Retail buyers and shoppers can look forward to especially sweet peaches this year, as suppliers are reporting much better fruit quality than in 2011.
Peaches from Spain and Italy - key importers to the UK - have got significantly higher sugar content than last year, with appearance and colour also much improved.
“Last year’s crop was pretty dire given the poor summer weather, so this year everyone was hoping for an improvement, which certainly seems to have come,” said one major supplier of Spanish peaches to UK retailers.
“This year’s Spanish fruit is looking really good and eating beautifully, and in our tests, fruit is achieving on average two brix higher than last year.”
Andy Weir, head of marketing at fresh produce supplier Reynolds, said fruit quality from Italy was also much better than last year, when the peach crop had a high level of defects and suffered from poor shelf life because of frost, rain and hail damage.
”supermarket and markets across key buying countries also had lower sales, so suppliers had more stored stone fruit in their cold stores, driving waste and poor quality of the product,” he added.
This year, rain early in the season - particularly in Spain - had initially raised fears about fruit quality, but these have proved unfounded, although the early bad weather means the season started late and will run later, until mid-October.
As for prices, views differ - while the Spanish peach supplier said prices and volumes were “very much on a par” with last year’s, Weir said prices were up by about 10% and volumes down by 20%.
Across the pond, strong fruit quality and appearance are also being reported in the US, which supplies smaller volumes of peaches to the UK, typically for use in premium ranges.