Worldwide approximately 824 million metric tons of fresh fruit were produced in 2013. With 81 million metric tons of apples reaching a respectable share of 12 percent. Thus apples are the most important fresh fruit directly after bananas. Closely followed by wine grapes with 77 million metric tons and oranges with 71 million metric tons. Taking all crops into consideration, the apple is in the 20th position. Quantitatively the most significant crop is cane sugar, followed by rice, corn and wheat.
China is the largest producer
The global apple production is dominated by China. 49% of the global production, that is about 40 million metric tons, comes from China. Far behind comes the USA, with a production of 4 million metric tons they hold the second position. With a share of 4% Turkey is also an important player in the apple trade. Followed by Poland and Italy, the first European countries on this list with market shares of 4% and 3%. There is potential to grow in India. There are massive growth opportunities in India with a production share of 3% set against the total population. As a comparison: Austria has a world market share of 0.47% with an apple production of 375,000 metric tons (approximately 180,000 metric tons grown commercially).
Global apple consumption grows
According to research of the AMI the apple consumption has changed drastically over the last 10 years. The distinction is made between apple producing countries and countries without apple production. In the apple producing countries of Western Europe and Northern America the apple consumption has clearly decreased, -11% in Western Europe and -8% in Northern America. On the other hand consumption on the southern hemisphere has grown by a percentage. And Asia has shown a quite remarkable growth too. The production has increased by 67% in 10 years. In Africa and South-east Asia, regions without apple production, the apple has become increasingly more popular. West Africa exhibits the largest growth in consumption with 175%. In East Africa and South-east Asia the consumption increased with 70% and respectively. These markets are fought over and cause an increasing shift in the flow of goods from a global perspective. Especially South Africa is trying to supply the surrounding markets. Europe seems to be losing its central role on the world market in the fruit and vegetable sector.
Declining apple consumption in Europe
The consumption of apples in the EU (about 500 million inhabitants) is on average 15 kg per person. In Austria the apples are more in demand with a consumption of 19 kg per person. The total apple consumption in the EU is about 7.5 million metric tons. Regrettably a decline is visible in the consumption of apples in the last years. The downward trend is about 2% per year. This is the considerable amount of 150,000 metric tons, and is a major challenge for the European producers.
Asia is promising growth
In the previous season 56,000 metric tons of apples were imported from India and 52,000 metric tons from China. Only Italy and France succeeded to get a foothold at these markets, and only with small amounts. These markets are still developing and to meet the high standards of quality a lot of work still has to be done. For the largest part Asia is supplied by the USA, Chile and New Zealand. The African countries import their apples in the first place from South Africa. In total an amount of 99,000 metric tons was imported in 2014. That is an increase of around 50% compared to 2011. The largest part of the produce went to West Africa, with Nigeria as the largest market in the region. The most important market in East Africa is Kenya. Tanzania has only bought small quantities of apples.
Forecasts for the coming harvest
WAPA (World Apple and Pear Association) estimates this year a harvest of about 12 million metric tons for the 28 EU member states. This is somewhat lower than the very high yield of the previous season. But it is still 7% higher than the average from 2012 to 2014. The first forecasts of the individual countries confirm this. The lower expected yield could relieve the pressure from the market and maybe increase the income for the producers compared to last year. In Poland, the largest apple producer of Europe with 3.75 million metric tons of apples, the harvest could be slightly lower due to the drought. Germany has adjusted its initial forecast slightly upwards, overall cautiously optimistic expectations for the coming season. This year conditions for apples in France were very good. The yield increased by 10% to 1.6 million metric tons of apples. France became the third largest producer of apples in the EU after Poland and Italy. Italy, which suffered from drought too, expects a yield of 2.33 million metric tons (minus 5% compared to the previous year).
The 2015 apple harvest in Austria consists of high quality apples. In total 180,000 metric tons are harvested, this is a decrease of 5% compared to last year.
New Zealand also gave the first estimates of the harvest of 2015-2016. Based on the favorable weather a somewhat larger yield of 551,000 metric tons is expected. Therefore an increase in export volume is expected, especially to Asia. In contrast to the export to Europe, which have decreased in recent years.
Turkey expands its apple production and is the first to profit from the improved export opportunities to Russia due to the Russian import ban on European agricultural products.
The important varieties
Three varieties are responsible for 33% of the production volume. The most important variety is the Golden Delicious with 2.546 million metric tons. Follow by the Gala apple with 1.331 million metric tons and Idared apples with 1.111 million metric tons. The production of Red Delicious and Jonagold reach around 600 million metric tons. On the southern hemisphere Gala is clearly the most popular with 1.8 million metric tons. And in the USA the Red Delicious is with 1.2 million metric tons the most popular apple. Idared is becoming the main apple variety in Russia.