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Washington generates the apple price

BC apples distinguish on unique varieties

The apple market in British Columbia is strong and fruit quality is excellent. The crop saw an increase in volume compared to last year and the lower value of the Canadian dollar is keeping the price of apples high. “Returns have improved in the last year,” states James Hanna of Hanna & Hanna Orchards, “It’s an improving trend for the fruit industry. The lower Canadian Dollar increases the amount of exports and because all wholesale fruits sales are made in USD, the returns to Canadian growers are higher.”

There is a 25% increase in apples at Hanna & Hanna Orchards, but it is more a function on fruit size. “We have the same number of individual apples but they are 25% larger.” Prices are still strong in the market and at retail which bodes well for growers. “There have been five or six years of below average harvests, so a strong yield and good returns are more than welcome this year.”

Apples sold in Canada have a price determined by what happens in the world market; therefore domestic sales are priced comparable to export sales. “It’s a very competitive business. Washington generates the apple price.” But British Columbia’s distinguishing factor is in growing varieties of apples Washington cannot. “Mcintosh apples for instance grow best 100 miles north of the border. Ambrosia is another apple discovered in British Columbia and has found great flavor in the market,” reflects Hanna, “Honey Crisp is another variety that the further north you are, the better it grows. The Honey Crisp is a grower friendly apple return-wise, allowing Washington growers to modify the climate in their orchards with sprinklers and shade cloth, the cost of which can be built into the price of the apple and still come out ahead.”

Hanna and Hanna Orchards grow over forty different varieties of apples. Most of the unusual varieties are sold in their market. The greatest volume is sold through British Columbia True Fruits. While growing different varieties does help, growers are always on the lookout for newer, better varieties. Honey Crisp and Ambrosia are currently the bright spots in the apple industry as the growers raising these varieties are doing well. “Twenty or thirty years ago, Gala was the upcoming variety that growers were getting behind. But now it’s a commodity while unusual varieties draw a premium.”

The apple market is always in a state of flux, the British Columbia apple industry has shrunk significantly by being only 30-40% of what is was 30 years ago due to unprofitability. “The most successful growers are able to change fast and go with the market,” explains Hanna, “You have to get into the market when it’s hot. Those that chose not to weather the storm have switched to growing grapes or a different crop; others have been forced to sell their farm.”

Hanna remains optimistic about the future of the British Columbia apple industry. “We’re very responsible with our crop production and our environment.” By using SIR or the sterile insect release growers have been able to eliminate the coddling moth, a significant pest and change the way they grow their crops. “It’s never been safer for consumers,” reflects Hanna, “British Columbia growers are responsible for the best apples in the world. They’re too modest or shy to say it, but you don’t have to worry when eating a British Columbia apple.”

For more information:
James Hanna
Tel: +1 250-832-4574
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