By Hayley Boriss, Henrich Brunke and Marcia Kreith, Agricultural Issues Center, University of California.
Revised April 2011 by Diane Huntrods, AgMRC, Iowa State University.
Revised June 2012 by Dr. Greg McKee, professor of business and applied economics, North Dakota State University, firstname.lastname@example.org
Spanish explorers are credited with introducing the apricot to the New World, with the earliest plantings reported in Virginia. But the temperate eastern climate was not suitable for apricot production, which did not flourish until seeds were planted at Spanish missions in California.
Today, nearly 90 percent of the apricots grown in the United States come from California. The remainder largely comes from Washington, and less than a percent from Utah.
U.S. apricot production was nearly 69,000 tons in 2011 but was valued at over $63 million, an increase of over 30 percent relative to 2010. The value of fresh production accounted for 60 percent of this total while the remaining 40 percent consisted of processed apricots (NASS 2012).
The largest producers of apricots in the world are China and Turkey.
Nearly 40 percent of U.S. apricot production is destined for the processing sector, which includes canning, freezing, juice and dried products (NASS 2012). However, fresh-market apricots were valued at $39.4 million in 2011, reflecting the higher price per ton commanded by fresh apricots ($2,250), while processed apricots were valued at $16.4 million. The price per ton for processed apricots was much lower; apricots intended for drying brought a higher price per ton ($400) than apricots for canning ($390). (NASS 2011)
According to the Apricot Producers of California, the majority of California growers are small, family-owned businesses, with the farm acreage averaging between 50 to 60 acres. As the number of growers has decreased in recent years, production has become more concentrated. According to the 2007 Census of Agriculture (2009), the number of U.S. apricot farms totaled 3,141, an increase from 2002, but the total number of acres planted to apricots decreased to 13,750. By 2011, apricot bearing acreage had declined to 10,800 acres (NASS 2012).
Total apricot consumption per person in the United States has fluctuated between 0.8 and 1.6 pounds from 1972 to 2009. Fresh-market consumption has remained relatively stable, under 0.2 pounds per person, while consumption of dried apricots has increased and consumption of canned apricots has decreased. In 2009 dried apricot consumption was 0.6 pounds per person and canned apricot consumption was under 0.2 pounds per person (ERS 2011). Increasing imports, an increasingly health-conscious population and industry promotions have sustained domestic consumption despite decreasing domestic production.
Like most stone fruits, apricots thrive in a Mediterranean climate of long, hot summers and cool, wet winters. Apricots mature primarily in early summer making them one of the earliest available summer fruits. Commercially, the fruit is harvested just as the skin changes from green to yellow before the fruit is too soft and subject to bruising and rapid decay. The U.S. fresh market production season is relatively short, lasting from mid-May through mid-August. However, processed apricots are typically available throughout the year.
Average prices for fresh-market apricots are typically higher and more variable than those for dried apricots. In 2011, market prices for fresh apricots were $2,250 per ton and processed apricot prices were $390 per ton (NASS 2012).
U.S. apricot exports totaled 7,560 metric tons (MT) in 2011. More than 74 percent of the exports were in the form of fresh apricots; the remainder were either prepared apricots (16%) or dried apricots (10%). Canada continued to be the largest export market for both fresh and prepared apricots, followed by Mexico. Japan was the largest importer of U.S. dried apricots, followed by Canada. (FAS 2011).
More than 16,000 MT of apricots were imported in 2011. Most of the imported apricots, 13,700 MT or 85 percent, were in the form of dried apricots from Turkey. Nine percent, or 1,400 MT, of the imported apricots were fresh apricots from Chile and 6 percent, or 1000 MT, were imported prepared apricots from China. (FAS 2011).
The Apricot: An Early Summer Fruit, Economic Research Service (ERS), USDA, 2004.
Food Availability (Per Capita) Data System, ERS, USDA.
Fruits and Nuts: 2007 and 2002, 2007 Census of Agriculture, National Ag Statistics Service (NASS), USDA, 2009.
Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook, ERS, USDA, 2012.
Global Agricultural Trade System (GATS), Foreign Ag Service (FAS), USDA, 2011.
Noncitrus Fruits and Nuts, NASS, USDA, 2012.
Stone Fruit: World Markets and Trade, FAS, USDA, 2010.
Created February 2006, revised April 2011 and revised June 2012.