Good Fruit Grower

January 15

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 33 of 47

34 JANUARY 15, 2015 Good Fruit Grower H ow can the Washington apple industry expand markets to absorb increasing production? It's simple, according to Dr. Roland Fumasi, assistant vice president and senior analyst for Rabo Bank North America. Deliver exactly what consumers want: perfection. "The world expects perfection," Fumasi told producers at the Washington State Horticultural Association's annual meeting in December. Consumers expect growers to provide the safest, most consistent, highest quality fresh fruit year round. And they expect them to do that with the upmost transparency. "And by the way, it still has to be good value," Fumasi added. "It can't cost too much. And, all the while, you're expected to leave a much lighter impact on the environment than you ever have before." Producers have to do all this while facing tougher production challenges, such as the increasing cost and limited supply of labor, lim- ited rail service, tight trucking supplies, or delays in shipping from West Coast ports. But if there's a group of growers, packers, and marketers who can pull this off, it's the Washington apple industry, he said. Exports Over the past decade, Washington's fresh fruit exports have tripled, and Fumasi expects exports to continue to grow. The world's population is forecast to increase by two billion—a 30 percent increase—by 2050. In developing countries, particularly in Asia, the population will migrate to urban areas and incomes will increase. People will no longer need to worry about finding the cheapest carbohydrate sources they can get their hands on, he said. This will present great opportunities for fresh fruit producers, who can expect exports to those markets to continue to grow. However, it will be important to try to stimulate domestic consumption also. Export markets are very fickle and can be open one day and closed the next. The government of Mexico, Washington's largest apple export market, is conducting an anti- dumping investigation involving U.S. apples following a petition submitted by Mexican growers. In Canada, Washington's second largest market, a trade dispute over meat labeling could lead to retaliatory measures against U.S. fruit. "I've heard people over the years throw out the idea that as we increase production in Washington, our only hope is to continue to expand export markets," Fumasi said. "But we have to consider that two-thirds of the fruit you produce stays at home. It's a scary proposition not to fight to increase domestic consumption of fruit." Taste Taste is the right of entry to the domes- tic market, Fumsi said. "It doesn't matter how convenient the product is or how healthy the product is, today's consumers expect it to taste good. And I think we would be hard pressed to find a consumer that would not agree that the product you have today tastes better than it ever has before." But there's been a shift toward con- sumers wanting dishes with more exotic flavors. Fumasi urged producers to think about apples as a fresh ingredient and how they can be used in new ways to cre- ate dishes that are exciting and different. However, convenience is critical, too. There are more women in the work force who have children at home, he said. Many consumers decide what they want to eat, shop for it, and prepare the meal within the space of one hour. GROW DOMESTIC market, analyst urges "We have to consider that two- thirds of the fruit you produce stays at home. It's a scary proposition not to fight to increase domestic consumption of fruit." —Roland Fumasi The Washington apple industry can't rely only on exports to absorb increasing volumes. by Geraldine Warner CODE LINKS grower and consumer C onsumers today are heavy users of digital technology and use it to find out more about the food they eat. Dr. Roland Fumasi, assistant vice president and senior analyst for Rabo Bank North America, says one of the biggest marketing opportunities is for growers to use digital technology to reach out and tell their story. "Consumers want to know the story right from the orchard. They want to know who grew it and how it was grown, packed, shipped, transported, and ended up in the place they're going to buy it. That's an opportunity with the current use of technology today." Dutch biodynamic apple grower Louis Ruissen recently began packing his fruit in personalized shipping cartons supplied by his distributing company Eosta, which operates a "trace and sell" program called Nature & More. By entering his code (621) at, consum- ers can learn all about Ruissen and his orchard. "Trees and growers are not objects or factors of production but living organisms," Ruissen said in a press release. "In the stores, our fruit is usually completely anonymous. That's why I'm happy that people can now see clearly that I'm the grower of the apples. That makes me proud." —G. Warner

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Good Fruit Grower - January 15