Apr 27, 2022
Apples among California crops to feel squeeze from Ukraine war

As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine drives up prices of grains, sunflower oil and other commodities, several California crops may begin to feel ripple effects from the war, underscoring their link to global markets.

Todd Sanders, executive director of the California Apple Commission, said he expects more market competition for California and other U.S. apple producers this year.

That’s because Poland, which historically shipped a significant amount of its crop to Russia, will be looking for alternative markets due to new sanctions against Russia. He said he thinks more Polish apples will show up in markets that currently buy California apples, putting more pressure on those markets.

“Now our apples are going to have to find other homes,” Sanders said. “We’ll be displacing somebody else or vice versa. It’s just this huge snowball effect.”

Poland remains the largest apple producer in the European Union and the world’s No. 3 producer, after China and the United States. Other significant players include Turkey and India, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Though Polish apples do not currently have market access to the U.S., because a formal pest-risk assessment has never been conducted, Poland has been included in the EU’s request for expanded market access to the U.S., according to the U.S. Apple Association.

“Something that I’m hearing is that (Poland is) going to begin pursuing market access to the United States fairly aggressively,” said Elizabeth Carranza, the apple commission’s director of trade and technical affairs. “That might be something that we could see coming into effect here in the next couple of years.”

She said there could also be more market pressure from other EU countries such as France, another major apple producer that may need to look for additional markets.

– Ching Lee, California Farm Bureau Federation

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