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US fruit growers: new customers

Worldwide customers shopping at the stand of Uncle Sam, Green Grocer, are changing. The traditional buyers, Europe and Canada, have had to pare back their grocery lists because of sluggish economies and currency depreciation. Fortunately for the nation's fruit growers, the slack left by the Europeans and Canadians this year was picked up by Japan, Hong Kong, Latin American, and the Middle East.

Yearly figures recently released on fruit sales ending June 1981 show apple exports up 29 percent, pears up 12 percent, and grapefruit up 11 percent. Fresh lemon exports increased nominally with US oranges listing a 5 percent export decline.

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Over half of the grapefruit exported (52 percent) was bought by Japan - a 10 percentage point increase over 1980 purchases. Belgium, Sweden, and France were also substantial buyers, filling a new European demand for Sunbelt pinks.

Exports from the bumper US apple crop did go to old-time buyers - the United Kingdom, France, and Sweden. But the export bulge came from orders in Far East and Middle East countries which took almost half of the 300,000 metric-ton export apple crop. Hong Kong and Latin America, too, increased their share purchases.

Canada, largest buyer of pears from the US, dropped its orders by 20 percent. But again, the Far East and Middle East countries doubled their previous years' requirements. And Latin America's share increased by over 40 percent.

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