In just over a week, families across the U.S. will be sitting down for a Thanksgiving meal that features turkey, mashed potatoes and a variety of other American staples. I know my family will be enjoying an apple pie made by my father, so I felt inspired to take a look into the current situation in the apple industry.
At the end of August, I took a quick look at projected apple numbers around the globe. In August, the U.S. Apple Association projected a 248.3 million 42-lb. carton crop for the 2017-2018 harvest season. The numbers represented an 8% drop from the year-ago period, but in the early going, holdings are up.
The association noted that for the fresh market, a total of 143.3 million cartons were held in storage as of Nov. 1, up 6% from a year ago and 15% more than the five-year average. Washington state made up about 88% of the total fresh supply, with about 125.6 million bushels. New York and Michigan accounted for about 5% and 4% of the total with about 6.9 million and 5.4 million bushels, respectively.
Broken down by variety:
- Red delicious inventories totaled about about 39.7 million bushels up 2% from two years ago.
- Gala inventories totaled about about 28.58 million bushels, up 40% from two years ago.
- Honeycrisp inventories totaled about 10.6 million bushels, up 93% from two years ago.
- Fuji inventories totaled about 15.9 million bushels, up 21% from two years ago.
Total processing holdings totaled 51.1 million bushels as of Nov. 1. The total was a 12% increase when compared to the same date in 2016. Additionally, it was a 17% increase from the five-year average for the date.
For what it's worth, apple sales only accounted for about 5.9% of total U.S. produce sales in September, according to Stemilt analysis of Nielsen Fresh Facts data. The total is down from the 6.5% reported in September 2016, reported The Packer (Nov. 7).
However, international sales are on the rise. Volume sales of Washington state apples on China-based Tmall grew more than 100% every year since 2013, according to the Washington Apple Commission. About two million cartons of apples are shipped to China each year, accounting for about 6% of the apples produced in the state, reported China Daily (Nov. 11).
To the north, Canadian apple production is expected to drop 8% to about 355,000 metric tons in the 2017-2018 harvest season, according to USDA. The U.S. is expected to continue accounting for 80% of Canada's fresh apple imports.