Reds keep their shine in export sales

10/05/2010 02:23:08 PM
Tom Karst

Red delicious apples shine on in export markets.

While reds don’t get the press clippings in the U.S. like some of the state’s newer varieties in Washington state, the variety remains a key workhorse in export sales, marketers say.

While it represents only about a third of the state’s apple production, red delicious variety apples make up nearly
47% of the state’s apple exports. Nearly 15 million cartons of 2009-10 season red delicious were moved through early August.

“Exports are still largely dependent on reds,” said Rebecca Baerveldt, export marketing manager for the Washington Apple Commission, Wenatchee.

Currently, galas account for about 19% of U.S. apple exports, but exports have increased from 5.6 million in 2008-09 to 5.9 million cartons in 2009-10.

Big wheel

Exports of all varieties of apples remain an essential cog in moving what could be a record crop of Washington apples in the 2010-11 season. In a typical year, close to 30% of the state’s crop is exported.

Many marketers consider domestic demand for apples fairly static and see export channels as the best option to soak up extra supply.

Making fruit more affordable to consumers in developing markets, the expected small fruit size of the 2010 crop should be a strong selling point into the export markets in the coming season, Baerveldt said.

Using a budget of government and industry funds that total about $5 million, the commission runs apple promotions in 30 countries, she said.

“Smaller-size fruit from an economic standpoint makes our job easier,” she said.

The 2009-10 marketing season featured larger apple sizes. Considering that, the 30.7 million cartons exported from the state by early August was a positive performance, Baerveldt said.

Overall, export shipments were off just over 8% compared to a year ago, which was proportional to the smaller crop size. The 2009-10 crop was expected to pack 103 million cartons, compared to 108 million cartons in 2008-09.

Buyers in Thailand and Indonesia took larger fruit than they typically do, which Baerveldt said was positive for the total export picture.

Relative to trade barriers, the 2009-10 season was mostly trouble free for apple exports, said Jim Archer, manager of Northwest Fruit Exporters, Yakima, Wash.

In perhaps the most welcome news of the season, the government of Mexico on March 2 ended the long running 47% tariff on Washington red and golden delicious apples in response to a ruling from a North American Free Trade Agreement binational panel.

A permanent court injunction seeking to reestablish the tariff on U.S. red and golden delicious apples was granted April 8 in response to a court challenge by Mexican apple grower Grupo de Comuneros de Tenango del Valle.


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