If the 2016-2017 apple export season was decent — and it was — this season should be great.
That’s what industry officials predict.
The 2017-2018 season should put American — especially Washington — apples at a competitive advantage in the global marketplace, due to weather and political issues abroad, said Todd Fryhover, president of the Washington Apple Commission.
Production in Europe was down 21 percent due to spring frost during bloom, according to August forecasts by the World Apple and Pear Association, while American production was higher than usual, mostly due to a large Washington crop.
Meanwhile, political squabbles between China and India have left Chinese apples out of Indian stores, Fryhover said.
“We’re just seeing tremendous opportunity in India,” he said.
China and Europe are America’s two biggest Northern Hemisphere competitors, though Canada and Mexico both have crops smaller than last year’s, said Mark Seetin, director of regulatory and industry affairs for the US Apple Association.
US growers made a huge haul, on the other hand. US packing companies had 131.1 million 42-pound bushels for the fresh market as of Dec. 1, according to the US Apple Association’s storage report released this week. That’s a 9-percent increase over last year and 16 percent more than the five-year average. Washington packers accounted for 116 million, or 88 percent, of those bushels.
All that could add up for a good export season, Seetin said. “In general terms, I think there is real cause for optimism.”
And that would come on the heels of a decent 2016-2017 export season.
Overall, the US apple industry exported about 25 percent of its 2016 crop, down just a hair from the average of 27 percent, Seetin said. Washington shippers exported nearly 40 million boxes of apples, almost 30 percent of the total 134 million box volume.