U.S.: Variety mix, quality boost domestic movement for Washington apples

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U.S.: Variety mix, quality boost domestic movement for Washington apples

The Washington apple industry has enjoyed good movement in the domestic U.S. market over recent months, with the state marketing its second-largest crop in history.  

Washington Apple Commission president Todd Fryhover largely attributed the improved movement compared to last season to rising volumes of new varieties and high fruit quality.

"We're having increased sales domestically," he told Fresh Fruit Portal.

"We’ve had several weeks in a row of over 3 million cartons shipped per week. The 3 million number is a very good indicator that we’re meeting our numbers as far being out in time for the next crop, so that looks real positive."

"I think there’s a lot of reason why. The first is we have more new and better varieties."

Fryhover said the new proprietary varieties coming on steam were all firm and had a broad range of tastes, which was helping to build per-capita demand. He highlighted Honeycrisp as a variety domestic consumers were "really enthused" about.

"And I think just in principle we had a pretty high quality crop here in Washington," he said.

"We didn’t have the heat that we had the previous two years, so we’ve got better quality fruit coming out of storage right now and that always helps in building demand."

On the export side - which typically accounts for around 30% of production - he said there had been "a few issues" with the high value of the U.S. dollar. However, he pointed out it was hard to make year-on-year comparisons due to the varying crop sizes.

"We’re actually up 19% on exports. So that’s pretty significant, but last year was 115 million cartons and this year was 134 million," he said, adding in general export movement had been "adequate" so far.

"We expect the balance of the season to slow down, which it typically does. It seems to focus more on Red Delicious from here on out especially for offshore markets."

As of mid-March, Mexico was the state's leading export market, followed by Canada, Taiwan, India and China.

He pointed out the availability and quality of the Gala and Red Delicious crop played a key role in determining where the Taiwanese and Indian markets would be, respectively.

Possible return to normal sizing next season

With around 60% of the crop sold so far, Washington apple inventories in the domestic market are in line with previous years. Fryhover noted Red Delicious and Galas were a little bit behind compared to last season.

"But the Red Delicious deal will continue on the export side, so I don’t see a lot of concern there," he said.

"Galas domestically will probably need to wrap up a few more shipments, so that is something the industry will probably focus on in the next couple of months."

Overall, Fryhover said the season had been progressing well and everything seemed to be shaping up positively for the following campaign.

"We could do thing a little bit better in some cases. Sometimes it’s more about the world economics than it is about anything else, but we’re moving through the season," he said.

"Our spring has been fantastic, we’re probably subject to more normal weather - that will give us a couple more weeks to sell our current crop, so that’s a real benefit. And we look forward to maybe a return to more normal sizing for this next season.

"So we’re very optimistic about the conclusion of this season and we’re looking forward to next season."

Photo: www.shutterstock.com



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