The U.S. imported 40.4 million single-strength-equivalent gallons of apple juice in May, down 18 percent from May 2017. Average concentrate pricing spiked in May to over $7.00 per gallon, the highest level in two years. AJC pricing has been on the rise for most of the season, driven by sharply lower European production and more competition for China’s supply. From August through May, China provided almost 80 percent of U.S. 2017/18 AJC imports, compared to two-thirds in 2016/17 to date. With the price of substitutable juice also high, the U.S. has had to accept the higher AJC pricing; cumulative Aug-May imports were down less than 1 percent from last season to date, due to January’s noticeable jump in imports as buyers tried to get ahead of the expected price increases.
As 2017/18 winds down, Chinese AJC stocks are very low, and the 2018/19 apple crop is expected to be down about 25 percent from this season due to damage from spring frosts. Poland’s crop has bounced back from last year’s destruction, however, and may be headed to a record harvest. If pricing is right, AJC from Europe could take some demand from China next season. The recent drop in white grape concentrate pricing may also help limit AJC price increases.
Monthly U.S. apple juice imports, by season
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