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Aug 18, 2023
USApple forecasts 2023-24 production slightly over previous season

This article features preliminary numbers from USDA and USApple; for the association’s annual estimate with updated numbers, see “U.S. apple crop forecast at 256 million bushels

Consumers will have a plentiful supply of apples in 2023-24, according to the U.S. Apple Association, with an expected production of 250 million bushels, a 1.5% increase over last season’s production.

The apple association released the U.S. production forecast at its annual Outlook Conference in Chicago in mid-August. Chris Gerlach, director of industry analytics for USApple, ends the event Aug. 18 with a review of the report.

USApple’s “Industry Outlook 2023” provides the most up-to-date data and analysis on U.S. and global apple production, utilization and trade. Authored by Gerlach, the report takes an in-depth look at the trends and forces — from political headwinds to weather events — that shape the U.S. apple industry.

Overall Production

According to USApple’s analysis of USDA data, total U.S. apple production for the 2023-24 crop year will be 250 million bushels. This represents a 1.5% increase compared to last year’s production figure.

These figures are more comprehensive than USDA data, which only look at the top seven apple-producing states. USApple analyzes the production from states outside of the top seven and adds that back into USDA’s figure.

“With considerable increases and decreases from top apple producing states, we’re pleased to net out with national apple production that will not only meet last year’s figure but exceed it slightly — there will certainly be plenty of high-quality U.S. apples available to consumers,” said Gerlach.

Varieties 

At the varietal level, Gala is expected to retain the top spot with more than 45 million bushels produced, accounting for around 18% of the U.S. apple market. Included in the top five this year are other varieties. After Gala, rounding out the top five are Red Delicious (31 million bushes), Honeycrisp (28 million bushels), other varieties (25 million bushels) and Fuji (million bushels). Granny Smith just missed number five with 24.6 million bushels.

Seeing “other varieties” climb and make their way into the top five produced varieties is an illustration of consumers’ growing appetite for all different types of apples.

“We learned today during an Outlook 2023 presentation that 48% of consumers say they generally buy the same variety of apple every time they shop,” said Gerlach. “That means 52% of shoppers might be willing to make an apple purchase based on different attributes, like flavor, appearance, and store promos. With an almost 50/50 split, there are opportunities for growers to harness consumers’ love of a familiar favorite or to sell them something new.”

Though Red Delicious remains the second most-produced apple, its production has declined steeply over five years. Red Delicious decreased by 42% or 23 million bushels, compared to 2018-19 production volumes. Conversely, Honeycrisp production has increased by 46% or almost 9 million bushels during the same period.

Trade

Fresh apple exports totaled 36.2 million bushels in 2022 — a 7% decline over 2021 levels. At the same time, fresh apple imports also decreased by nearly 13% to 5.3 million bushels.

While the U.S. still maintains a healthy net positive balance of trade, there is much work needed to get back to the high-water mark set in 2018. In that year, total exports were 48.5 million bushels and the trade balance was 41.6 million bushels.

“With the recent news that India has lifted its 20% retaliatory tariff on U.S. apples, we’re hoping to see that export number start to increase as we build back that critical market,” said Gerlach.

State Production

At the state level, Washington will remain the nation’s top producer with an estimated crop of 160 million bushels valued at more than $2 billion. This production level represents a 9% increase from the 2022-23 crop year. Following the state’s largest ever recorded crop last year, Michigan is projected to decrease production by more than 15% to 27.4 million bushels. It is expected, however, that they will hold on to the number two spot ahead of New York as that state was hit with a late-spring frost causing production to fall by almost 19% to 26.2 million bushels.

Pennsylvania, California, Virginia, and Oregon round out the top producing apple states respectively.

Newton

Launched at last year’s Outlook, USApple’s Newton Database & Dashboard is a one-stop-shop for apple-related statistics. Newton consolidates data from USApple and multiple USDA sources in to one place giving users up-to-date information on apple production, utilization, trade, prices, storages, movement, economic impacts and more. This unique USApple member benefit gives users the ability to view preset reports or create custom queries for download.


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