What do we know so far about the new crop apples out of Washington State for 2013? From my tour of Washington on August 14 and 15th I was surprised to see a wide range of variation compared to my past tours. The industry is saying the crop is somewhere between 120 million boxes and maybe as low as 110 million boxes. The Southern district and the Northern district has a somewhat lighter crop. The best growing areas that I saw for volume and size were the Royal Slope/Quincy/Mattawa districts. The apples are more of a shell crop in the Northern and Southern districts due to the early frost.
The growing conditions have been far from perfect. Washington State Apple orchard districts have been a little too warm and the color is not real great at this point. The galas in general are lighter in color than normal due to an early bloom and the fruit needs to get picked off before it starts cracking in the stem bowl. It can only hang for so long. Of course there are always areas that were not as affected. Also, the new varieties of galas are a more solid red color because of the strain.
If the weather stays warm, the color on some of the early variety apples like Honeycrisp, Galas, and Jonagolds could be lighter than last year. We are at a critical time for the weather to cool down and yet the weather the next week will be in the high 80’s with August 28 and 29 expected to be in the low 90s and this will bleach out more color.
Last year Washington State was basically the only game in town, but this year Michigan, New York, and Pennsylvania are blessed with a bumper crop and great finishing weather. Without a domestic apple commission for Washington State and the amount of new apple plantings, it appears Washington State is nearing the end of bull market run of the last 10 plus years.
With the new demand for “Local” and the increased freight costs going to the major population centers on the east coast, Washington State is in for a run for the money, with the other apple producing states. If Washington State growers implement a new “Washington State Apple Commission” for 2014 it could push the chain stores to give Washington State apples more play on the front end of the shipping season (September, October, and November). How are we going to move these future crops without a domestic apple commission? I've been told we have enough trees in the ground to produce a 200 million box crop. Don’t you think it is time to reconsider the need for a joint marketing and promotional effort? United we stand, divided we fall comes to mind. Maybe the shippers /growers will reconsider their need for a silver bullet.
Tom Farris of Washingtonstateapples.com
I remember having the old Washington State Apple Commission (WAC) before the industry shut it down in 2003. Back then things were different. We had gone through some tough times (ALAR) and if you look at the mix of varieties, there were only five main varieties: Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Gala, and Fuji. The industry was flirting with 90 + million boxes of apples to ship. The sense of brand recognition was everywhere: radio, TV, magazines, and newspapers all over the USA. Washington State Apples were “the King” when it came to produce marketing, having the power to influence the buyers, as well as the consumers. We had field reps looking at the apples at retail all over the country, comparing ours with imports or other domestic growing states, such as Michigan and Pennsylvania.
The WAC always had an incredible booth at the Produce Marketing Association national convention. When I began selling apples in 1985, the WAC was an icon of marketing power and unity for the shippers and growers in Washington State. The commission had been promoting the Washington State Apple Logo since 1937 and millions of dollars had been spent promoting that brand.
Think about it. What the Washington State growers and shippers did was like Nike or Coke breaking up their brand into many brands without any group marketing effort. Shutting down the domestic side of the Washington State Apple Commission, in my opinion, was the biggest mistake we could ever make as an industry. This was like putting “Humpty- Dumpty back together again”, once it broke up will it ever return? “United we stand, divided we fall”. The promotional material stopped, the field staff was fired the WAC was wacked into an export only office.
This won’t be my last editorial about the WAC, but for now, please take a step back and ask this series of questions: “Have we been riding on the shirttails on the past marketing of the Washington State logo, or have we been extremely lucky the last ten years? Or maybe we are better marketers than we used to be. Or maybe, Walmart and Costco have taken up the slack?
We are facing a huge crop in the 2013-2014 marketing season, in the neighborhood of 150 million boxes. Could we use a domestic marketing program as an industry? The way we used to do it was to put so much money with the retailers for advertising Washington State Apples at the most critical times of the year. In this way, other states didn’t have the chance to market their apples when Washington State was on ad as an industry. Now with freight rates and the push to buy local, Washington State is losing our market share. Since we closed the our commission the Eastern apple shippers formed one of their own and have increased their market share beyond what anyone would have imagined ten year ago.
