Apples to apples, how does this season compare with a year ago?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently publised the U.S. city average for retail red delicious prices in September.

The numbers show that the average retail price for red delicious apples in September was $1.51 per pound, up from $1.26 per pound at the same time last year but down slightly from $1.53 per pound in August.

Meanwhile, I see that data from the USDA's National Retail Report is now being made available through the USDA portal, which allows the user to select items from the database to compare. Here is a spreadsheet showing the Oct. 14 retail report for apples. Note that the number of promotions and the weighted average promotion price for red delicious apples are quite similar to year ago levels.

Also, I see that the honey crisp apples are being promoted quite aggressively, at a reported average of about $2 per pound in mid-October.

At shipping point, the USDA reports that f.o.b. prices for Washington red delicious (and other varieties) are still elevated compared wtih year-ago levels. Mid-October prices of red delicious 72s were reported at $26-28 for best quality fruit compared with $18-20 per carton the same time a year ago. Here is a spreadsheet with Washington price comparisons compared with a year ago.

How does the apple season this year compare with last year through the same period? This spreadsheet recounts USDA shipments figures from mid-August to mid-October for the 2011 crop and and the 2010. My reading of the numbers reveals that total apple shipments so far this season total about 20.13 million cartons, compared with about 24.6 million cartons through the same time last year.

I would think the industry must be pleased with f.o.b. pricing and retail promotion. However the shortfall in movement compared with a year ago could create more pressure to move the fruit later in the year.