How many bad apples? Mountains of fruit set to rot as prices collapse

While the farmers and dealers are still desperate to get rid of their apples from last year, the more they sell, the more they lose .

Photo by ZHAO Xiaojuan

Photo by ZHAO Xiaojuan

By ZHAO Xiaojuan


At his warehouse Shanxi Province, JIA Zhibin looked on miserably as 2,000 tons of apples were packed and shipped to Yunnan Province on June 1. “The more I sell, the more I lose,” he said.

Shanxi is famous for growing apples, ten percent of all Fuji apples in the domestic market come from here. Jia bought the apples from farmers at 5.2 yuan (US$0.80) per kilogram. He sold them now for 1.2 yuan to e-commerce platforms.

Prices before Spring Festival, the peak season for apple sellers, were not as good as last year. Prices and demand fell, while the pandemic raised transportation costs for all fruit. After the spring festival, the price continued to fall and has fallen ever since.

Facing the prospect of making a loss, sellers put their apples in storage, but as time went by, they became edgy. Storage costs a fortune, and the quality of the fruit falls every day.

According to CCTV, the market in Yantai, the main apple-producing area in Shandong Province, has been the weakest in history. A fruit seller from the Xinfadi market in Beijing said he was busy selling seasonal fruit such as apricots and nectarines and had no time to worry about apples stored in a warehouse.

Apple prices vary a lot, from place to place and even store to store. Some prices are less than even one yuan, but bigger apples sell for up to 2.5 yuan. At this time of year,  customers are much more interested in seasonal fruits, such as apricots and lychee.

A corporate buyer from Shenzhen said that the apple was overstocked and sellers were basically losing up to 3 yuan per kilogram.

At the end of June, a new crop will be on the market and whatever is stored will basically lose all value putting many in deep financial difficulty, and opening the way for a new round of mergers and acquisitions.