Brussels, 11 August 2014
Exceptional measures to assist peach and nectarine producers
The European Commission is moving today to introduce support measures for the EU peach & nectarine sectors, notably by increasing the volumes of fruit eligible for withdrawal operations and free distribution. These markets have been hard hit by unfavourable weather conditions, with additional pressure now resulting from the import ban introduced by Russia.
Commenting on the move, EU Agriculture & Rural Development Commissioner Dacian Cioloș stated: “Following the recent decline in prices on the peach and nectarine markets, urgent action is needed to prop up the market and I intend to act immediately. I will be proposing today that the European Commission take immediate, retroactive measures aimed at reducing supply and promoting demand. I have been very clear that I would not hesitate to act and use the new, modernised CAP to provide timely, proportionate and market oriented assistance – this first measure today is a signal of intent. We are monitoring markets closely and I will not hesitate to do likewise to assist other sectors dependent on exports to Russia, should it be necessary.”
The measures proposed are to increase from 5% to 10% the production of Producer Organisations (POs) that may be withdrawn for free distribution. Secondly, exceptional support measures will also be made available to non-members of POs (paid at 50% of the PO withdrawal price). In this way, the measures will also be available to individual growers, provided the necessary controls are in place. Finally, extra funds will be provided for promotion, under the promotion actions in Producer Organisation operational programmes (under the usual co-financing arrangements). The formal decision will be taken in the coming weeks, but it will apply retro-actively as from today. This was a step already under discussion last week, but the announcement of import restrictions by Russia risks to further aggravate the market situation and has accelerated the need for action.
The main EU producers of peaches (EU annual production = 2.4 - 2.5 million tonnes) and nectarines (1.1 - 1.2mt) are Italy, Spain, France and Greece. Although there is always a seasonal variability on the market due to weather conditions, this year has seen a particularly negative impact on the market. Weather conditions in Spring/early Summer saw both an increase in production, and also an advance in maturity such that there was a much more intense availability of products at the start of the season than usual – rather than a more even spread of supply over several weeks. Thereafter, the cooler and more humid condition in June and July slowed down consumption.