More competition in the US with Chinese and European apples

Last summer one of Chelan Fresh’s storage facilities went up in flames. The year before forest fires also caused damage. “The chance of forest fires is always present on the West Coast,” says Tim Evans, General Sales Manager, soberly. “We deal with it when it comes.” China and Europe are also gaining access to the American market.

The forest fire that destroyed a packing facility at Chelan Fruit last year, also incinerated 150,000 wooden bins and 450,000 boxes of apples. “By working together and with support from the sector we were able to limit the impact,” continues Tim. “Luckily it was an older packaging facility.” The cause of the fires is warm summers and a winter without much snow. “This year we have had more snow and more of a normal winter.”

The American state of Washington is the largest apple producer in the US. Around 70 percent of the production is sold on the domestic market. Last year Chelan Fresh harvested 18.5 million boxes of apples, pears and cherries. The pears are worth 1.5 million boxes, cherries fill 3.7 million boxes. One of the big apples varieties that Chelan markets is the Granny Smith. A new variety that Tim has high expectations for is the SugarBee, which will arrive on the market with large volumes in 2018. This apple has a long shelf life. “The flavor is on the sweet side of the spectrum, and the apple has a crunchy bite.”

European countries are gaining access to the American market. Chinese companies taking up export and Mexico imposing tariffs on Washington apples; the sector is facing various challenges. Tim Evans doesn’t seem to be impressed with these developments.

Europe, China and Mexico
“The European access to the market is going to happen,” he says. “That means that the competition will be a bit bigger, but in general Europe won’t be a large exporter to America. The US is attractive for a few specific varieties at the most.” The apples also have to meet strict conditions to be allowed to be imported.

The opening of the borders to Chinese apples also doesn’t shake Tim. “Most of the apples grown in China are sold on the domestic market. So far we haven’t seen an impact of Chinese apples on the American market.” The top five varieties on the American market are the Red Delicious, Gala, Granny Smith, Fuji and Honey Crisp. “Those five varieties are worth approximately 72 percent of the market.”

Mexico has imposed tariffs on apples from a number of Washington State companies in an anti dumping case. The country has an import tax between 0 and 20 percent, with an average of 7.5 percent. “Mexico is a big market for American apples. The jury is still out on the final determination in the case.”

More information:
Tim Evans
Chelan Fresh

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