Good Fruit Grower

August 2013

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Export promotions need shipper support Use of the Washington logo is critical to identify the fruit, the Apple Commission says. by Geraldine Warner Photo by geraldine warner T Todd Fryhover, president of the Washington Apple Commission, says the industry needs to increase demand. he Washington Apple Commission is strengthening its export program in anticipation of larger volumes of apples coming onto the U.S. market in the next few years and wants shippers to support its efforts by using the Washington logo on their apple stickers and cartons. This season, Washington State produced 129 million packed boxes of apples—about 20 million more than ever before. Yet the industry has enjoyed one of its best seasons ever with f.o.b. prices averaging more than $25 a box. Washington's good fortune has been largely at the expense of apple growers in other parts of the country, such as Michigan and New York, whose 2012 crops were decimated by spring freezes. Michigan harvested less than 3 million bushels, compared with a normal crop of 25 million, and New York picked 14 million boxes, barely half its average production, —Todd Fryhover giving Washington an opportunity to fill the market. "We dodged a bullet," said Todd Fryhover, president of the Washington Apple Commission. "It's been a fantastic year—the best year we've ever had." Though the 2012 eastern crops might be an aberration, large crops in Washington are not. Production is expected to continue to increase because of new plantings. The Apple Commission is gearing up for a 120-million fresh crop in the coming season. With Michigan forecasting to produce 40- to 45-million-box crops in the next five years and New York 50 million boxes within the next three years, Washington growers could find themselves in a much more crowded domestic market, Fryhover said. A portion of Michigan and New York apples go to processors, but the trend is to ship more into the fresh market. "We're going to have to increase demand," he said. The domestic market, which has been fairly flat, has taken 73 million boxes of Washington apples on average over the past decade. If the total Washington crop is 120 million boxes, the industry will need to ship 47 million boxes into the export market—10 million boxes more than ever before. "Having the logo on the box is critical." Export budget The commission is putting an additional $500,000 from reserves into export promotions for the coming year. The total export budget will be $6.65 million, of which just over $2 million will come from grower assessments and $4.6 million from federal Market Access Program funds. Rebecca Lyons, the commission's international marketing director, said no single market can absorb the increasing apple volume. The commission's strategy will be to increase immediate export sales while continuing to build the Washington brand in order to expand markets for the long term. But Fryhover said the commission's efforts could be more effective if there was a clearer connection between its promotional materials and the apples that are on sale. Its promotions feature the Washington apple logo and most are designed to enhance the reputation of Washington apples in the minds of consumers. But the fruit on the retail market is often sold under the packer or marketer's brand name without any Washington identification. If packers used stickers on the apples with the generic Washington logo, consumers would be able to identify them, he said. "If we have all these promotional programs in place and we're out there trying to increase international 8 AUGUST 2013 GOOD FRUIT GROWER

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