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half of all apples are grown in China

EU interest in global apple market decreasing

Globally, the apple market has grown enormously over the past decade. In the period 2003 - 2013 production increased by a quarter to 75-80 million tons. World trade (which is the exports of all countries together) even grew by a third to 8.5 million tons. The growth in production is almost entirely attributable to China. The production of apples in China has increased from 21 to 38 million tons. Therefore, nowadays half of all apples are grown in China.

Poland is the largest exporter worldwide. In 2013 the country exported 1.2 million apples. In ten years the Polish apple exports tripled. China was the second largest exporter in 2013 with approximately one million tons. Chinese apple export has not grown since 2007. Shortly behind China is the US, followed by Chile and Italy. In 2013 Russia was by far the most important market for apples. As many as 1.35 million tons of apples were introduced in 2013. That means the numbers doubled in ten years.

Net imports and exports in EU countries grew

Strikingly, the joint export of EU countries has remained virtually unchanged in the last ten years. However, it is true that trade between the EU countries has dropped sharply; but net EU exports has grown considerably. It is the same with the import side; strong growth of net imports into EU countries. In 2003, EU countries accounted for almost half of the total worldwide trade in apples. In 2013, it was still more than a third. The South American countries, in particular, have expanded their world share, from 14 to 19%. On the import side, the share of EU countries also fell by about half, to about a third. Eastern Europe (especially Russia) was able to expand it's share considerably, from 11 to 19%. 

EU intra-trade shows sharpest decline

The main trade flow of apples was (and is) between EU countries. In 2003, the EU had almost 40% of the total world trade in apples. Now the EU has a quarter. EU trade to Eastern Europe (Russia) follows in second place with a share of 5% in 2003 and 12% last year. The mutual trade within countries in Southern and Eastern Asia grew along with worldwide trade, to about 8%. South American countries are acting more and more with each other and less with EU countries.

Looking for a market for 800,000 tons of EU apples

The apple harvest in the EU this year is quite large; with 650,000 to 850,000 tons of EU apples. This high number, coupled with the loss of the Russian market, will cause some major marketing problems for the 2014/15 season.
The (growers) prices will therefore be low. It is mainly Polish apples that will go to Russia; last season it was 530,000 tons. Furthermore, some exports from Lithuania will be passed as Polish products. According to the KCB, 7,600 tons Dutch apples went to Russia last season. This was considerably more than in the previous season, but less than in 2011/12. Last season, nearly half of all Russian apples were imported from Poland. In 2012, more than half of all imported apples to Russia were from Poland.In the 2013/14 season Moldova was the second highest supplier to Russia, with a quantity of 164,000 tons. Belarus has rapidly climbed to third place in the last season by importing 155,000 tons.
Then followed Serbia and China. After setting the boycott of imports, primarily from the EU countries, these two countries have managed to expand their supplies to Russia in the first few months of the 2014/15 season.
Other countries that benefited from the boycott: Serbia and Ukraine, and on a smaller scale also Chile, New Zealand and South Africa.

Is China the largest?

Therefore now the question is whether Poland will be the world's largest apple exporting country in 2014 and all of 2015. Perhaps Poland will be replaced by China. The country exported 935,000 tons in the 2013/14 season, and more than 1 million tons during the season prior. Chinese apple exports are spread over many countries. There is not one country that really stands out. The main customers are: Thailand, Indonesia, Russia, Bangladesh, India, Kazakhstan, Vietnam and the Philippines. Almost no Chinese apples go to Western Europe. The world's third largest apple exporter is the United States. Each year about 900,000 tons of US apples go over the border. Neighboring countries Mexico and Canada are the main customers.

More than 50,000 tons of Chilean apples go to India

Just behind the USA, is Chile coming in fourth on the list. Up to 2010 Chilean apple exports grew steadily to 900,000 tons. Since then this has stabilized at a level of 850,000-900,000 tons. This year's Chilean exports are slightly beneath 2013 numbers. Compared to last year, more was exported to other South American countries and to South and East Asia. 5% less was sent to EU countries and 13% less to North America, but exports to the Gulf states fell even further; 33%. Looking at individual countries exports ran well to Columbia, Ecuador, Brazil, Peru, the United Kingdom, and Bolivia. The most striking was the strong growth in exports to India. In 2013, 17,500 tons were sent, and this year more than 50,000 tons. Royal Gala is by far the most important product exported by Chile, with exports reaching 400,000 tons this year.

Italian and French apples going to many countries

Italy and France are fifth and sixth on the 2013/14 export list, exporting 852,000 and 695,000 tons, respectively. The two countries differ in terms of main buyers; Italy provides most of it's apples to Germany with Spain coming in second and being very far behind Germany. French exports heavily to the United Kingdom and Spain. What both countries have in common is the large number of countries they export to. Last season Italy exported more than 1,000 tons to 42 countries. France exported more than 1,000 tons to 35 countries last season. Italy has a number of major customers in Northern Africa, namely Libya (53,000 tons), Egypt (52,000) and Algeria (38,000). All three of these countries have growing markets for Italian apples. Of these countries, France only exports a significant amount to Algeria; 75,000 tons last season. Italy exported 28,000 tons in the 2013/14 season to Russia and France exported 24,000 tons.

South Africa: Sharp decline after record exports last year

South Africa is number seven on the apple exporter list. In 2013, South Africa sent 480,000 tons of apples (a record quantity) abroad. In the first eight months of this year however, exports are lagging far behind that record, by 23%. Sales in the EU countries (-45%) and the Gulf States (-25%) have far under performed this year compared to 2013. Exports to African countries and South and East Asian countries remained stable. In regards to individual countries, the sharp decline from the main buyer (United Kingdom) is striking (33,000 tons last year); the dramatic decline in exports (percentage wise) to the Netherlands also stands out, 12,000 tons last year. No fewer than 42 countries were exporting more than 1,000 tons each.

