As we often say, boosting apple consumption is a goal everyone supports. We all know apples are extremely healthy, and preferable to other popular snacks like candy and chips. Plus, they’re high in fiber which can help apple-eaters feel fuller than alternatives with “empty” calories – clearly a major benefit with the obesity crisis.
The produce industry’s challenge is to make consumers actually want to eat more, not have it be a chore. And for the apple industry, the need to boost consumer interest in eating more apples is perhaps more important than for any other fruit or vegetable.
While applicable to both the U.S. and Canada, for simplicity let’s focus on the United States, which has the second highest apple production in the world. There’s likely no region in the entire world better suited to growing apples than Washington State in particular, which produces nearly 2/3rds of U.S. apples each year. Well, Washington is on the verge of shattering their current record of 128 million boxes of apple production in a year, with a recent article estimating ~150 million boxes for 2014 (and others suggesting as high as 160 million)!
This same article discusses the tough challenges that come with marketing a crop of such a size, and it’s not like this is a one-in-a-million year. Going forward, apple production in the U.S. should continue to climb for a wide variety of reasons, especially growers’ ability to produce more fruit using less land thanks to technological and agronomic improvements.
Additionally, apples are already one of the most wasted foods on the planet, with around 40% of what’s produced never getting consumed, and reducing food waste is an issue of increasing importance across the globe. So, not only is there motivation to boost apple consumption for the sake of consumer health, there’s also a need to boost demand to match increasing supply.
A core focus for apple producers has always been determining which new varieties or market segments will be making up bigger or smaller pieces of “the pie” going forward. However, in the big picture it’s clear that the most essential goal of all is finding ways to make the whole pie bigger!
While one key strategy is to look to export markets, there’s no doubt that boosting consumption domestically is of benefit to everyone. Introducing exciting new varieties and products can be a huge part of this, so check out last week’s post if you missed it, as we highlighted some forward-thinking members of the apple industry who are doing just that!