The Chinese government approved market access to Northwest apples Wednesday after a two-year market closure.
Getting access to China is essentially a $50 million per year deal for Washington apple farmers. The Chinese government closed off markets in August of 2012. China said it was concerned about a recently discovered fungus.
Northwest apple shipments slowed, but didn’t stop. Many Washington apples were routed through Hong Kong, where they journeyed on to China in the grey market.
Now, after two years of negotiations and checks on Washington soil by government officials, the market is open to Washington’s red and golden delicious varieties. Washington apple farmers are hoping that in January, China might even increase access to its markets to include all Washington varieties like Fujis, Galas and Granny Smiths.
To get Chinese customers palates primed for the incoming new fruits, the Apple Commission is planning tastings at top markets there.