pink (Pink Lady), Granny Smith, and Gala. For organic pears, all varieties are demanded by export markets, the report said.


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