New Zealand

Until last year New Zealand was sending more and more apples abroad every year. Last year 375,000 tons were sent abroad. This year, exports will not reach that level; they will hit approximately 340,000 tons. This is less than what was sent abroad in 2012. Export has declined to both the EU as well as to other countries not within the EU. This year 10,000 tons less than last year was sent to the UK. Because sales in the United States have slightly decreased we now have to wait for the final figures regarding which country is the most important buyer for New Zealand apples. The Netherlands remains the third highest buyer with over 40,000 tons, slightly less than last year.

Furthermore, some striking shifts have occurred. Sales have fallen sharply in Thailand, India, the United Arab Emirates and China. But there was significant growth compared to countries in Taiwan, Singapore, Russia and Vietnam. With Royal Gala taking up one third of their exported apples, this is the most important breed of apples that New Zealand exports. The second most important breed is Breaburn, and far behind Breaburn is the Jazz breed. 


For Belgium, the Netherlands is their main buyer. The (re-) exports to the number two country, France, has fallen in the last season. Exports going to Germany remained stable this past season after the sharp decline in 2012/13. Belgium exports much more apples to Russia than to the Netherlands. Last season they exported more than 23,000 tons to Russia. Germany is indeed a net importer of apples, but they are also exporting themselves as well. Last season exports fell sharply compared with previous seasons. In the 2013/14 season 60,000 tons were exported from Germany. Before this past season it was almost always more than 100,000 tons. Denmark and the Netherlands alternate as it's main customer.

Germany: Even last season a lot more imports from Poland than before

Russia was (and is?) by far the most important apple importer in the world. Germany is number two, but far behind Russia. In the past year Germany imported a quantity of nearly 580,000 tons. That was more than in the two previous seasons, but still not as much as before when there were more than 600,000 tons imported. Italy was by far the most important supplier this past season with a quantity of 220,000 tons. That was more than in the two previous seasons, but less than before. Netherlands has long been Germany's second supplier. According to the German statistical office, 75,000 tons came from the Netherlands last season. According to Eurostat 114,000 tons were imported from the Netherlands. The difference is re- export. It is noteworthy that the German statistical office says that many more Dutch apples were sent out than were sent to Germany according to the KCB. After the Netherlands, France and Poland are the other major suppliers to Germany. Both yielded more this past season than before last season, but the rapid growth of the import of Polish apples is quite striking.

German imports from countries outside the EU does not make up even 20% of the total.
New Zealand is the most important now, but this will change over the coming years. This year they don't even have 30,000 tons, while previously they had 60,000 tons. Last season, for the first time, reasonable quantities of (table) apples were imported from Serbia. Much less South African apples were going to the UK. The UK is the world's third largest importer. With 450,000 tons of import this past season, this has been the smallest amount since 2009/10. France, being the most important supplier, did not do badly, with a quantity of 155,000 tons.
Imports from South Africa, the second supplier, fell strongly to 70,000 tons against last season's 100,000 tons. Imports from New Zealand continued to slow down, declining to 42,500 tons. Imports from Chile recovered quite quickly and came in at 41,000 tons. Germany, Italy, Netherlands and Spain are the medium-sized suppliers. It stands out that imports from Spain continue to grow steadily. A quarter of the imports from the Netherlands are Dutch products. 

Sharp drop in French import

Imports to France fell sharply last season from 265,000 tons in 2012/13 to 170,000 tons last season. Spain, acting as the main supplier, was able to maintain it's sales to France, but Belgium, Netherlands, Italy, Poland and Germany sent significantly less apples to the French market. Spain is usually good an import of 200,000 tons or more every season, but in last season this number was not reached; not even 90,000 tons was reached. France, as a major supplier, did well, but from Italy, Chile, Germany and Poland did not do as well.

A lot of mutual trade going on in North America

Mexico and Canada are major importing countries; for the most part, importing from the United States. The United States accounts for an import of 200,000 tons. Chile is by far their main supplier. This year's imports from Chile, with 120,000 tons, have lagged behind those of previous years. New Zealand did supply more, however.

India, growing market; 250,000 tons this year

India has become an important growing market for apples in the last few years. Last year it went to nearly 200,000 tons; this year it will exceed 250,000 tons. Most come from China. The United States and Chile are the other major suppliers. Furthermore, there are still significant amounts imported from New Zealand. The Gulf states annually account for an import of 350,000 tons. Chile is the main supplier, followed by the United States, China, France, Italy, New Zealand and Lebanon. The Netherlands produces modest amounts to the Gulf states. Egypt is also a growing market, but in 2013, however, this was no longer the case. Up until 2012 imports grew to 160,000 tons, last year that figure was 140,000 tons. Lebanon and Turkey are the two main suppliers. Greece and Italy come somewhere in the middle. Previously, China and Syria supplied significant amounts to Egypt, but that has become less and less in recent years. Belarus was (is?) also emerging as an importing country. In 2013 they imported 180,000 tons. The bulk of this coming from Poland. For the most part, this was primarily intended for re-export to Russia.

The Netherlands: Just as many pears as apples

In the meantime just as many pears are being grown as apples. Both around 350,000 tons. Last year there were a little more pears and this year there are a little more apples. 

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Voor meer informatie:
Fruit & Vegetable Facts
Jan Kees Boon
+31 6 54 687 684
[email protected]
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