Northwest tree fruit marketers: when you’re hot, you’re hot - The Packer

Northwest tree fruit marketers: when you’re hot, you’re hot

07/23/2013 09:11:00 PM
Tom Karst

Tom KarstWashington and Oregon tree fruit growers are riding a hot streak.

Yes, it is near triple digits in apple country this week, but that’s not the kind of heat I’m talking about.

I’m up in the Northwest this week and checking with apple and pear shippers about the outlook in preparation for some editorial coverage.

While the cherry deal was choppy because of June rains, high cherry prices have helped to overcome less than expected yields.

Both apple and pear grower/shippers/marketers had a great year last year. In fact, one apple marketer told me the last five years have been good to the industry.

Can the hot streak continue? It will be more challenging this year, as a bigger national crop of apples will pose different dynamics for marketers of both apples and pears.

Yet growers note that the somewhat earlier start for the region could help apple growers put new crop fruit into the hands of supermarkets and consumers about a week earlier than normal. That will set up stiff competition for Midwest and Eastern apple marketers looking to retake shelf space.

Thirty years ago 75 million cartons of fresh apples in Washington state was considered a whopper of a crop. Now Washington apple growers have arguably had their best year ever when packing near 130 million cartons of fresh market fruit.

Yet the pressure is still on. While one marketer told me that this year’s apple crop could fall in the range between 115 million to 125 million cartons, both domestic and export markets will need to grow in future years for marketers to successfully move ever-larger crops. Stay tuned for more compelling story lines about Northwest tree fruit, both this fall and for years to come.


Congress seems to be in perpetual “dog days of summer” mode, with little hope for traction on immigration reform or the farm bill. A good summary of what remains on the “to-do” list for Congress is found in this coverage in The Washington Post.

I did see the various regulatory agencies have published their semi-annual regulatory agenda. Here is what the FDA said about their priorities relating to produce safety regulations; there are passages in this file about both the produce safety rule and the so-called preventive controls rule.

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