Export success lifts Washington apple market

09/16/2011 02:47:00 PM
Tom Karst

As of the end of July, apple exports to India were rated at 3.3 million boxes, which is 143% above last year at the same.

Baerveldt said the “truly amazing” growth in the India market has come despite a 50% duty on imported apples.

Given the growth in the last year, Baerveldt said the Indian market may have the potential for 4 million to 5 million boxes.

Mexico

Mexico has been the biggest market for Washington exporters, though it was saddled with a 20% tariff for most of the 2010 season.

Even though overall exports were up 14% to all markets, Mexico exports were off 5% from a season ago, Baerveldt said.

The retaliatory tariff was reduced to 10% earlier in the summer and some industry sources expect the final half of the tariff to be removed at the end of the year.

Asia, Middle East

Baerveldt said shipments into Hong Kong were up 30% this year, and a part of those shipments were fueling “gray market” demand in China.

Baerveldt said that the late harvest season might put a crimp in early season export shipments.

Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting, was expected to drive export demand in Indonesia through the end of August.

“That is a market we should be shipping more into if we had the fruit,” she said.

Autumn festivals in Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries are expected to drive demand in the early part of the season.

“They are trying to get what they can, and it is just a matter of trying to get that product to them,” she said.

Washington exports increased 25% to Asia in the 2010-11 season, in part filling the vacuum of a lower Chinese domestic crop.

With rising incomes in China, the price of the domestic apple crop in China rose, making the fruit less competitive in Asian export markets.

“China has pretty much always competed on lowest cost as their market position,” she said.

“When that is no longer true, it is no longer significantly less than the Washington apples and that has driven a shift to Washington apples.”

Lower imports

One part of the strength of the U.S. apple market during the 2010-11 season has been a decline in the volume of apple imports.

Pomianek said through early August, U.S. imports of apples this year were 5.7 million boxes, down from 9 million boxes at the same time a year ago.



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