Mar 7, 2012
11:58 AMOut of the Orchard
Lurking market issues
The 2011-2012 Washington State apple season has been a warm welcome to the financial stability of our industry. Movement has been excellent and price trends are above last season, although we still have approximately 46.1% of the crop remaining to ship.
As the U.S. economy continues to stumble towards a recovery, and the politics of our great nation continue to be in disarray, the Washington apple industry remains strong and provides enthusiasm as we look ahead to our long-term success in meeting the demand of a growing world population. On the surface, all is rosy, but lying just beneath is a tangled web of international politics, ever-challenging and changing trade barriers, and an unlevel playing field that could alter the wellbeing of our industry in the matter of weeks.
These problems come in spurts, never anticipated, always looming in the distance, but real and expected. A strategically important market hints of closing its borders because of detectable residue levels above CODEX standards. The import protocol is revised in midseason, causing non-compliance issues which don’t provide for phytosanitary certification. Foreign currencies devalue, increasing import costs by 20 percent, reducing exports. All of these circumstances are valid in this season, but I’d wager most of you were unaware of any of these issues. And without the assistance of a few hard-working organizations, in concert with our government, these potential closures could put a downward spiral on prices and your financial wellbeing.
In support of our industry, my hat is off to the Northwest Horticultural Council (NHC) and Northwest Fruit Exporters (NFE) for their diligent work on behalf of all growers to maintain international market opportunity. Without organizations such as these working behind the scenes, the Washington tree fruit industries would surely suffer economic hardship.