Higher energy costs have been a consistent price driver in both the apple and apple juice markets throughout 2022, as growers face higher production costs, weighing on profit margins. While energy prices have started to decline from the peak in Q2 2022, the costs of fertiliser, gas, petrol, and electricity remain significantly higher year-on-year (y-o-y).
In the EU, some apple growers are opting not to harvest their full crop due to the unaffordable storage costs, which is expected to impact apple supplies later in the 2022/23 season. Alternatively, many growers are diverting more (lower quality) apples to the processing sector, only storing apples of the highest quality. As a result, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the use of apples for processing across the EU is expected to increase by 12.5% y-o-y in the 2022/23 MY, with a rise expected in Poland, Germany, Austria and France. This could lead to higher supplies of apple concentrate for the 2022/23 season, potentially easing additional upward price momentum.
However, due to the lower apple quality, a higher proportion of apples will be required to produce the same quantity of juice, potentially offsetting the lower initial raw material cost per apple. Additionally, the cost of production for apple juice processors has risen significantly. The process of creating apple juice is extremely energy-intensive, with electricity needed for crushing and washing before juice extraction, then the subsequent storage, sterilisation and cooling processes. As a result, some processing facilities in China halted production earlier than usual in the season, to prevent paying the high costs, thus leading to lower supply and pushing prices higher. Chinese apple juice prices in the US rose by 10.3% month-on-month (m-o-m) in November 2022 and up 27.15% y-o-y to USD 12.84/US Gallon. As the season progresses, the impact and response to higher costs will be a key watch out factor for both apple and apple concentrate prices.