U.S.: Washington apple company sees 'one of greatest starts' for export demand - FreshFruitPortal.com

U.S.: Washington apple company sees 'one of greatest starts' for export demand

CMI Orchards, one of Washington state's largest apple companies, has enjoyed a historically strong start for volumes and demand into export markets.

Brand manager Rochelle Bohm told FreshFruitPortal.com that it's currently in a moment with a "steady pace" after recently completing harvest.

Demand for its Washington apples - which include Kanzi, Jazz, and Pink Lady - has been up and the industry is not lacking volumes.

"Demand is high for high flavor specialty apples and organics," said Bohm.

So, CMI Orchards feels well-positioned as it has "carved out a niche market". Specifically, 30% of its total apple production is organic and 18% is specialty.

While it's good news for orchards that their apples are so sought after, the industry has been running into issues with containers. Challenges related to container shortages have impacted CMI Orchard's ability to quickly send exports.

Warehouse inventories are high with lots of apples in storage as a result. Supplies are backing up because steamship lines cannot meet the needs of apple quantities.

"The challenge has been two-fold, with significant market demand and volume limited by an inability to move product fast enough due to a lack of shipping containers. We are tackling this problem day by day," added Bohm.

Meanwhile, as the company waits for more consistent steamship lines, it says its harvest is of good quality.

"In terms of opportunities, our sizing, quality and the arrival condition of our fruit has been excellent this season," she said.

To achieve a year-round supply, the company works with partners in the Southern Hemisphere - New Zealand, Chile and Argentina.

Market conditions, pricing and harvest

During harvest, Washington State experienced frost events that impacted an unknown amount of Pink Lady apples.

As far as pricing, it sets its hopes high for the holiday season.

"Harvest is complete and we are getting into a consistent pace with steady movement. We’re optimistic that movement and pricing will continue to climb," Bohm explained.

Photo: CMI Orchards