United States. Dept. of Commerce and Labor United States. Bureau of Foreign Commerce.

Consular reports, Issues 196-199 online

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even below the prices of native fruit. But nothing can obscure the fact that
the victory has been one of superior quality rather than mere cheapness of
price, and there is an assuring prospect that the large importations of this
season have opened a permanent market for American apples in Germany.
It is therefore worth while to review some of the mistakes that have been
made by certain exporters in our country and point out the additional pre-
cautions that will be necessary to give the trade stability and lift it above
the character of a periodic and more or less uncertain speculation.

Taking into account the magnitude of the importations and the fact that
most of the fruit had been gathered, barreled, and sold in the principal
American markets without any special preparation for export, it must be
conceded that it has arrived for the most part in fairly good condition, at
least until the latter part of the shipping season. But since the middle of
December, a number of shipments have arrived in a wretched state — the
apples so rotten and crushed as to be wholly unsalable except for manufactur-
ing purposes and then at a serious loss to the importers. The agrarian press,
ever ready to find flaws in imported food products, has not failed to point
out and make the most of these defects, and by its strictures on American
methods of packing and shipment has pointed out the reforms that should be
made before the exports of another season are begun. The plain fact is
that apples hastily gathered, thrown into barrels, and hurried by rail to New
York and Boston are often in no proper condition to be exported to Europe,
and if the trade now so auspiciously opened is to be maintained and in-
creased, more careful methods of packing and preparation must be adopted.

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Germany has for many years imported apples in large quantities from the
Austrian Tyrol, and the contrast between the manner in which such fruit
and American apples are prepared for shipment and the condition in which
they respectively arrive and keep after arrival offers a striking and suggestive
lesson. Tyrolese apples, when intended for export, are carefully picked
by hand when dry, or if damp when gathered, are dried and are then laid by
hand closely in barrels lined with heavy manila paper. At the bottom and
top of the cask is placed a thick layer of "wood wool,'* or dry, soft straw,
and the barrel head being pressed down over this and fastened, the fruit is
held firmly by the pressure of these two elastic cushions so as to prevent the
loose rattling of one apple against another while in transit and the conse-
quent bruising that entails decay. Finally, holes are bored through the sides
and both heads of the cask to admit air, and in this condition apples from
the Alpine slopes are brought hundreds of miles by rail so free from injury
that they keep throughout the winter without being unpacked or opened.
They are beautiful to the eye, fair, rosy cheeked and firm of tissue, and
although distinctly inferior to the best American apples in juiciness, flavor,
and tenderness of pulp, they retail to-day in Frankfort at higher prices than
the Spitzenl)ergs, Baldwins, and Greenings from beyond the sea.

It is the opinion of fruit dealers here, who extol the rich flavor and gen-
eral excellence of American apples, that if they were gathered and put up
for export by the same methods and as carefully as those from the Tyrol
and northern Italy, they would from this time forward practically control
the imported -apple market in Germany. This special preparation would, of
course, cost both time and money, but the kind of labor required for such
a purpose should be plentiful and relatively inexpensive, even in the United
States, and its cost would be amply repaid by the higher prices that the care-
fully assorted and well-packed fruit would command abroad. The point
can not be too strongly emphasized that good packing is essential to success
in any export trade, and most of all where the merchandise exported is of
so perishable a nature as fresh fruit. In this, as in some other lines, Ameri-
can exporters are often forced to sell their goods when consigned abroad
more cheaply than should be necessary, in order to atone for defective pack-
ing and want of exact knowledge of the requirements of the foreign market.
It is not essential that American apples shall undersell the native fruit, pound
for pound, in the German markets, but it is of the first importance that they
shall be well selected, so that the contents of each barrel shall be of nearly
uniform size throughout, and so put up for export that the danger of bruis-
ing, heating, and decay while in transit shall be minimized. This much
guarantied, the inherent superiority of American apples, grown as they are
in a country where the sun shines throughout the summer and far into Octo-
ber, will give them an assured precedence over the comparatively sour, tough,
flavorless fruit grown under the gray, humid skies of northern Europe.

