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US: Organic apple market seriously short on supplyThe North American market for organic apples is very short at the moment, according to David Posner, President of Awe Sum Organics, the biggest importer of organic apples in the US. This is down to three reasons. The first is the growing demand for organic fruit in the states over the last few years, +20% per year, secondly the fact that prices have been so low that some large organic growers have been forced to change to conventional growing or have been put out of business all together and lastly extreme climatic conditions in the southern hemisphere's growing regions.
Another industry source said prices were sky-high, quoting around $85 -$100 for organic apples in North America.
Posner is not trading at such high prices, but said returns for growers must be sustainable to carry them through to next season and despite the low volumes costs remain the same for the organic growers.
Argentina had a terrible fruit set on late varieties due to ash from a volcano, the situation was then made worse by multiple severe hail storms in the fruit growing regions resulting in around 30-50% less apple production and sizes were also small. Chile was also affected by the weather but also by several large organic growers going out of business, resulting in as much as a 35-40% drop in packable fruit. New Zealand has seen the biggest drop in volumes though with 50% or more less organic apples available this season, this again is due climatic conditions during the growing season as well as several of the major organic growers going out of business due to increasing costs and lower returns.
New Zealand suffered its coldest wettest summer in recorded history this year which has resulted in small sizes as well as a short crop. Although as Posner explains that despite the small sizes, the quality of the fruit is some of the best ever, with great colour, flavour and brix levels.
The New Zealand season has been delayed by at least a month and this combined with severe delays in the fruit arriving from Chile because of an ongoing affect of a recent strike in the Panama Canal which has been reeking havoc with arrival schedules and is causing the shortages on the US market.
Despite this Posner is confident that Awe Sum Organics, who have almost 100% of all organic apples exported from New Zealand to the US and Canada, will be able to fill the contracted and pre-committed volumes as well as taking care of long standing customers for their organics apples although delivery dates and sizes may be pushed out.
"Obviously it easier for us to take care of customers who had planned specific programs with us in advance of the shipping season," explains Posner.
He is confident that the situation will get better in the next few weeks when the New Zealand supply builds up. The situation however is not so positive on the spot market where fruit is expected to remain scarce.
Awe Sum Organics, Inc.
Phone: (831) 462-2244
Fax: (831) 462-2552
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