April 4, 2024

Ag Economy

5 Takeaways from the 2024 Apple Outlook

By: Farm Credit East Knowledge Exchange


According to the USAppleTracker monthly storage report, November holdings were 191 million bushels – an all-time high, eclipsing the mark set during the 2014/15 season. U.S. apple production for the 2023/24 season was initially estimated at 256 million bushels, but storage data suggests it could be as high as 300-310 million bushels — a very large crop. What does this mean for the 2024 season?

Farm Credit East recently hosted a webinar with Chris Gerlach, USApple’s Director of Industry Analytics, to find out. Gerlach unpacked data on holdings, movement, trade and prices to see how markets are reacting to, what is by all accounts, a banner year. Following are the key takeaways from this webinar.

  1. Rising Labor Costs: Labor costs, especially for H-2A workers who hand-pick apples, have increased dramatically (63% over the past decade) and are becoming untenable for many growers. Reform to cap wage growth is urgently needed.
  2. Deflationary Pricing: Retail apple prices have dropped 11% so far this season due to the large supply, but grower prices have fallen even more sharply (21-46% for major varieties), squeezing profits.
  3. Export Opportunity: Exports, which help relieve domestic oversupply, are up 50% this year but still below past peak levels, with India remaining a major opportunity after trade tensions eased.
  4. International Competition: Imports of apples have fallen 50% over the past decade but remain around 5 million bushels per year, competing with domestic production.
  5. Government Support: USDA commodity purchases exceeding $100 million have helped absorb some excess supply this season.
As we head into the 2024 season, there is still uncertainty following concerns over an early bloom raising frost risk in some regions. Additionally, there are some concerns over high inventory, raising labor costs and deflationary pricing. However, the industry is working to right-size these challenges through exports, limiting imports and government purchases.

To dive deeper into the above topics, review the 60-minute webinar recording along with the presenters’ PowerPoint slides, or read Gerlach’s 2024 Apple Industry Outlook.

Tags: apple, outlook, ag economy, fruit

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