Chinese apple production still rising
More are sold fresh.
More than half the world’s apples are produced in China, a place where exact numbers are hard to find.
During U.S. Apple Association’s marketing and crop outlook conference this summer, Michael Choi, president of Zhonglu America Corporation, said apple industry leaders in China are forecasting a crop of 31.6 million metric tons, but the Chinese government’s official estimate is 34.4 million metric tons. Last year, China’s production was estimated at 33.3 million metric tons, or 1.33 billion bushels.
Production is still rising in China, Choi said, but more apples are going into fresh markets in China and fewer into apple juice concentrate, which has flooded the world for the last 15 years. Zhonglu America Corporation is a U.S. subsidiary of China’s Zhonglu Fruit Juice Company,
Choi estimated that China will produce for export about 700 million gallons of apple juice concentrate, a 27 percent decrease from last year, and part of a downward trend. Chinese exports of concentrate peaked at 1,113 million gallons in 2008 and have been sliding since. The Chinese government wanted to keep prices higher and stable, Choi said. Prices in 2008 were about $814 a metric ton for concentrate, and he predicted the price would be nearly $2,000 a ton this year.
“Processing fruit prices are higher and will stay high,” Choi said—not just in China, but also worldwide.
The massive trend toward fresh market, says Tom Hurson, senior vice president of Tree Top, Selah, Washington, has shorted the market of processing apples and sent retail prices for juice up.
Philippe Binard, secretary general of the World Apple and Pear Association in Brussels, reviewed European apple production. After a frosty spring last year, Poland is back to being the number-one producing nation in Europe, retaking its spot from Italy, which is number two again.
Production in the 27 European Union countries is forecast at 10.2 million metric tons (535 million bushels), up 5 percent from last year’s short crop but about 1 percent below average. Poland will produce 2.3 million metric tons, or 212.5 million bushels.
Across Europe, Golden Delicious is the number-one apple variety, followed by Gala.
Turkey produces more apples than Poland, and is forecast to produce 2.4 million metric tons, or 225 million bushels. Seven out of eight apples produced there are eaten there. Russia, whose crop is expected to be down to 1.9 million metric tons, has been a strong market for Poland.
Production for six countries on Europe’s perimeter is forecast at 6.1 million metric tons.
Canada is forecast to produce 21 million bushels, 4 percent more than last year, according to Donald Werden, from the Norfolk Fruit Growers Association in Simcoe, Ontario.
Ontario will contribute 8.6 million bushels, British Columbia 4.4 million, Quebec 5.8 million, Nova Scotia 2 million, and New Brunswick, 173,000. Thirty percent of Canada’s crop is McIntosh, and Gala production is in second place.
Mexico may produce 21.8 million boxes this year, up from 19.5 million last year, for a market that is estimated to consume 31.5 million boxes a year, according to Kelly Jones, chairman of Pico Largo, a marketing consulting firm in Chihuahua.
Some 37 percent of the apples Mexicans eat are imported, and 90 percent of those come from the United States. That figure held up even during the years of the Mexican trucking dispute, which imposed a heavy tariff on U.S.-imported fruit from the United States.
Mexico is considering allowing more imports from other countries, including China, he said.