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$8 for a gallon of cider?
US: Apple shortage pushes prices up this season
The reduced supply of apples across the state is making the cost of that sweet fall beverage jump by one or two dollars a gallon. Some places have cider gallons for $8, compared to only $5 or $6 last year.
“We lost 60 percent of our apple crop, we’ve had only two weeks of pick-your-own this year,” said Matthew Critz of Critz Farms in Cazenovia. He is selling half gallons for $3.99 this year, compared to $2.99 last year. Last year, a gallon was $5.99 and he isn’t selling gallons this year.
The same is true at Ontario Orchards west of Oswego. Kathy Ouellette said the orchard lost about 50 percent of its apples and is selling its cider for $5 a gallon this year, compared to $4 a gallon last year.
“We’ve had a hard time finding apples,” she said. “The price is due to the demand for apples.”
Ontario Orchards won’t even have enough Honeycrisps to make its popular Honeycrisp cider this year.
Making Apple Cider Making Apple Cider Sorting apples and making apple cider at Ontario Orchards, west of Oswego, NY. Dick Blume/The Post Standard Watch video
Early warmth in March made the trees bud, but then a cold snap at the end of April killed off lots of those buds.
The state’s apple crop is down by 52 percent this year, said James Allen, president of the New York Apple Association. There are pockets of locales in the state that weren’t hit as bad.
Critz said it costs the producer more to make cider this year too because the demand for processing apples is so high. Processing apples are those producers buy that are not good enough to sell as fresh, those that have blemishes or are not red enough for the consumer palate. They are normally used for juice, cider and applesauce.
Last year, processing apples cost 8 cents a pound but this year they are 25 cents a pound, Critz said.
“Everybody is looking for apples,” Critz said.
Allen said the highest price he remembers seeing for processing apples in the past is 14 cents to 15 cents a pound — and this was toward the end of the season when people sometimes pay dearly to get more apples.
“Now the price is 25 cents a pound and it was that high before the season even started,” he said.
He said the high prices of processing apples also will drive up the prices of applesauce and juices made from concentrate or apples from the United States. Juices and applesauce made from apples from overseas are not expected to be affected.
Other states are having the same problem. Michigan lost 88 percent of its apple crop and while Washington state has a good crop, producers are having problems harvesting because of 109 wildfires in the state.
“They can’t get workers to go out in the orchards,” Allen said.
Warren Abbott at Abbott Farms in Lysander is making five different kinds of cider this year and is using only his own apples. He said if he had to buy apples he wouldn’t bother making cider because the processing apples are so expensive.
His prices also are up this year — he’s charging $5.99 for a gallon of regular cider, up from $4.75 a gallon last year.
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