Knowledge Exchange

Ag Economy

Fruit

Apples

  • The 2021 growing season started with many challenges. Coming off a large 2020 crop which suffered from drought conditions the 2021 season started early and dry. Pollination was questionable for some varieties with cool weather being seen across the region. Coming out of bloom, the fruit set looked reasonable but warm dry weather added with chemical thinners made for a large fruit drop.
  • The fresh fruit apple crop looks close to average with the exception being some poor Honeycrisp blocks. If the dry weather persists it will negatively affect fruit size. The processing apple crop is not as promising. The Ida Red crop is considerably below average. Romes and Goldens thinned excessively in some situations. We are hearing estimates of the processing crop being
    60%-70% of an average crop.
  • Markets for apples should be strong. Fresh apple movement has been good and packers should work through inventories early. The processing market is consuming apples at an increased rate and most will struggle to make it to new crop before running out of supply. The Michigan apple crop seems to be considerably below normal volume. We expect demand to be greater than supply but some are worried that pricing will fall below demand. The lack of competition in the processing apple marketplace continues to put downward pressure on pricing as larger firms look for ways to shave costs.
  • Apples have generally been moving well from storage. U.S. fresh-market holdings of 40.1 million boxes as of June 1 are 1.8% greater than the 5-year average holdings of 39.4 million, and less than the 2020 levels.
  • Total Northeast apple holdings of 4.3 million boxes as of June 1 are 11.7% greater than the 5-year average.
  • U.S. apple exports are running slightly lower y-o-y, and below the 5-year average.1

Wine & Craft Beverage

  • Wineries in the Finger Lakes region of NY report continued strong sales despite what appears to be a permanent change in the way tastings are conducted. Many wineries no longer offer “stand-up” tastings. In addition to strong y-o-y sales, the post pandemic boom of tourism seems to be helping as well. Not all wineries are adapting well to the changes, and a minority of wineries are likely to have bad results for 2020 and some lingering effects into 2021. However, most wineries have been able to adapt and have seen very good crowds. On the grape side, despite a few weather scares, the 2021 crop is off to a good start.

Small Fruits and Cranberries

  • Strawberry peak season was very good with strong demand and good pricing and yields.
  • For cranberry sales, 2020 was a record-breaking year with increased consumer in-home consumption. 2021 is seeing a bit of a slowdown as COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted, but sales remain above 2019 levels. Ocean Spray reports a 28.5% increase in juice sales from 2019, but only 1.1% higher for dried fruits. A dry start to the year could impact the 2021 crop.

1 USApple Market News