It is unfortunately beyond question that many hundreds of barrels of
American apples have been landed in Great Britain and Germany during the

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past season which should not have been exported at all — barrels with a
layer of good fruit at the top and bottom and the remainder filled with small,
gnarly windfalls, gritty with sand and bitten by insects and mice as they lay
on the ground, and showing every indication of having been shaken or
beaten from the trees and thrown into casks like cider apples into a mill.
In other cases, the barrels have been so scantily filled as to leave space for
the apples to jostle and beat against each other from the lurching of the
vessel at sea, or when rolled and handled in transshipment, with the inevit-
able results of bruising and premature decay. The tenderness of tissue
which forms a chief merit of most American apples, renders them delicate
and perishable as merchandise.

In a season when apples were so abundant and cheap in the United States
that the product of hundreds of orchards was left to rot ungathered, the
hasty, careless packing of fruit that could be sold in the great city markets
for only $1 or $1.50 per barrel can be readily understood, if not excused;
but surely apples in that condition should not in future be exported, at least
to a country where all imported food products are so carefully scrutinized as
in Germany.

The dried and canned fruits of California and the Atlantic States are now
firmly established here, their importation and consumption are increasing
steadily year by year, and with the wide and favorable introduction that
fresh American apples have obtained during the past season, it will require
only careful assorting and packing, with judicious management on the part
of exporters, to develop and retain for them in this country a permanent and
important market.


Frankfort, yanuaty 2j, i3g7. Consul- General.

The importation of American apples is interesting the whole German
Empire. Efforts are being made all over Germany to arouse interest against
our apples, as the most dangerous invaders. Fruit men complain of high
freight rates for fresh fruits. The hope that our fruits would be kept out,
because of heavy land and sea freight rates, has been changed to fear at the
evidence offered by the millions of bushels that in 1896 were sent to England
and the Continent. The keeping qualities of our best winter apples — Bald-
wins, Greenings, etc. — are subjects of astonishment. A writer in the Em-
pire's leading fruit journal doubts that they will keep six months, as claimed
by Consul-General de Kay. I have had them (Baldwins and Greenings)
keep nine months. England, according to this writer, took, ten years ago,
large quantities of fruit from Germany ; to-day she buys in Australia, Canada,
and the United States. Every effort is being made here to help the farmers.
No one seems to notice the wonderful changes taking place in the world's
methods and sources of supplying food. North German farmers hope to
hold the Empire*s markets against North and South America, Russia, Austria,

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and the East. It is no longer possible. Meats, grains, fruits, and raw ma-
terials for manufactures must be bought outside. In intensive, not extensive,
farming is hope for her agriculturists and horticulturists. The conservatism
of her rural population keeps her, not from learning, but from employing
the lessons dinned daily into their ears by the facts of trade. Writers never
tire of the refrain, ** The farmer must be saved ; his lot must be made better. "
But how? *'An increase of the net earnings of the farms is urgent if the
national weal is not to be materially injured.** These writers want farmers
to raise fruit and poultry. In this, they are wise, for both go well together,
and call for intensive rather than extensive work. The first factor in com-
peting with foreign fruits is reduced freight rates on German railroads for
the home product. The next best means is to produce fruit and fruit prod-
ucts enough to meet the home demand. The next factor is to find the seed
or kinds best suited to soil, climate, and other conditions, put them in, and
give them proper care. A "German American,** G. A. B. Grosser, of
Strigland Lodge, Sheridan, Oregon, who took a course here at an agricultural
school, is quoted as saying that recently Germany's technical training (sach-
gemass) puts her ahead of America in getting value out of, or giving value
to, her fruits. United States soil and sunshine put something into Baldwin,
Pippin, Porter, Sapson, Greenings, Nonesuch, and other apples in the United
States that all the technical training on earth will never supply. I have
eaten "wild*' apples in the United States with which those of the Tyrol
(Meran) could not compare in taste. Mr. Grosser, when told that Germans
had no hope of competing with our dried apples, informed the Obstmarkt
editor that Americans never dreamed of taking first-class fruit for making
dried fruit; that from 40 to 60 per cent were picked out for export as table
fruit. This may be so; but my own experieAce is against it.

