For more than 5o years, the Red Delicious apple has been the most popular apple for consumers in the United States. Gracing lunch boxes and teachers’ desks nationwide, this ubiquitous apple is good for snacking and cooking. But according to the U.S. Apple Association, another apple is making its way to the top of the most popular apple list.
The organization recently held their 2018 Annual Crop Outlook and Marketing Conference in Chicago. During the meeting, they announced that the Gala apple is overtaking the Red Delicious as the most popular apple in America, with its production increasing almost 6 percent to 52.4 million units in 2018, passing Red Delicious production of 51.7 million units.
“The rise in production of newer varieties of apples aimed at the fresh consumption domestic market has caused demand for Red Delicious to decline,” according to Mark Seetin, USApple director of regulatory and industry affairs. “However, Red Delicious is important in the export market, where it makes up roughly half of our apple exports.”
Gala apples originated in New Zealand in the 1930s. While Red Delicious is still the most commonly known apple in the country, having been around since the 1870s and Gala has increased in popularity because consumers like its sweet flavor and crisp texture. Apple growers appreciate Gala because of its easy to grow and the trees produce a lot of apples.
For 2018, the most popular apple top 5 is: Gala, Red Delicious, Granny Smith, Fuji, and Honeycrisp. The Honeycrisp apple passed the Golden Delicious apple this year; the association is predicting that the Honeycrisp will be in third place in a year or two.
The rise of the Honeycrisp is evidence that more apple varieties are gaining popularity and that consumers are looking for a different kind of apple experience. Up until a couple of decades ago, the Red Delicious and Golden Delicious varieties were pretty much all you could find in grocery stores. Now, the number of popular varieties is growing as consumers learn about new and heirloom varieties of apples, including Jonagold, Fuji, Braeburn, and McIntosh apples.
The USApple 2018 production forecast is based on the U.S. Agriculture Department’s August crop forecast. The U.S. Apple Association represents 40 state and regional associations representing the 7,500 apple growers throughout the country, as well as more than 400 individual firms involved in the apple business. American apples are grown commercially in 32 states, with Washington, New York, and Michigan making up the top three apple-growing states.