Capital press. (Salem, OR) 19??-current, April 15, 2016, Page 5, Image 5

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April 15, 2016
Growers worry big apple crop could topple prices
Capital Press
Capital Press
Dan Wheat/Capital Press
Kanzi apple trees are shown in full bloom in Mt. View Orchard, East Wenatchee, Wash., on April 11.
Early bloom means an early crop is likely.
Average wholesale asking
prices of size 88, extra-fan-
cy grade on Gala, Red Deli-
cious and Golden Delicious
on April 8 were the same as
a month ago and two months
ago, according to USDA Mar-
ket News.
Gala was $34 to $36.90 per
40-pound box. Red Delicious
was $18 to $20.90 and Gold-
ens were $26 to $28.90.
Fuji continued to climb on
the low end at $34 to $36.90,
up from $32 to $36.90 a
month ago and $30 to $36.90
two months ago.
Granny Smith dropped to
$22 to $24.90 from $24 to
$26.90 the prior two months.
Cripps Pink was unchanged
from a month ago at $30 to
$34.90 which was down from
$32 to $36.90 two months
Honeycrisp was not report-
ed, having mostly sold out.
Prices have averaged $26
per box across all varieties
and sizes at extra-fancy grade
the last four weeks, O’Rourke
Riggan said he thinks heat
damage, which held the 2015
crop down in size, will con-
tinue to shrink the crop by 1
million to 1.5 million boxes.
Fuji prices will keep improv-
ing because of low inventory
while the prices of other vari-
eties will stay flat to the end of
May and then increase some,
Riggan said.
Shipments were heavy
from December through
March as companies were
determined to keep invento-
ry at levels that help prices,
O’Rourke said. Shipments
ran about 2.4 million boxes
per week through March, he
As of April 1, 42 million
boxes were left in storage
compared with 56.7 million a
year ago, a drop of 26 percent.
“A larger share of the
crop has been shipping each
month up to this point. They
got burned so badly last year
with the huge holdings that
they’ve really been moving
it,” he said.
Gala, Reds and Goldens all
could gain in price in the next
few months as inventories
continue to decline, he said.
The push has been domes-
tically because a strong dollar
relative to foreign currencies
has hampered exports, which
are down 30 percent from last
year, with 20 million boxes
shipped versus 29.3 million.
The largest export market,
Mexico, is down 37.5 percent
at 4.3 million boxes. India is
down 50 percent at 1.3 million
boxes and Canada is down 22
percent at 3.3 million. China
shines in the positive at 1.1
million boxes, up 58 percent,
but last year only Reds and
Goldens were allowed in.
Report: U.S. needs to reinvest
in international food production
The Washington apple indus-
try is poised to finish sales of
its 2015 crop at strong pric-
es over the next four to five
months, but the big worry is
whether another huge crop
this fall will cause prices
to plummet, as occurred in
Prices hit eight-year lows
a year ago and many growers
lost money. No one wants to
see a repeat of that, said Des-
mond O’Rourke, a retired
Washington State University
agricultural economist and
longtime observer of the ap-
ple industry.
“We hear some pretty
large numbers. Anywhere
from 130 million to 145
million boxes,” said Tom
Riggan, general manager of
Chelan Fresh Marketing in
Selling a large crop is al-
ways a concern, but there are
a lot of factors, including the
world market, Riggan said.
In 2012, Washington had a
banner year with a huge crop
because crops elsewhere
were small.
The 2015 crop was pegged
at 116.1 million, 40-pound
boxes by Washington State
Tree Fruit Association’s April
1 storage report, compared to
the record 143.6 million for
2014. At one point, that crop
was 155 million boxes before
cullage and dumping reduced
its size.
Weather could hold the
2016 crop in check, O’Ro-
urke said.
Right now, wholesale
prices of main varieties of
the 2015 harvest are strong
and largely unchanged for the
second month in a row.
A new report from the Chi-
cago Council on Global Af-
fairs says it is in the national
security interest of the U.S. to
lead a massive, international
reinvestment in food produc-
tion systems.
The report, “When Hunger
Strikes: How Food Security
Abroad Matters for National
Security at Home,” argues that
food price increases and scar-
city are a catalyst to civil un-
rest, especially in the Middle
East, sub-Saharan Africa and
parts of Asia.
Author Cullen Hendrix, a
University of Denver research-
er, said food price protests top-
pled governments in Haiti and
Madagascar in 2007 and 2008,
and were one of the “major
drivers” of unrest during the
“Arab Spring” uprisings.
Food insecurity is a central
point of the civil war and ref-
ugee crisis in Syria, he said.
Two years of severe drought in
agricultural areas sent people
packing to Syrian cities, where
they were under-served by the
Assad regime, Hendrix said.
In the chaos, terrorist
groups such as ISIS even use
the promise of food as a re-
cruiting tool.
“The allure of three square
meals a day while participat-
ing in (ISIS) activities is ap-
pealing, especially if you’re
a marginalized young man,”
Hendrix said in an interview.
Elsewhere, surveys of for-
mer fighters in Sierra Leone
and Rwanda showed that many
had been farmers, and the
promise of food was a common
enticement used to recruit rebel
In addition to a “moral call
to help the hungry,” the U.S.
is best positioned to lead the
fight against global hunger, he
said. The United States should
rededicate itself to ag research,
knowledge and technology
transfer and developing ag-
ricultural capacity abroad to
“decouple” food systems from
violent unrest, he said. At the
local and regional level, such
engagement means expanded
export markets for American
Global population increas-
es, climate change and rapid
urbanization of farmland pose
additional problems, Hendrix
Hendrix acknowledged the
issue doesn’t get much dis-
cussion in the current political
campaign, or even from agri-
cultural groups. That might be
because the issue exists at the
intersection of international
development policy, security
and intelligence concerns, and
the viewpoint of ag producer
“This kind of thing has the
potential to fall through the
cracks,” he said.
However, the U.S. has a
“long bipartisan history of rec-
ognizing that feeding the world
— and helping the world to
feed itself — is a powerful for-
eign policy tool,” he concluded.
Hendrix’s other points in-
• Much of Africa and Asia
are increasingly dependent on
global markets for food. Afri-
ca’s 20 most populous coun-
tries are all net grain importers.
• In Asia, 50 percent of the
population still lives in rural ar-
eas. While two of the most pop-
ulous countries, Thailand and
Vietnam, are large rice ex-
porters, the region as a whole
is import-dependent.