Courtesy of Calif. Fresh Fruit Association
SACRAMENTO — One of California’s oldest agricultural trade organizations is changing its name.
The 66-year-old California Grape and Tree Fruit League is now the California Fresh Fruit Association, embracing a moniker that president Barry Bedwell says better represents the group’s growing membership.
“We now represent 15 different permanent fresh fruit commodities,” Bedwell said. “A lot of people assumed … that we were simply table grapes, peaches, plums, nectarines and maybe apricots. But over the years we’ve always represented pears, and now we’re representing blueberries, kiwi, figs and pomegranates.”
The Fresno-based group unveiled its new name during its annual Fruit Delivery here Aug. 12 at the state Capitol. Each year, the group delivers old-fashioned lunch boxes full of fruit to each legislator’s office with information about its members’ issues.
“We’re up here a lot,” Bedwell said. “I’m probably up in Sacramento three or four times a month and I see a lot of people … We usually try to interact with the Legislature and regulators on a consistent basis throughout the year. This is a good time to give a little break to the staffs and say, ‘Here’s some fruit to enjoy.’”
The nearly 350-member group, which advocates for fresh fruit growers, shippers and marketers, has origins dating back to 1921 with the California Growers and Shippers Protective League and 1936 with the California Grape Growers and Shippers Association. The two organizations merged in 1948 to become the California Grape and Tree Fruit League.
A planning committee presented the idea of a name change in 2011 after completing a five-year strategic plan, according to a news release. Today the group represents nearly all the state’s permanent fresh-fruit crops, with the exception of citrus and avocados.
“Our primary concern was not necessarily to attract more members, but we wanted to broaden the knowledge of who we were representing,” Bedwell said. “There was a little confusion over the term ‘league’, which was more popular in the 30s and 40s … We wanted to clarify who we represent as well as simplify it.”