"An apple a day keeps the doctor away," is an old proverb that many people still adhere to today. After all, the nutritious fruit provides fiber, multiple vitamins, and essential minerals to those that eat one.
For more than 50 years, Americans' go-to apple was the Red Delicious, but this year the Gala apple is taking over as the new favorite.
There are more than 100 tasty apple varieties grown in the United States every year, but at the U.S. Apple Association's 2018 Annual Crop Outlook and Marketing Conference in Chicago on August 23, Gala apples were forecasted to be the top-produced variety of the fruit for the year. Red Delicious apples fall to the No. 2 position, followed by Granny Smith, Fuji, and Honeycrisp.
"Measured in 42-pound units, Gala production is estimated to jump from 49.5 million units in 2017 to 52.4 million in 2018, edging out Red Delicious, whose production is expected to decrease from 57.9 million in 2017 to 51.7 million in 2018," the organization said.
The New York Apple Association said that the crisp and juicy Gala is a "great choice for snacking" because of its size and "mild flavor that 'picky eaters' prefer, plus a striking bright yellow-red color that also makes it visually appealing." The state known as the "Big Apple" produces the fresh fruit from September through June.
A cross between Kidd's Orange Red and Golden Delicious, the Gala apple got its name after Queen Elizabeth II called it her favorite during a visit to New Zealand, where the variety originated. They were brought over to the United States in the early 1970s.
"The rise in production of newer varieties of apples aimed at the fresh consumption domestic market has caused demand for Red Delicious to decline," said Mark Seetin, the U.S. Apple Association's 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."
Also, making waves in the apple industry this year is the Honeycrisp, which will knock Golden Delicious down to sixth place. Seetin predicts that within one to two years, the Honeycrisp will move up to third place as production for 2018 is expected to reach 23.5 million.
Apples are commercially grown in 32 states, with Washington, New York, Michigan, Pennsylvania, California, Virginia, North Carolina, Oregon, Ohio, and Idaho being the top producers.
Overall, the United States is the world's second-largest producer of apples. China currently holds the No. 1 position.