As it stands, the uncertainties in overseas markets due to COVID-19 will almost certainly lessen the sales of most Washington commodities abroad.
In a normal year, roughly a third of the state’s apple crop is sold abroad, says Todd Fryover, president of the Washington Apple Commission. At the end of the current growing season, which concludes in early September, that share could be reduced to as low as 26%, Fryover says. “I’m trying to be optimistic. But with COVID-19, we’re just trying to figure out what the retail side of things will look like, both at home and abroad. Export demand is mixed right now.”
Mexico and India currently are the top importers of Washington apples. But stay-at-home orders, particularly in India, where the virus has seen a surge, has kept consumers out of markets and stores and has contributed to a reduction in demand, Fryover says.
The Washington apple sector is heavily dependent on India’s consumption of red delicious apples, he says, adding, “So far this season, we’ve not met target sales numbers on any variety.”
If the export market for Washington apples remains slow, the next step is to attempt to move them in the US market, he says.