This graph shows a comparison of Washington apple varieties in the 2014-15 and 2023-24 seasons.  (Source: Washington State Tree Fruit Association; Graphic: Jared Johnson/Good Fruit Grower)
This graph exhibits a comparability of Washington apple varieties within the 2014-15 and 2023-24 seasons. (Supply: Washington State Tree Fruit Affiliation; Graphic: Jared Johnson/Good Fruit Grower)

It’s now not sufficient to develop new, tasty and agency apples. Producers throughout America have to be activists, media consultants, and stars of their very own story.

During the last decade, we have seen an explosion of fantastic new brand-name apple varieties like Cosmic Crisp, Envy, Opal, Autumn Glory, SugarBee, SnapDragon, RubyFrost, and that is simply the tip of the apple iceberg. All of those new varieties look and style good and have wonderful texture. However do customers know what they’re shopping for and do they duplicate that buy repeatedly?

Challenges abound in offshore exports: tariffs, elevated competitors, excessive freight charges and provide chain points. Washington state, which accounts for greater than 90 p.c of all U.S. exports, skilled its smallest export share in 20 years, with simply 23.6 p.c exported final season. This decline isn’t solely attributed to the challenges talked about above; The abandonment of conventional cultivars for high-value patented apples has an affect. We’re rising lower than offshore markets can afford, which places extra emphasis on North American customers. The times when a 3rd of our crop was exported are lengthy gone, as a result of most overseas customers merely can’t afford our apples.

This chart shows Washington apple exports from 2010 to 2023. (Source: Washington Apple Commission; Chart: Jared Johnson/Good Fruit Grower)
This chart exhibits Washington’s apple exports from 2010 to 2023. (Supply: Washington Apple Fee; Graphic: Jared Johnson/Good Fruit Grower)

Though the Washington Apple Fee focuses on worldwide commerce, we perceive and totally assist the event of attention-grabbing, better-tasting varieties aimed on the North American shopper. Excessive labor and enter prices go away growers no selection however to maneuver away from typical varieties, comparable to Crimson and Golden Scrumptious, for the chance to enhance profitability with Honeycrisp, Cosmic Crisp and 40 different new varieties. However on the identical time, the lower in per capita consumption requires exporting to keep up value steadiness and the profitability of producers, because the volumes of our crops exceed the demand of American customers.

The American apple class has exploded over the previous decade to satisfy home customers’ wants for top of the range, numerous taste and improved texture. In Washington, we’ve seen typical varieties like Crimson Scrumptious decline from 31 p.c of the crop in 2014-15 to 13 p.c in 2023-24. In the meantime, three classes have skyrocketed: Honeycrisp rose from 4.7 to 14.7 p.c, natural rose from 6.8 to fifteen.8 p.c, and the general “different varieties” class rose from 4 to 9. 4 p.c. This class contains 26 proprietary varieties (not together with Cosmic Crisp), of which solely seven exceed 300,000 bushels.

It’s troublesome to seek out fault with the brand new varietal pattern of the final decade: higher apples ought to translate into higher per capita consumption, fulfill numerous shopper preferences and be worthwhile. Moreover, these new varieties could be extra grower-friendly, improve quantity per acre, and in the end influence the grower’s backside line. The phenomenon of latest varieties doesn’t exist in a vacuum, as our brothers in most apple-producing states are additionally on the lookout for new varieties.

The problem is that whereas all the American apple business is concentrated on “getting higher at what we do,” per capita consumption stays static or declining.

This chart shows the availability of fresh apples per capita from 2012 to 2021. (Source: Washington Apple Commission; Chart: Jared Johnson/Good Fruit Grower)
This graph exhibits the provision of contemporary apples per capita from 2012 to 2021. (Supply: Washington Apple Fee; Graphic: Jared Johnson/Good Fruit Grower)

As apple manufacturing will increase, the necessity to export turns into much more needed. A decade in the past, Washington exported 35 p.c of the crop to 60 nations, however solely 23 p.c of Washington’s 2022-23 apple crop was exported. Is the decline an anomaly that we will attribute to post-pandemic transportation prices and logistical challenges or, maybe, a pattern?

The excellent news is that as an business, in 2023-24 we are going to in all probability be in the very best place we’ve ever skilled, with wonderful new varieties rising in quantity throughout the nation.

The problem going through apple growers in america is solely an oversupply with declining worldwide alternatives, coupled with static or declining per capita consumption.

New varieties are a part of the reply. Our best alternative is to extend per capita consumption in america as new varieties improve in quantity. Customers can get confused once they dive into the apple aisle of the produce division. So many sorts of apples, all related in colour and form. So many choices throughout the class, in addition to many different competing agricultural merchandise.

Apples want advocates who join customers to all of the scrumptious choices we’ve right now. However there is not sufficient assist in Washington to reestablish a unified business voice. The voice of the producer is now within the fingers of huge packers and vertically built-in gross sales teams which can be innovating to speak with customers.

That is the place the producer is available in! Customers are hungry for extra info. Influencers like Kaitlyn Thornton and Tyler Froberg have leveraged social media to succeed in customers and share details about what it takes to supply, course of and ship the agricultural merchandise they signify.

With almost 350,000 followers on TikTok, Thornton, a fourth-generation apple grower, posts movies starting from a humorous clip a couple of farming household to educating customers about labor prices within the orchard to speaking about seasonality. bloom. Froberg, a fifth-generation farmer with greater than 782,000 followers on TikTok, shares enjoyable farming info, featured merchandise, gardening suggestions, and extra.

Social media platforms will not be the one manner a producer can get entangled and inform their story. I feel we will all agree that operating a social media platform is not any joke and nearly turns into a second job. Producers like Carlos López, who owns and operates Lopez Orchards in partnership along with his father, Antonio, have used different types of media to inform his story. The Washington Apple Fee has partnered with Lopez a number of occasions for information articles and get-to-know-you interviews, and Lopez will seem in an episode of Washington Apples within the upcoming eleventh season of the tv sequence Washington Grown.

Producers like López ought to function an inspiration to others. Inform your story, we want it! Your native commodity fee is the right useful resource, so contact us. These tales assist construct belief within the agricultural merchandise you’re proud to signify.

by Todd Fryhover, Lindsey Huber and Jennie Sturdy

Todd Fryhover is the president of the Washington Apple Fee. He could be contacted at: todd.fryhover@waapple.org. You’ll be able to contact Lindsey Huber, Director of Worldwide Advertising, at: lindsey.huber@waapple.organd worldwide advertising specialist Jennie Sturdy could be contacted at: jennie.robust@waapple.org. Go to the WAC on-line at: waapple.org or name 509-663-9600.

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