Michael Choi, Zhonglu America Corp., said Aug. 23 that a spring freeze sharply cut Chinese apple crop prospects for 2018. ( The Packer )

CHICAGO - While Europe’s apple crop is up big in 2018, the threat of heavy U.S. tariffs and sharply reduced production are dark clouds over the Chinese apple industry.

Global apple leaders spoke Aug. 23 at the U.S. Apple Association’s Outlook Conference in Chicago about crop prospects and the big decline in China attracted notice.

Michael Choi, Zhonglu America Corp., spoke Aug. 23 on the outlook for the Chinese apple crop.

Based on his travels to growing areas within China, Choi said the biggest freeze damage in 40 years devastated production in parts of western China this year.

The April cold hurt some regions with 30% to 90% damage in that region. Other parts of China saw below-par production.

The freeze damage will cut fresh market and processed market apple availability this year and cause prices to go up.

 The overall Chinese apple crop — the biggest in the world even with reduced prospects — is projected at close to 32 million metric tons, he said, down 28% from the 44.5 million metric ton crop of 2017 and 24% below the five year average.

Chinese apple and pear juice concentrates also are being targeted as part of President Trump’s 10% to 25% tariffs on $200 billion worth of imports from China. A decision on those tariffs could be made in September, he said.


Uptick in Europe

In Europe, Phillipe Binard, with the World Apple and Pear Association, said many countries will see double-digit gains in apple output after last year’s short crop.

Overall European production is forecast at 12.61 million metric tons, up 36% from 9.25 million metric tons a year ago.

Binard said uncertainties about trade with the United Kingdom after their exit from the European Union in March next year loom large, in addition to other trade factors including the Russia trade embargo and U.S. trade policy and the short China crop.