The next great factor for fruit sellers is the packing. This, in my opinion,
is the factor for our people. The writer in the fruit journal referred to
(Obstmarkt) tells his readers how badly we pack. That we pack badly is
true; but that we pack as he says we do and that our barrels hold only
no pounds, as he claims, is not true. The fact that we bore no veatilation
holes in our barrels is based, according to his belief, on a desire to keep the
weight. This man is an editor and fruit authority. He praises the uni-
formity in size of our barrels, but urges his own people, in packing, to be
sure and ventilate by boring holes in top and bottom and on the sides.
Here all kinds of barrels, boxes, and baskets are used. Because of this,
numerous quarrels as to weight arise.

A new fruit barrel has been invented. It is too expensive for export.
It received a bronze medal from an agricultural organization. It consists of
two parts, which can be placed one on top of the other and bound firmly
together by four staves or tongues and sixteen screws inside. As soon as one
half is filled, a cover having holes in it is put on, this made firm, the other
half is added, made fast by means of the screws, staves, etc., and then filled.
Then follows the finishing work — putting pn of cover, hoops, etc. Cuts are

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made along the sides to let in air and let out the bad air, if any, from the
fruits. One of these barrels weighs 33 pounds and costs 90 cents. It offers
an idea for our fruit men in the matter of oranges, peaches, etc. It is thought
to be the best thing for its purpose in this Empire and is believed to be the
best thing of its kind on the Continent. In a lecture on how best to harvest,
select, keep, and pack seed fruit, the inventor of the barrel laid stress not
on his invention, but upon ventilation. In fact, he said boxes as well as
barrels were good for packing purposes, but that, for many reasons, especially
easy transportation, barrels are best. This new one, of course, comes too
high. Its only real recommendation is that it can be taken apart, that the
pressure is divided.

A leading lecturer on horticultural subjects. Dr. Stotzer, urges his people
to pack in excelsior (wood wool, he calls it), /. ^., he says the bottom of
baskets or barrels should have a layer of excelsior. The apples should be
wrapped in silk paper, etc. Now, all this, with our fruits, is not necessary.
If we have a layer of excelsior at the bottom, one at the top, and (perhaps
it would be worth trying), one or two such layers between, to distribute the
pressure, it will be enough. Our apples are naturally good "keepers.** To
pack every apple in excelsior and afterwards in paper would put them so
high that German housewives, noted for their economy, could never reach

The season here, especially for apples, pears, etc., is from the fall to
Christmas. After Christmas, little is done, and three weeks after, nothing.
This applies particularly to good table fruit for the vast middle class of the
Empire who buy for the winter's supply, both for eating raw and for making
preserves. This is the time for our apples — Baldwins, Pippins, Greenings, etc.

"Places in which to keep fruit, storehouses,*' says one of the writers from
whom I quote freely, "should be built toward the north, and should, if pos-
sible, be shaded on the other sides by trees or shrubbery. There should
be but one door, double, and on the north or northwest side. There
should be but one or two windows and these so managed as to permit of the
total exclusion of sunlight.** But as we know more about "keeping *' fruit
than these people, it is hardly necessary to describe their storehouses in detail.
They are best suited for the finest fruits. For fruits such as are to be sold
off in the "height** of the season, they are not necessary. The best tem-
perature for the fruit, according to experiments made here, is 5° to 8° Celsius,
/.^., 41° to 65° F.

