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Delays in shipping from West Coast are a boon for Northeastern apple movementThe northeast/mid-Atlantic region sees strong movement of apples. “We have adequate supplies of apples remaining to market for this time of year,” says Brenda Briggs of Rice Fruit Co. “Our overall holdings represent a smaller than average size crop for our growers.” Both the flavor and sizing of apples is excellent she adds, noting that along with seeing strong movement of Gala, Fuji and Granny Smith apples, Rice is working on numerous promotions of its KIKU® brand apple. All of Rice’s apples hail primarily from Pennsylvania, though it does see some come in from neighboring states.
That said, compared to last year’s market, apple volume is up this year. “This time last year, we had less volume of fruit in storage due to historic weather conditions from the 2016 growing season,” she says.
While pricing was strongest at the start of the season due to a scarcity of supplies says Briggs, the market has adjusted. “The market has since moderated and is steady,” says Briggs noting that while this year’s apple crop is one of the largest crops in recent years, there is some considerable volume in small-sized or bagging apples from the West Coast. “This has lowered prices to levels several dollars below a year ago,” she says. “Pricing for larger sizes are in line to slightly above last season. The other factor impacting demand and pricing is the increase in freight rates and tight availability of trucking. Interruption and delays in service from the West coast has been a boon to our movement.”
Looking ahead, Briggs sees little change coming in the next few weeks. “Sales have been strong at the start of the year and we are working with our partners to keep apple promotions highlighted on the shelf,” she says. Part of that is a new product Rice has introduced, the four-apple snack box that’s housed in a 100 percent recyclable, grab-and-go box.
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Rice Fruit Co.
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