France - Small harvest and difficult sales in 2021

03.12.2021 241 views

According to the French agricultural statistics service Agreste, “On November 1st 2021, the estimated areas planted with melons in 2021 correspond to 12,100 ha, which is 1% more than last year and 6% less than the 2016-2020 average. The production is estimated at 228,500 tons, which is 9% less than last year and 10% less than the 5-year average. In July, melon sales were complicated, experiencing a short-term crisis as the humid weather did not encourage the demand. The decline in production made sales more fluid in August and September, also due to the more favorable weather. The prices in September were 11% higher than in September 2020, and 13% higher than the average of the past 5 years, but insufficient to compensate for the poor sales early in the summer.”

French harvests severely impacted by the weather in the southwestern and center-west basins
With 12,110 ha, the surface areas planted with melons have increased by 1% since last year, but they are down by 6% compared to the 2016-2020 average. The 2021 melon harvests reached 228,508 tons, which is 9% less than in 2020 and 10% less than the 2016-2020 average. The southwestern and center-west basins were affected the most by the drop in yields and production.

The frost in April caused some damage on the first plantations. In May, the temperatures remained cold, which slowed down the vegetative development in most producing basins. The weather in June varied greatly throughout France; the temperatures were favorable for the plants but the storms caused some damage in several basins. The first harvests were not very productive in the southeast and the rainy summer weakened the plants and the fruit in the center-west region of France. The quality of the melons was not always great and the calibers remained small. In the southwest, many diseases disrupted the crops (mildew and other cryptogamic diseases). Some plots remained unharvested at the end of the campaign due to the low volumes and small calibers, caused by the lack of sun and warmth.

Difficult sales in July
At the beginning of the 2021 campaign, the unfavorable weather delayed the harvests and the marketing campaign really started in July. The competition from Spain was already strong in June before the arrival of the French products. The melon entered a situational crisis on June 28th, until July 19th. During this period, the demand was low because of the cooler temperatures for the season. Price concessions were made in order to sell the stocks. In August, prices went up as the production declined and the weather was not favorable for consumption. In September 2021, prices were 11% higher than in September 2020 and 13% higher than the average of the past 5 years. 

From January to September 2021, imports (153,200 tons) increased by 3% in a year and exports (32,400 tons) increased by 1% in a year. The deficit resulting from this trade (120,800 tons) increased by 4% over one year.

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