Prices rise as fruits remain in short supply

Pineapple supplies remain seriously short for importers who can see no end to the upward spiral of prices. Thailand is well behind on shipments and hopes that South Africa and Swaziland would ease the situation have been proved wrong. "Drought conditions across the African continent are likely to reduce fruit availability by 40%," said an importer, who declined to estimate new prices. Swaziland has reported its hottest temperatures on record just as the second crop was being harvested.

The apple shortage in Hungary and Poland has been well publicised in respect of the UK juice industry, but its impact on supplies of canned apples for manufacturers is still unknown. Major suppliers in Italy are indicating a 50% price rise on last year in spite of a good domestic crop.

"Farmers are able to sell unselected fruit in Poland for juicing at very high prices," a source in the South Tyrol region said. The shortage may force UK importers to switch some of their business back to China, even though they have suffered service problems there in the past.

High pineapple prices, a shortage of pears and limited peach supplies will result in higher Italian fruit cocktail prices. Packing doesn't commence for a few weeks, but canners are pushing for a 30% price rise compared with last year. "The whole fruit catalogue is in trouble at a time when retailers are pressing for more promotional funding to arrest a year-on-year volume decline," said a buyer. Retail and catering sizes will be affected.

Price stability expected for salmon

New season red and pink salmon prices should be set any day as discussions are at an advanced stage between UK importers and representatives of Alaskan producers in Seattle. Early indications suggest that sterling costs will be unaffected, as higher dollar free-on-board prices should be compensated by the weaker dollar.

Although the total red catch was up on last year, most of the increase went into 418g cans. The pre-season forecast was 41 million fish, but final figures show 46.2 million. Fishermen struck a hard bargain based on fuel cost increases, so processors ended up paying 5.7% more in spite of the record catch.

The total Alaskan pink catch has reached 115 million fish - up from 63 million last year - so there is relief for packers who feared a repeat of 2006 and possible financial ruin. Unusually, reds and pinks had periods when catches were hitting records for a single day's fishing. Canners had to use 418g cans to get fish through the lines quickly enough to avoid spoilage.