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US (NY): Apple industry touts quality amid short supplies

While harvest is still underway, the final production total for this year's apple crop in New York is expected to be much lower than in normal years. But in spite of the shortage, the apple industry in the state is focusing on the quality of fruit harvested and hoping for a better season next year.

Volume will be much lower this year, said Jim Allen, president of the New York Apple Association.

“We can't tell for certain what the final total will be because we're still picking, but there's no indication that the estimates are wrong,” he said. Projections for this season have the state's apple production down by as much as 48 percent of what it was last year. But although quantities are limited, he noted that quality of fruit is good and consumers are hungry for apples.

“The quality of product that's going to market is excellent,” said Allen. “The quality of some of the fruit coming out of the orchard might have issues, but that fruit won't go to the fresh market. We have to present the fresh quality of apples.”

Because there are limited supplies and demand has not abated, prices are up. Allen estimated that fresh market prices have risen by about 40 percent this year, and while that's due to short supplies, consumer demand has also been a factor.

“Prices are high, but consumers are still buying apples, so we know apples are a popular item,” said Allen. He expects good demand and high prices to remain throughout the rest of the season, and he hopes next year will bring better supplies.

“Growers are just looking to move forward,” said Allen. “It's a challenge, it's a setback, but you lick your wounds and you move on.”

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