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US (WA): Good outlook for tree fruit despite hail

With apple shortages hitting key parts of North America and Europe this year, hail in Washington this summer threatened to further curtail supplies of tree fruit. Though local suppliers still have to contend with a shortage this year, it's expected that both apples and pears will have good seasons in terms of quality and volume.

Hailstorms this summer hit several parts of Washington state, but, according to Loren Queen, marketing and communications manager for Domex Superfresh Growers, that didn't significantly affect this year's supply of apples.

“It looks like there will be more apples than the State initially estimated,” he said. “Even after the hail, we had more fruit to sell than last year, and now that we see the harvest picking long, we expect to be up appreciably over last year.” He added that, though pear volume is slightly down from last year, much like apples, hail did not affect this year's supplies of pears. That's good news because, with apple shortages throughout the country this year, growers will have to work hard not to lose consumer interest, and having a good apple crop and a good pear crop can help with that.

“Our hope is to keep shelf space normally reserved for local apples stocked with apples so the local growers can get that space back next year when they have normal crops,” said Queen. “The exciting piece of news with a good apple crop and a good pear crop is that when you promote apples and pears together you get a lift of 15 percent.”

Though prices, state volume and quality have been good for both crops, Queen said that the major challenge will be to make sure that growers and retailers don't lose any ground because of this year's overall national shortage of apples.

“The biggest threat this year will be a lack of apples to cover all the markets,” he said. “If the shelf space shifts to other fruit, we will have to earn it back next year when all the apple-growing regions are back up to normal crop volumes.” But that's a challenge he thinks the industry can meet.

“We have been working closely with retailers to retain our traditional shelf space and assure that they their apple category will be very profitable this year”, he said.

For more information:
Loren Queen
Domex Superfresh Growers
Tel: +1 509.966.1814

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