A transition to newer, more appealing apple varieties is helping Washington growers to sell larger crops at strong prices and giving marketers reason for optimism, even as apple production increases.
“We’re on the cusp of seeing an increase in per capita consumption of apples,” Todd Fryhover, president of the Washington Apple Commission, told the Good Fruit Grower.
“We have a taste and texture for everybody, and better quality. These new apples are firm and taste good, and orchard and warehouse practices have improved dramatically in the last ten years.”
Washington State produced a record fresh apple crop of 129 million boxes in 2012. That was 20 million boxes more than the industry had ever sold before. About 15 million boxes of that additional volume went to the domestic market, which normally takes about 70 million boxes of Washington apples, and 5 million went to export markets.
Because of light production in the East and Midwest, Washington was able to sell the record crop at record prices.
Of the 15 million boxes that moved to the domestic market, two-thirds were varieties other than Washington’s flagship Red Delicious, Fryhover points out. There were more Gala, Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, Cripps Pink, Fuji, and club varieties. F.o.b. prices were high because U.S. retailers sold more fruit and made more money on them than they ever have before, he said.
“The numbers aren’t the complete story,” Fryhover said. “There’s something else going on out in the marketplace, and I think it’s just getting better fruit into the hands of U.S. consumers.”