Revised December, 2017.
Apples are one of the most valuable fruit crops in the United States. The 2017 apple crop totaled just over 11.4 billion pounds, up 30 million pounds from 2016. The utilized apple crop was just over 11 billion pounds. (NASS 2018)
32 states in the United States raise apples commercially. The top ten apple producing states are Washington, New York, Michigan, Pennsylvania, California, Virginia, North Carolina, Oregon, Ohio and Idaho (U.S. Apple Association, 2018).
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 most consumed fruit in the U.S., followed closely by oranges. In 2015 the average U.S. per person consumption of all forms of apples had increased to about 28 pounds. The per person consumption of apple juice and cider decreased to 14 pounds. The consumption of fresh market apples in 2015 accounted for 10.7 pounds (ERS, 2015).
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.
The United States is the second largest apple producer worldwide, behind China. U.S. production is followed by Poland, Italy and France. The United States grows approximately 200 unique apple varieties. The top 10 varieties in the U.S. are Red Delicious, Gala, Granny Smith, Fuji, Golden Delicious, Honey Crisp, McIntosh, Rome, Cripps, Pink/Pink Lady and Empire (U.S. Apple Association, 2018).
The United States has 7,500 apple producers who grow, on average, 240 million bushels of apples each year. These producers grow the apples on an approximated 322 thousand acres of land (U.S. Apple Association, 2018).
Approximately one of every four apples that is grown in the United States is exported. Top export markets, in 2014/2015, included Mexico, Canada, India, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Thailand (U.S. Apple Association, 2018).
The United States does import fresh apples to make up for lack of production in the late season or before fall harvest. Many of these apples are imported from the Southern Hemisphere. Only five percent of the apples consumed in the United States are imported (U.S. Apple Association, 2018).
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.
U.S. Apple Association, 2018
Economic Research Service (ERS), 2015
E-stats, U.S. Census Bureau.
Global Agricultural Trade System, Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), USDA.
Noncitrus Fruits and Nuts, National Agricultural Statistics Service, USDA.
U.S. Wins WTO Case against Japan’s Restrictions on U.S. Apples, FASonline, Horticultural & Tropical Products Division, USDA.
Washington Apple Country History