“For example, a 138 gala apple may be a high demand in Mexico, but many of the mainstream retailers in the U.S. don’t use 138s as their preferred size,” said Sinks, who also exports to Asia, Russia and India among others.
Suzanne Wolter, marketing director at Rainier Fruit Co., Selah, Wash., said export opportunities have grown worldwide for the past couple of seasons because of a weak U.S. dollar.
“Changing worldwide currency values, along with social unrest throughout the globe, most likely will change the value equation for our apples in various export markets,” Wolter said.
Weinstein said changing values aren’t always helpful.
“Overall import demand is down this year — Asia, Europe, etc. — due to global currency issues and a stronger focus on local supplies,” he said.
“We’ve had a great demand no matter what the dollar’s done,” Horder said. “We do 30% to 35% of our apple business in export. Red delicious is still the export king.”
While the red delicious is popular overseas, newer varieties are making inroads, said David Nelley, apple and pear category director for The Oppenheimer Group, Vancouver, British Columbia.
“Pacific Rose has become the market leader in China this time of year,” he said.
“It is also interesting to see the Jazz apple fare well in parts of Asia. As a tart-sweet apple, conventional wisdom suggests that it wouldn’t suit the palate. But because it is a dense apple that stands up well in tropical weather and sweetens as it matures, it has performed surprisingly well.”
Jim Allen, president of the New York Apple Association, Fishers, said New York shippers are entering the Vietnam market this season.
“Vietnam is a new market for New York empire apples,” Allen said. “We’ve been in Singapore and Thailand in the last two years. We’ve got some reps there and targeted those countries through the USDA’s Market Access Program.
“We export maybe 7% to 8% of our volume.”