(Feb. 11, 5:50 p.m.) Apple and pear production remains strong in the U.S., and considering a recent report and forecast coming out of Europe, that’s probably an even better thing than it seems on the surface.

Representatives of key growing and exporting countries gave crop estimates Feb. 6 at the World Apple and Pear Association’s annual meeting during Fruit Logistica in Berlin. During that meeting, WAPA released crop forecasts for the upcoming Southern Hemisphere season. Representatives also discussed Northern Hemisphere markets.

Forecasts showed apple production and exports to have increased on most fronts, but exports of pears from the Southern Hemisphere were expected to be down. European pear volumes last year were down considerably.

“For the pear industry in the U.S., probably more Southern Hemisphere fruit will be targeted to Europe,” said Kevin Moffitt, president and chief executive officer of the Pear Bureau Northwest, Milwaukie, Ore., who was elected WAPA’s vice president at the meeting.

Storage updates in the U.S. as of Jan. 1 show that volumes should be able to compensate for a lag in imports from the Southern Hemisphere. The report showed U.S. apple stocks were up 22% from the previous year, while pear volumes were up only 2%. In Europe, apples were up 12%, but pear volume decreased 24% compared to the same time last year.

Exports of Southern Hemisphere pears might have difficulty making up for the European shortfall. While production is expected to see a significant increase of 9% in the region, exports of the fruit could drop almost 10% compared to 2008, largely because of a farm workers’ strike and a decrease of exports from Argentina, the leading exporter of pears in the hemisphere.

“That’s especially hurt the bartlett variety,” Moffitt said.

Southern Hemisphere apple crops were projected to increase by 4% from the 2008 crop and the forecasted export volumes are expected to increase more than 3%.

“Just more transparency in the whole export situation allows for better decision-making,” Moffitt said about the meeting.

WAPA plans to change its Web site to include members’ promotional information, Moffitt said.

“That’s the other side of the coin,” he said. “We can’t control production. We can track it. But we think we can have an effect on consumption.”

Members elected Alessandro Dalpiaz of Italy as president of the association for the next two years. He succeeds Pierre Peres of Brazil.