Sounding Off On Record Purchase Of Apples

Recently USDA’s Agriculture Marketing Service announced the purchase of 34.9 million pounds of fresh apples and 16.1 million pounds of processed apple products. This purchase stems from a bonus buy request made by the U.S. Apple Association (USApple).

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contributorsThis is the third largest apple purchase on record by the USDA. These apples and apple products will be used to supplement USDA’s nutritional programs, including school lunches.

“Coming on the heels of what was likely the largest apple crop in U.S. history, this USDA purchase is welcome news and we thank the department for it,” Jim Bair, USApple president and CEO says. “Adding this action to USDA’s recent success in opening the China market for U.S. apples, it is an understatement to say we are grateful.”

Bair also tipped his hat to Mark Seetin, USApple’s director of regulatory and industry affairs, for helping secure the bonus buy.

“His initiative and hard work on this bonus buy are appreciated,” Bair says.

USDA expects the purchase announcement, soliciting offers to sell, will be published within a month.

American Fruit Grower® magazine reached out to its Editorial Advisory Board members and other industry experts to comment on this purchase and what it means for the future of the industry. Here’s what they had to say:

  • “USDA never learns. They knew in early November that there was record inventory. But, by the time the buy is implemented, most of the crop will have been sold, so the benefit to most growers will be minimal. This comment is not meant in any way to detract from credit due Mark Seetin and US Apple for winning this help.” — Desmond O’Rourke, publisher of World Apple Report
  • “A good thing given the increase in production and record-breaking 2014 crop. These apples are not going away magically. Let’s hope eating quality of all this fruit is at least very good, which might actually increase buying and eating apples. We are going to need this as the industry moves forward with newly planted, young orchards increasing in production.” — Jon Clements, University of Massachusetts Cooperative Extension farm advisor
  • “While the apple industry applauds the recent announcement by USDA to purchase fresh and processed apples to help manage the current supply of fruit, this is only a short-term remedy to a long-term situation. The long-term profitability of the industry needs to come from improved quality that increases consumption, expanded export markets, and a more managed supply.  The industry cannot sustain itself with current low prices and high input costs.” — Jim Allen, president of New York Apple Association
  • “Increasing apple purchases by the USDA for school lunches is a great idea, and about time. Motivating our kids to eat and enjoy more apples is the way to go. Nothing will increase demand for fresh apples more than kids asking Mom to buy more apples! Let’s make sure we are sending our best apples to the schools.” — Win Cowgill, area fruit agent for Rutgers Cooperative Extension

What do you think this means for the market? Join in the conversation by commenting on this article below.