Demand for California organic apricots is strong this season.
“The demand for apricots has been exceeding supply since we’ve started. And we started almost 45 days ago,” says Stephen Paul of Homegrown Organic Farms in Porterville, CA.
While demand is strong, he does note that the crop size is between light and average this season. “Because the crop is lighter, our sizing has been fairly good. In general, stone fruit sizing has been a challenge this year. If anyone has a heavy crop, then I’d say they’re fighting size,” says Paul. “We’ve just had very erratic weather with spikes to 108 degrees and then dips a few days later into the 70s.”
Following its start to the season the first week in May, Homegrown Organic Farms is currently working with Hermosa apricots. “And our Brittany Gold variety will start in a couple of weeks and then run through mid-July,” says Paul, noting that there may be gaps between California and the Pacific Northwest’s stone fruit season due to weather challenges in the latter’s region.
Why demand is up
As for demand, Paul feels like demand for stone fruit is stronger following the height of the pandemic. “Most stone fruit sales have been fairly steady, and we’ve put together some bagged programs this year that have been strong,” he says. “The bags provide mental security. Plus, retailers have also grown their e-commerce programs and have to provide sellable units over loose fruit so bags are something consumers can grab and put into their online carts.”
Paul adds that consumers are also more interested in eating healthier following the pandemic. “Apricots are a one-serving piece of fruit. People like the convenience of that and it’s also not really messy,” he says.
As for pricing, given the strength in demand, Paul estimates pricing across the board in stone fruit commodities are up approximately 10 percent over last year.