Canada’s imports of fresh apples in the 2016/17 marketing year are set to slip 2% on the previous year to about 225,000 tons.
A recent GAIN report also says that based on forecasts from a USDA post in Canada, the US, Canada’s main supplier of fresh apples, will retain a stable market share of about 80% of those imports.
Canada’s fresh apple production for the 2016/17 marketing year (July to June) is expected to rise 11% to 375,000 tons.
“As the planted area remained unchanged from the previous year, this production increase is attributable to an overall good growing season in Ontario and British Columbia, two of the major apple producing provinces in Canada. However, a dry summer and blight have negatively impacted the production in Eastern Canada, particularly in Quebec and Nova Scotia.
“Over the past fifteen years, fresh apple production in Canada has slowly declined, consistent with reduced planted areas and reduced profitability of apple cultivation. However, data for the recent years seem to indicate that the sector has now stabilized, as growers have learned what production level is most economical and profitable,” the report says.
Canada’s apple industry was forced to downsize due to more affordable imports from the US, Chile and other low cost countries, as well as its high production costs and a strong Canadian dollar.
“Many apple growers responded to the evolving market situation by converting orchards over to new plantings of vinifera grapes (especially in British Columbia and Ontario) and other fruits, as well as by turning land over for new housing development projects,” the report says.
Growers planning to stay in the industry are turning to newer, more popular varieties such as Ambrosia and Honeycrisp and new, modern intensive planting systems.
Meanwhile, Canadian apple consumers are trending away from some of the more traditional varieties, such as the McIntosh, which was once the most popular apple variety there.
According to the Ontario Apple Growers Association, these days one in every three apples eaten in Ontario is a Gala, most likely grown in Washington state or Chile.
Canada’s fresh apple exports are expected to inch up 2% to 35,000 tons in 2016/17.
“In general, the export volumes of the past several years represent about one-third of what Canada used to export over a decade ago. Canadian exports of fresh apples have steadily declined over the last 10-15 years, reflecting the overall decline in production and reduced profitability and competitiveness in export markets.”
Source: Canada Fresh Deciduous Fruit Annual 2016, GAIN Report CA16051, 11/1/2016