"America,** says the Obstmarkt, "is our best teacher. Canada and
the United States grow only a few kinds.** Here follows a detailed de-
scription of California*s and the Pacific Slope's wonderful work in fruit
raising, especially plums. Pictures are drawn of what we and others are
doing and have done. It is not done to drive these people to despair;
that is not possible. It is to awaken a new life in an industry that for years
has been languishing. The results are justifying the efforts. In no branch
is more being done than along agricultural and horticultural lines. To beat

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out the foreign invaders and to build up their own orchards is the work
laid out. To do this they must get reduced transportation rates and fewer
and better kinds of trees. Not always those that bear most pay best ; only
good trees bring forth good fruit. The picking and selecting must be done
carefully. The poorer qualities must be made up into jellies, preserves, mar-
malades, dried and steamed, or pressed into cider. The barrels, baskets, or
boxes must be made more uniform and must be better suited for transporta-
tion, ventilation, and preservation. They must be light, cheap, and durable.
The fruit must be well packed. There must be better technical education
for the purpose of obtaining practical and scientific experts in this branch.
There must be a more intensive, reasonable, and, at the same time, extensive
cultivation in order that quality and quantity may be all that the markets
demand. This is the result of 1896*3 movement of American apples in these

Chemnitz, January 16 y iSgj. Consul,


I inclose an article from the Bradford Observer commenting on the im-
mense exportation to this country of American apples during the year 1896.

Bradford, January ig, iSgj. Consul,

[From the Bradford Observer, January 4, 1897.]

Messrs. Woodall & Co., of Liverpool, report that the first half of the apple season closed
on Saturday. During the past fourteen days the market has been oversupplied, some fruit
having to be carried over Christmas, there being absolutely no demand. This has since been
disposed of at miserable prices, consequent on the doubtful and bad condition, and holding
it for a longer period was impossible. The season to date will be memorable and one of
bitter experience to most. The stupendous receipts have completely dwarfed any previous
record, being 1,159,791 barrels, against 279,036 barrels for the same period last year. The
previous largest season was in 1891, when 596,003 barrels were received. These figures
refer to Liverpool alone, and usually represent the bulk of the shipments to Great Britain,
but this is not the case to the same extent this year, as the total receipts are over 2,200,000
barrels. London, which previously was comparatively an insignificant receiver, has had
nearly 500,000 barrels, while Glasgow has taken about 355,000 barrels, and shipments have
l)een made to other ports where it was thought possible an outlet might be found. The
Liverpool figures are, of course, immensely over any other port, and represent, from the 1st
of September to the 31st of December, a supply of over 9,000 barrels daily. The largest
was in the week ended 24th of October, when 107,782 barrels arrived, and the supply during
that month was over 12,000 barrels daily. The previous largest total import recorded was in
1891-92, when 1,450,000 barrels were received, so that in the first half of this season the im-
ports to Great Britain are an excess of over 500,000 barrels above the total imports of any
other previous entire season.

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Prominence is purposely given to these statistics, not only to point out the continuous and
excessive quantity received into Liverpool from the very commencement, but particularly to
impress the fact that the distributing i)ower of this port has been severely tried by directly
supplying markets small and great which hitherto were very useful consumers. Not only has
Liverpool received double the quantity ever known, but the markets from whence assistance
was to be expected have also been glutted beyond requirements. The reason for thus glut-
ting the country appears fairly obvious. America and Canada were known to have large
apple crops, and were overrun by agents giving fabulous reports of the capacity of European
markets, many of them giving prospects which were utterly without foundation. It was re-
l>eatedly asserted that 80,000 to 90,000 barrels weekly could be taken, and also that a total
for the season of 3,000,000 barrels might be shipped and return satisfactory prices. It has
however, been proved by past experience that a short European crop does not require to be
replaced by foreign supplies, except to a very limited extent, and where the shortage is gen-
erally the greatest it is scarcely replaced at all. Experience, on the other hand, has also
shown that a large English crop does not prevent a considerable demand for American and
Canadian apples; and to those who have watched, it is a known fact that when the fruit ar-
rives the bome growths become, through comparative inferiority, almost valueless.

