In this installment of the ‘Agronometrics In Charts’ series, Sarah Ilyas studies the state of the US apple season. Each week the series looks at a different horticultural commodity, focusing on a specific origin or topic visualizing the market factors that are driving change.
USApple recently published its ‘Industry Outlook 2023’ which furnishes a comprehensive analysis of the prevailing dynamics within the U.S. and global apple production, utilization, and trade. The report delves into an exhaustive examination of the influential trends and factors that intricately shape the landscape of the U.S. apple industry.
In light of the report findings, the U.S. Apple Association offers a promising outlook for consumers in the upcoming 2023-24 period. Forecasts indicate an expected production of 250 million bushels of apples, representing a measured uptick of 1.5% when compared to the production figures of the previous season. “With considerable increases and decreases from top apple producing states, we’re pleased to net out with national apple production that will not only meet last year’s figure but exceed it slightly — there will certainly be plenty of high-quality U.S. apples available to consumers,” says Chris Gerlach, director of industry analytics for USApple.
At the varietal level, Gala is poised to maintain its prominent position, with a projected yield of over 45 million bushels. This figure constitutes approximately 18% of the U.S. apple market, firmly solidifying Gala’s supremacy. Gala is followed by Red Delicious, contributing 31 million bushes; Honeycrisp comes in third at 28 million bushels. “Other varieties” contribute a substantial 25 million bushels, Fuji takes up the fourth spot while the projection for Granny Smith narrowly missed the fifth position with an expected production of 24.6 million bushels.
The ascent of “other varieties” into the top five ranks signifies a striking manifestation of the evolving consumer palate which has begun to embrace a diverse array of apple types. A noteworthy 48% of consumers express a habitual inclination towards purchasing the same apple variety on each shopping occasion. This leaves 52% of shoppers open to exploring apple selections based on distinctive attributes encompassing flavor profiles, aesthetic appeal, and promotional incentives orchestrated by stores. This nearly even divide presents growers with a distinct opportunity to cater to the affinity for familiar favorites or alternatively, to entice customers with novel offerings. In parallel, the landscape for Red Delicious has undergone a transformation. Although still positioned as the second most-produced apple, its output has exhibited a substantial decline over a five-year span. Evidently, Red Delicious production has receded by an impactful 42%, translating to a substantial contraction of 23 million bushels when compared to production volumes registered in the 2018-19 period. Conversely, Honeycrisp production has experienced a notable upswing, marked by a commendable 46% surge equating to an approximate increment of 9 million bushels.
At the state level, Washington will remain the nation’s top producer with an estimated crop of 160 million bushels valued at more than $2 billion. This production level represents a 9% increase from the 2022-23 crop year. Following the state’s largest ever recorded crop last year, Michigan is projected to decrease production by more than 15% to 27.4 million bushels. It is expected, however, that Michigan will hold on to the number two spot ahead of New York which was hit by a late-spring frost causing production to fall by almost 19% to 26.2 million bushels. Pennsylvania, California, Virginia, and Oregon round out the top producing apple states respectively.
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All pricing for domestic US produce represents the spot market at Shipping Point (i.e. packing house/climate controlled warehouse, etc.). For imported fruit, the pricing data represents the spot market at Port of Entry.
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Written by: Sarah Ilyas