When the U.S. apple industry gained access for all varieties to the Chinese market in 2015 the impact was immediate. Shipments to mainland China leaped from a mere US$3.6 million in 2014 to US$23.2 million the following year.
Since then exports have lagged off somewhat down to US$17.7 million in 2017, but this is still almost five times what it was before the new protocol – a time when only Red Delicious or Golden Delicious could be shipped to the East Asian country.
In volume terms, last year apples were the third-highest U.S. fruit commodity exported to mainland China, behind cherries and citrus and ahead of table grapes.
“While it’s small in comparison to Red Delicious, Galas and Granny Smiths, we’re seeing interest in some of these high-value proprietary varieties going through the e-commerce platform, which really provides tremendous incentive for our industry as currently that’s where our growth pattern is.”
While there are almost too many of these cultivars to mention coming out of the Pacific Northwest, Fryhover says most of the ones with sufficient volume behind them are being tested in the Chinese market.
“The quantity going into these markets is very small. We’re just touching our toes into China into exports of these proprietary varieties because they are focused on the U.S. domestic market. No question,” he says.
However, with aggressive plantings underway the development of export markets will be crucial to the success of these apples. Fryhover believes this will be the case particularly for Cosmic Crisp, a cross between Honeycrisp and Enterprise apples.
“Cosmic Crisp is proprietary in the context that every grower in the state of Washington has access to these trees, It’s not one packer, one grower, it’s everyone,” he says.
Todd Fryhover of the Washington Apple Commission says export market development will be essential as plantings of new premium varieties such as Cosmic Crisp come on-line.
“The growers of New York or Pennsylvania or in most cases overseas, they don’t have access to this variety.
“So what we see in the next 10 years is a huge increase in plantings and availability of Cosmic Crisp and it will need to go export almost immediately because volume will come on so quickly.”
Article by Fresh Fruit Portal