Falls Church, Va. — The 2019 apple crop was the sixth largest crop in history, said the U.S. Apple Association today at the organization’s 125th Annual Crop and Outlook Marketing Conference. Apple exports also rebounded during the past year, with a 15 percent increase in volume, but lower prices limited the export value increase to 7 percent.
At 262 million (42lb units) bushels, the 2019 apple crop was up 8 percent in volume from 2018, but lower prices caused the overall wholesale value to decrease from $2.95 billion for the 2018 crop to $2.75 billion (a decrease of 7 percent in value for the larger 2019 crop).
Looking ahead at 2020, USApple calculates that the Agriculture Department’s August 12 estimate of 253.6 million bushels (down 3 percent from the 2019 crop) would be the ninth largest crop since the government department began reporting apple production in the 1940s.
Following a year of uncertainty and reduced bottom lines in 2018 due to trade conflicts, growers were relieved that 2019 exports rebounded from 38.9 million bushels with a value of $854 million for the 2018 crop to 44.9 million bushels, valued at $913 million for 2019, representing a 15 percent increase in volume, but a 7 percent increase in value for exports. While 2019 exports increased in volume from 2018, they were still well off the 2017 mark of 53 million bushels.
“Growers export about $1 billion worth of apples annually, making trade a critical part of the industry,” said USApple President and CEO Jim Bair. “While we are comforted to see export numbers rising after a nail-biting year of lost market share and plummeting grower revenues, we still have our work cut out for us to get back on steady ground.”
The industry continued the trend to adapt to consumer preferences by increasing production of Honeycrisp, which is expected to rise by 12 percent, moving it ahead of Granny Smith and Fuji into third place in national production.
“With the 2018 crop, Red Delicious lost the position it had held for decades as the largest volume variety to Gala,” said USApple Director of Regulatory and Industry Affairs Mark Seetin. “Projections for the current crop are that Gala will continue to expand its edge over Red Delicious and will remain the largest volume variety produced.”
The 2020 top five produced apple varieties are: 1) Gala 2) Red Delicious 3) Honeycrisp 4) Granny Smith and 5) Fuji.
The top 3 varieties (Gala, Red Delicious and Honeycrisp) comprise 48 percent of all production. The top five varieties (adding Granny Smith and Fuji) comprise 67 percent.