Importers of South American apples and pears expect strong demand when volumes begin shipping in February and March.
Chelan Fresh Marketing Inc., Chelan, Wash., hopes to have Chilean galas available by March, said Mac Riggan, vice president of marketing.
The sooner, Riggan said, the better, given severe apple shortages in New York and Michigan.
“Gala demand here is strong,” he said. “I think a lot of apples are going to coming in this year.”
Demand for import fujis won’t be nearly as strong, Riggan said, because of a huge Washington fuji crop this season.
But demand for import granny smiths, Honeycrisps and braeburns should be robust, he said.
“I think whatever Honeycrisps are down there will make their way up here.”
On Jan. 23, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $26-28 for cartons of galas 72-88s from Washington, up from $24-26 last year at the same time.
Los Angeles-based Bengard Marketing expects to begin bringing in Chilean bartletts the first or second week of February, about 7 to 10 days later than normal, said Broc Bengard, vice president.
Despite the delay, volumes are expected to be normal and quality good, he said. The first loads of Argentine bartletts will likely arrive on the East Coast in mid-February. That deal also was slightly delayed, as growers waited for fruit to size, Bengard said.
Because of lighter apple supplies this year due to the shortages in New York and Michigan, Bengard said Chilean and Argentinian bartlett prices could start out higher than normal.
Central American demand for small-sized bartletts was sharp in January, and with the Northwest running short on small sizes, small barletts will be a premium in the import deal, Bengard said.
Bengard expects stronger demand for import boscs because of lighter volumes of domestic boscs this season.
“We hope there’s a normal transition, unlike last year,” he said.
On Jan. 23, the USDA reported prices of $22-24 for 4/5 bushel cartons of boscs 70-90s from Washington, comparable to last year at the same time.