Apple sales strong to support season's ample supply - The Packer

Apple sales strong to support season's ample supply

01/06/2014 02:30:00 PM
Melissa Shipman

After a season during which Midwest and Eastern U.S. apple volumes plummeted and Washington production picked up the slack, this season should be more typical for the major producing states.

U.S. fresh apple holdings on Dec. 1 were 105.5 million bushels, according to the U.S. Apple Association’s most recent Market News Report, about a 3% increase from last year. Processing holdings are 15% more than last year, at a little more than 43 million bushels.

Howard Nager, vice president of marketing for Domex Superfresh Growers, Yakima, Wash., says the overall crop is shaping up to be about the same size as last year’s.

According to the U.S. Apple Association, the U.S. produced 143 million bushels of apples in the 2012-13 season; 129 million bushels came from Washington.

“Last year the Washington crop was huge, but New York and Michigan were down significantly. With Washington down this year and Michigan and New York having good volumes, the total volume is about the same,” Nager said.

He said Washington’s numbers are down to about 110 million boxes, coming up short of the initial 120 million that was estimated at the beginning of the season.

Roger Kropf, partner/manager of Core Farms LLC, Harford, Mich., said there seems to be a slight shift from last season between fresh and processed.

“The processors didn’t take as much as they might have, so more fruit went into the fresh market, which makes for a little more difficult packing season, but the fruit is moving,” he said.

Suppliers are pleased with the 2013-14 crop’s movement so far.

“We’ve experienced strong movement, which is a very nice thing,” Kropf said.

According to U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics, as of the third week of December, Michigan companies had shipped more than five times the volume as the same time last season.

The week before December 21, the state shipped 7.72 million pounds of apples, compared to the 230,000 pounds of Michigan apples shipped during the same time last year.

Don Armock, partner and president, Riveridge Produce Inc., Sparta, Mich., said the crop has handled more like a small crop, despite being large.

“We picked a record crop in terms of overall bushels, but it was relatively clean with good quality, so between storing and packing changes, we’ve handled it like a much smaller crop. There’s been great movement and good acceptance on the part of the consumers,” he said.

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