Commodity Apple Profile
By Malinda Geisler, content specialist, AgMRC, Iowa State University.
Profile revised September 2012.
Apples are regarded as the third most valuable fruit crop in the United States, following grapes and oranges. The 2011 apple crop was valued at $2.72 billion. The utilized apple crop was 9.31 billion pounds, down 1 percent from the previous year. According to the USDA, more than 60 percent of apple production is marketed as fresh fruit. (NASS)
Every state in the United States grows apples, and 29 states raise apples commercially. Washington State produces about 60 percent of the apples in the United States. Other leading states include New York, Michigan, Pennsylvania, California and Virginia. (NASS)
While the actual origin of apples is not known, it is likely the apple tree originated between the Caspian and the Black Seas. There is proof that man has enjoyed apples for at least 750,000 years. Apples were a favorite of the ancient Romans and Greeks.
Early settlers of the United States brought apple seeds with them. According to records belonging to the Massachusetts Bay Company, apples were grown in New England as early as 1630. As the United States was settled, traders, missionaries and Native Americans transported apple seeds west. John Chapman, also known as Johnny Appleseed, was responsible for extensive apple tree plantings in the Midwest.
Demand – Consumption
Apples are the second most consumed fruit (fresh and processed uses combined), following oranges. In 2010 average U.S. per person consumption of all forms of apples was about 48 pounds. The per person consumption of apple juice and cider has trended up to 26.6 pounds or 80 percent of per capita processed apples. The consumption of fresh market apples accounted for 15.45 pounds. The vast majority of apples and apple products are consumed at home.
Per person consumption during the 1990s for all apple uses averaged much higher than the previous six decades, according to the Economic Research Service. Factors contributing to increased apple and apple product consumption include new varieties, rising incomes, production expansion in the United States, a growing and more diverse population, products that better meet consumer lifestyles and increased awareness of including fruit in a healthy diet. U.S. apple growers received 29 cents per pound in 2011 for fresh market apples (NASS).
In 2011, the value of apples for processing was $338 million, according to the USDA. Washington State produces about 40 percent of the nation’s apple juice and cider. New York is the top state for canned apple products, processing around 35 percent of all canned apples.
Mott’s is known as the leading producer of branded applesauce and apple juice in the United States. Mott’s Inc. is a leading brand of Plano, Texas-based Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, a subsidiary division of London-based Cadbury Schweppes plc.
Another leading producer of apple juice and products is Tree Top, based in Selah, Washington. Tree Top is a grower-owned cooperative with more than 1,000 grower-owners in the Northwestern United States.
More than 7,500 varieties of apples are grown worldwide, and about 2,500 of these varieties are raised in the United States.
Out of almost 100 varieties of apples grown commercially in the United States, 15 popular varieties accounted for more than 90 percent of the 2006 U.S. production:
- Red Delicious
- Golden Delicious
- Granny Smith
- Northern Spy
Other commonly grown varieties regarded as up-and-coming "new" varieties by the industry include Braeburn, Cameo, Ginger Gold, HoneyCrisp and Pink Lady. The apple trade measures apples in 42-pound carton increments.
China leads the world in apple production, followed by the United States. Other leading countries are Turkey, Italy and Poland. Global apple production in 2006/07 was estimated at 42 million metric tons (MT).
Over the past decade, U.S. apple exports have increased because of liberalization of export markets, substantial industry export promotion efforts and increased disposable income in developing countries. However, in the last few years, U.S. market share of total world apple exports has dropped. China, the European Union and New Zealand have gained market share, while the United States market share of exports has declined.
In 2011 the United States exported more than 826,450 MT of fresh apples valued at nearly $941 million. Mexico ranks as the top export market for U.S. apples in value and volume, followed by Canada. Other leading export markets for U.S. apples are India, Taiwan and Hong Kong. (FAS)
Exports of U.S. apple juice totaled 34,823 kiloliters and were valued at $34.7 million in 2011. Canada was the largest market for the juice, followed by Japan and Mexico. (FAS)
Fresh apples and apple juice continued to dominate imports to the United States in 2011. Fresh apple imports totaled nearly than 147,790 MT, according to the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS). The value of fresh apple imports that year was more than $127 million. The leading supplier was Chile.