I can’t really explain all the reasons I believe we have set ourselves up for another down cycle. All I can say is I remember what it was like to have a Washington State Apple Commission and I really miss it. We have become individual marketers looking out for our own interests. The export markets have grown, and guess what, how much can that be attributed to having a WAC export division? The WAC export team has become a force and export apple demand has never been higher. They say the domestic market is not growing. What they are really saying is other states are getting more of the pie than we are. It will only getting worse with the increase freight costs involved in moving apples across the country.
Washington State Apple Growers are living the dream when it comes to Honeycrisp. It is a phenomenon that can’t be stopped. The shippers can’t keep up with the demand and the prices are climbing to unheard of levels. Most apple varieties never sell for more than $45.00 to $50.00 per 38 pound box of apples, and most of the time under $30.00. But Honeycrisp apples are selling this week for over $75.00 per box. That means a truckload of Honeycrisp is worth over $75,000. The consumers are demanding this apple and buyers are starting to find that they can’t find enough to supply their stores.
Washington State will pack over 120 million boxes of apples of all varieties, and Honeycrisp will pack out to about 4 million boxes. When you ask consumers what apple they like the most, it is amazing how many tell you Honeycrisp. The price this season will not stop going up. The thought of a box of Honeycrisp at over $100 per box is not unreasonable. There were sales last year for $100 per box and this year it could go even higher. Congratulations to those growers who stuck it out during years when there was no money growing apples. These growers and shippers deserve the chance to let USA capitalism work for them. Considering all their hard work and years of investing and paying for their orchard, this is their chance to earn their reward, and who knows how long this will last?
When someone in the sports world makes 200 million dollars no one blinks an eye, so when a hard working farmer banks a lot of money, it should be something we can all be proud knowing that the free market economy is alive and well in Washington State Apple country.
Seventeen staff members of Domex Superfresh Growers became walking, talking billboards for the Movember Moustache movement. These men joined millions across the globe raising awareness and funds for men’s health concerns. Last year’s efforts raised over $126 million for medical treatments, research and education of men’s health risks.
What sets the men at Domex apart from the rest is that they serve together in the apple industry—shipping healthy apples to markets across the nation and the world. Apples continue to rank among the healthier food choices and have numerous benefits for disease prevention.
We salute Domex and all the men who joined together to use their faces to show what men face. May every dollar raised help those who need it most. And remember a delicious Washington State apple is always a good choice year-round.
As we approach mid -November, the Washington State Apple shippers are in the crazy mode. I have heard many horror stories of truck drivers being stranded at warehouses for 6 to 8 hours trying to get their orders loaded on their trucks. We are hearing stories of 27 to 30 trucks waiting to load at the packing houses.
Here is the deal. Washington has a record crop of over 120 million boxes of apples to ship. With the East coast crop failure in Michigan, New York, and other apple producers, it is putting a new and increasing demand on Washington packing houses to ship way more than normal. Are we up for the challenge?
Do yourself a favor and plan on shipping your holiday loads early to avoid the rush. You might decide to have your fruit inspected as well by a third party inspection service. We woulld be glad to help you evaluate your apple buying program.
Where is the mind of a retailer these days? Would you buy this box of Honeycrisp for $24.90 per box or would you rather pay $65.90 for the highest grade. On a truck load of apples that would be $41,000 difference in price. Think about that? Would a customer buy this grade of apple or do you, as a retailer have to pay $40.00 more per box to make the sale?
The picture below is the Premium at $65.90 per box.
Washington State is famous for our Red Delicious apples. What is more important to you, color or flavor? To me, it is flavor and crunch. So here is the question, "Do these Red Delicious have enough color?" I think so, but one of customers needs more color, even though he needs WX2 price. These are Red Delicious WX2 grade and are one of the best #2 around this 2012 season. Every customer has their special needs. How can we help you find what you need?
The apple deal in Washington is picking off longer than anyone thought, and it looks like Washington will pack more than 130 million boxes of appples in 2012. Warehouses are full and there are many issues facing the sale agencies due to grade and size. If you want more information go to our contact page.
So far this 2012 crop, small sized Red Delicious are hard to find. As a ground broker, it always surprises me when retailers and exporterers demand something that is in short supply. Why not use your buying power to make deals on the sizes of apples that are plentiful?
What in the hail is going on in Washington State 2012 crop? Are Washington State packers short sighted when they put this very rough product out to the consumers? It is really hard to say for sure, but in the long run it could be a mistake.