The season opened unusually early, and at once commenced with thousands of barrels,
where formerly hundreds came forward, and consisted of early varieties which are not suf-
ficiently good to attract a demand. In September, there is nearly always a sufficiency of
similar quality of English growth, and this was the position this year. During all the month
and most of October shipments were made in very hot weather, with the result that they
landed' in poor condition, but returns were sufficiently satisfactory to induce a continuance, as
the fruit had little or no value at \x)T{s of shipment. Immature winter Baldwins and Green-
ings arrived about the middle of September, and continued to increase in quantity each week
until the third week in October, when the receipts had touched 475,616 barrels. All this
fruit was common, immature, and small, and prices realized can only have been unsatisfactory,
especially the later sales. In the last week there was some improvement in quality and con-
dition, as properly matured winter stock was then arriving, and the general condition being
good, there was a more active demand, and prices advanced is. to 2s. per barrel. Everyone
was inspired with the hope and expectation of better prospects and remunerative returns.
This, to a great extent, was realized, and the first three weeks of November were the only
fairly bright period of the season. Toward the end of the month disappointment again com-
menced, the continuous heavy receipts, added to a falling off in both condition and quality,
causing a depression. The position was further aggravated at this period by withdrawal of
continental orders through labor troubles at Hamburg, which still continue. Condition and
quality to the end have been variable and unsatisfactory, and in Christmas week apples be-
came almost unsalable, many sales not realizing sufficient to cover freight and expenses.
Taking the crop as a whole, it compares unfavorably with those of previous large years, and
a prominent feature has been the large quantity of very common apples, which should never
be shipped in seasons of plenty ; this particularly applies to much that has come from Boston.
Newtown Pippins have only come forward in moderate quantities, and, although no very
high prices were made, results were generally satisfactory, except for a few which arrived after
the holiday demand was supplied. The top price of the season was 39s. 6d. per barrel.
The prospects for the future in the existing depressed situation may by some be looked upon
with dismay, for which there is no real occasion, as the causes are natural, and nothing
different could have been expected on a market which, for a considerable period, has been
glutted with unattractive and out-of-condition fruit. European requirements during the spring
of 1897 will be very large, and the general outlook could not be better, but shippers should
thoroughly understand that only really good, sound stock will be wanted, and that the markets
are not prepared to take quantities such as have lately come forward. The probable weekly
recjuirements, to return remunerative prices, should be about 35,000 barrels, and at the utmost
should not exceed 50,000 barrels.

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The latest thing with which the markets of Europe are literally inundated
by the New World belongs to the lovers of apples. One million seven
hundred thousand barrels of apples for Europe! With these words, Broker
Brown announces to lovers of fruit, both small and great, that America, dur-
ing the past year, exported 250,000 more barrels of apples to Europe than
ever before in one season. The exportation, moreover, may still continue
on a large scale, as our principal competitor in the British apple market, viz,
Canada, will not be very well represented there hereafter. The (for us) new
varieties of apples meet with a ready sale, owing to their cheapness and their
good quality, and here in Prague, where, as in Austria generally, they were
placed on the market last spring for the first time, they have already become
very popular, although their price with us has been out of proportion — higher
than in Vienna, for instance. While, according to reports from the capital
of the Empire, American apples were sold there during Christmas week for
20 kreutzers per kilogram, the same quantity could not be had in Prague for
less than 35 kreutzers. The sale of American apples in Prague, which in
itself furnishes honorable evidence of the practical character of our antipodes,
becomes more interesting from the fact that an opportunity has been offered
of admiring the regard felt by the Americans for honest work, by whatever
name it may be known. The American consul here has undertaken the very
commendable task of personally promoting the sale of fruit imported from
his native country. The new American article of export seems to us to be

Online LibraryUnited States. Dept. of Commerce and Labor United States. Bureau of Foreign CommerceConsular reports, Issues 196-199 → online text (page 58 of 82)