George Adrian is a third generation apple farmer in Indianapolis. He said you can blame higher apple prices on a crazy weather year.
“It was the perfect storm of bad weather,” said Adrian, owner of Adrian’s Orchard. “We couldn’t keep the trees alive here.”
A mild Winter and early Spring had the apple trees in bloom earlier than usual. Then in April, a cold snap happened at the worst time possible. Most of his crop was wiped out.
“The Midwest was basically frozen out,” Adrian said. “The entire eastern half of the United States had a very short crop. We had a 20 percent crop of our own. A lot of places have nothing.”
Adrian actually had to make a trip to Washington State to buy apples to get him through the rest of the season.
“The West Coast has a big crop,” Adrian said.
He said because all the apples are out West this year, they are at a premium.
“Because of supply and demand,” said Adrian. “They raised the prices and with the diesel to ship them here and the doubled (bushel) prices, that’s why the prices are so high.”
He said consumers have seen prices go up by 100 percent for some varieties like the Honey Crisp Apples.
“Very expensive,” Adrian said. “We’re selling them here for over $100 a bushel.”
A bushel is about 100 apples.
Smaller, local growers like Adrian Orchards are having a hard time in this apple economy. But, big grocery store chains like Kroger are able to ease the pain a bit and keep prices down.
“We have backup supplies,” said John Elliott with Kroger Public Affairs. “We have long term supplier relationships so we transitioned very quickly to the supplier in Washington State.”
But, the price of apples still went up.
“So you saw a price increase in the Fall and that same price increase has held level up to today and probably through the rest of the season,” said Elliott.
The season is over for Adrian Orchards. Adrian said he’s closing up shop at the end of the week and will make apple cider with what he doesn’t sell and look to next year.
“I’m hoping it’s going to be a little better than the last couple of years,” said Adrian. “It’s cycles. We’ve been through this before.”