The USDA Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) paper forecasts a 3.5% increase in exports to 293,000 metric tons (MT), on the back of a 4.5% rise in production.
The report highlights India as a standout performer with 50% growth to 18,000MT in 2012-13, with Asia as a whole counting for a third of apple shipments. This Indian growth is assumed based on the likelihood of the country solving fumigation issues equitably, while shipments to Japan could double if pricing is satisfactory.
"This is up from 29% in the 2011/2012 year, and is accelerating a trend away from Europe and the U.K. which is likely to become more pronounced as the plantings of the last five years mature and a greater proportion of the fruit produced becomes suitable for Asian markets," the report said.
"There are market access issues to do with SPS (Sanitary and Phytosanitary) that sill restrict access to many countries in Asia which the sector participants and New Zealand Government officials are working to overcome."
The report also noted a possible increased removal of Braeburn varieties and possibly Jazz too, on marginal blocks where the cost of production cannot be reduced below the orchard returns.
The USDA said in the future this year could be looked back upon as a real turning point for apple exports and New Zealand's apple exports to Asia.