The United States imported nearly 1.9 million kiloliters of apple juice in 2011, valued at nearly $715.8 million. The top source was China, followed by Argentina, Chile and Brazil. Imports are mostly concentrated non-frozen. According to FAS, apple juice imports from China have increased from a 10 percent share of domestic apple juice consumption to 60 percent share in 2008.
Due to the surge of low-priced apple juice from China, the United States imposed antidumping duties on all imports of Chinese non-frozen apple juice concentrate in May 2000. The antidumping duties range from 9 percent to 52 percent. The antidumping duties were reviewed by the U.S. International Trade Commission in 2005. The existing order on imports of certain non-frozen concentrated apple juice from China remain.
In 2008, 17,626 acres were certified for organic apple production, up from 12,772 acres in 2005. Washington State accounted for 73 percent of the nation’s certified organic apple acres, followed by California and Arizona.
To USDA, certified organic means "agricultural products have been grown and processed according to specific standards of various state and private certification organizations." Certifying agents review farm applications and qualified inspectors conduct annual on-site inspections. Farm records track all management practices and materials used in organic production.
Except for operations with gross agricultural incomes of $5,000 or less, USDA-accredited certifying agents must certify farm and processing operations that grow and process organic foods. A certified operation must have a written Organic Farm Plan available to the public on request. The USDA Organic Seal may appear on organic apples and other 100 percent organic products, signs or advertising.
Pick your own
Another common marketing method for apples is pick-your-own. A pick-your-own, or U-pick, farm allows consumers to harvest produce themselves. Therefore, the farm requires less labor for harvesting. Tasks such as grading, storing and packing are eliminated.
There are some disadvantages to a pick-your-own farm. Like many ag enterprises, this type of operation requires long working hours. And most pick-your-own business takes place on weekends. It usually requires more liability insurance. To attract customers, the farm's location needs to be appealing. Parking is another critical factor and should be within reasonable walking distance of the production site. Poor weather can keep customers from visiting the farm.
By using uniform containers, produce may be sold by weight. If customers bring their own containers, the containers have to be weighed before harvesting. Another option is pricing by each item. Pricing on a per item basis works for apples but not for other produce such as berries.
An affordable method to market new products directly to consumers is for orchards to establish their own websites. More than 77 percent of the U.S. population has Internet access, and more of these people are shopping online. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, total e-commerce retail sales during 2010 were almost $169 billion.
The United States faces increasing competition from foreign producers of apples, including Chile, Brazil, South Africa, New Zealand, the European Union and eastern European countries. Foreign competition affects the market price and sale of apples in the United States.
The development of apple cultivars for new and traditional markets has contributed to much of the industry’s growth and economic viability. That is why it is important for the U.S. apple industry to continue the rapid deployment of new, viable apple cultivars.
Apples face increased competition from imports of other fruits, such as grapes, peaches, nectarines and plums from Chile. More choices for consumers in supermarkets have led to greater competition for domestically produced fruits.
Demographic Profile of Apple Consumption in the United States, Economic Research Service (ERS), USDA, 2005 - This report reviews the fresh apple market in the United States.
E-stats, U.S. Census Bureau.
Global Agricultural Trade System, Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), USDA.
ITC Makes Affirmative Determination in Five-Year (Sunset) Review Concerning Certain Non-Frozen Concentrated Apple Juice From China, International Trade Commission, 2005.
The National Organic Program
Noncitrus Fruits and Nuts, National Agricultural Statistics Service, USDA.
Organic Production, ERS, USDA.
U.S. Apple Association
U.S. Wins WTO Case against Japan’s Restrictions on U.S. Apples, FASonline, Horticultural & Tropical Products Division, USDA.
Washington Apple Country History