Red Delicious apples harvested in Naches, Washington, in October. Red Delicious is popular in Indian markets, but with so many Washington growers replacing their Red Delicious blocks with other varieties, exporters will have to diversify their offerings.
For the first time in four years, U.S. shippers began selling apples to India in significant amounts.
Washington exporters were encouraged by the number of shipments already made from the 2023–24 crop when Good Fruit Grower reached out in November. They were also hopeful about the long-term prospects of re-entering the Indian market, but they weren’t expecting sales to return to the volumes seen before U.S. apples were caught up in a tariff dispute — back when they shipped 8 million boxes to India.
“The days of shipping that many apples are over,” said Steve Reinholt, export sales manager for Oneonta Starr Ranch Growers. “We have to claw our way back into the market. It’s going to take time.”
As of Nov. 15, Washington state had shipped 306,465 40-pound boxes to India. By that point in 2022, the state had shipped 5,315 boxes, said Washington Apple Commission President Todd Fryhover.
This season’s large apple crop — estimated as the second largest on record, with some 140 million boxes harvested — means breaking back into the Indian market is imperative, apple commission board members said at their October meeting.