(Oct. 7) Mexico, the top export market for American apple growers, has again put on the brakes for imports of U.S. red and golden delicious apples.

In an announcement published Sept. 29 in Mexico’s Diario Oficial, or federal register, Mexico’s Secretariat of Economy announced preliminary anti-dumping duties against red and golden delicious apple varieties from the U.S. Northwest.

The preliminary anti-dumping duty was put at 44.77%, just slightly below a duty of 46.58% that had been in place from August 2002 through late May.

The action could slow U.S. apple shipments to Mexico, which had shown exceptional demand for Washington apples since May.

U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics show that U.S. apple exports to Mexico totaled just more than 100,000 metric tons during January through July this year, up from 59,000 metric tons in the same period in 2004.

Of the 104 million-carton 2004 Washington apple crop, Miles Kohl, executive director of the Yakima Valley Growers-Shippers Association, Yakima, Wash., said Mexico took 8.25 million cartons, or about 7.6%.

The No. 2 market, Canada, imported 5.3 million cartons of Washington apples in 2004-05, he said.

Washington red delicious shipments to Mexico totaled 3.7 million cartons during the 2004-05 season, compared with 2.8 million for golden delicious, 1.3 million for galas and 240,000 boxes for granny smith.

Washington apple exporters shipped about 4.6 million cartons of apples to Mexico from last fall to May 16, Kohl said, and more than 3.5 million cartons between late May and late September.

There may be less pressure to move big volume of Washington apples to Mexico this season. Kohl said the fresh packout of Washington apples is expected to be in the range of 85 million to 90 million cartons for 2005. Shipments to Mexico won’t begin for a few weeks. Phytosanitary requirements dictate that U.S. apples must be held in cold storage for 60 days before being shipped to Mexico.

The red delicious crop could be down 15% to 20%, said Chris Falk, salesman for Washington Fruit & Produce Co., Yakima.

That should translate to higher prices for reds this season, though increased volume of second- and third-grade reds will help supply the market. Golden delicious harvest has been running somewhat above expectations with a good range of sizes preferred by Mexican buyers anticipated.

The f.o.b. price for top grade Washington red delicious apples, size 72, was $15-16 per carton on Oct. 3, down slightly from $16.50 per carton the same time last year.

BACKGROUND

Mexico’s earlier 46.58% anti-dumping duty was dropped for Northwest U.S. exporters in late May after a Mexican court suspended it in response to a motion filed by the Northwest Fruit Exporters, Yakima.

Growers in other states that export apples to Mexico — Michigan, Virginia and California — continue to be subject to the 46.58% duty.

However, another Mexican court on May 26 authorized the reopening of the dumping investigation on U.S. red and golden delicious.

In the Sept. 29 announcement, Mexico announced three Washington packinghouses were exempt from the preliminary assigned duty of 44.67% based on their submissions of sales data from 1994-1996, which was the initial period for the dumping investigation.

The announcement said Allan Bros. Inc., Naches, Wash., received an assigned duty of 10.53%; Price Cold Storage and Packing Co. Inc., Yakima, Wash., was assigned a 0% duty; and Zirkle Fruit Co., Selah, Wash. was assigned a duty of 2.01%.

Meanwhile, other Yakima, Wash.-based companies that were exempted from the previous anti-dumping duty because of data they submitted also are exempt from the new duty:

  • Washington Export LLC

  • Borton & Sons Inc.

  • Evans Fruit Co. Inc.

  • 11R Sales Inc.

  • C.M. Holtzinger Fruit Co.

  • Washington Fruit and Produce Co.



A report from the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service said several other companies’ applications for exemption from the duty or a lower duty were turned down because the documentation they provided was lacking data from the 1994-96 dumping investigation period.

The Sept. 29 announcement in Mexico’s federal register also adds a new demand for Northwest U.S. apple exporters. Mexico’s Secretariat of Economy requested sales data from the period from Jan. 1, 2004, to June 30, 2005. That data must be submitted by late October, according to a Sept. 30 report from the USDA’s FAS.

Falk of Washington Fruit & Produce Co. — one of the companies exempted from the anti-dumping duty — said the company doesn’t believe it has to gather sales statistics for the dumping investigation that runs from early 2004 to mid 2005.

“I’m not aware of anything right now, but it is not set in stone,” he said. “They are just trying to find a way to survive.”