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Apple commission increases export promotions

Dan Wheat
The Washington Apple Commission has increased apple export promotions 15 percent to help sell this fall's crop, which is expected to be large.

WENATCHEE, Wash. — The Washington Apple Commission is boosting its overseas promotions and fully funding efforts in China again in an anticipation of a large fall apple crop.

The commission, based in Wenatchee, adopted a $7.4 million export promotions budget recently that’s up about 15 percent from the prior $6.34 million plan.

The new budget is for the fiscal year that started July 1 but spending kicks in with fall harvest and year-long sales, said Todd Fryhover, commission president.

Retail promotions were eliminated in China, but trade education was retained, after China stopped accepting U.S. Red and Golden Delicious apples due to disease concerns two years ago. The industry, USDA’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service and the Washington State Department of Agriculture are working to interpret new protocols to reopen the market for this season so promotions are fully funded at $743,500, Fryhover said.

That’s third in the commission’s line up. Mexico is No. 1 at $1.1 million and India is No. 2 at close to the same amount, Fryhover said. Following China is Indonesia at $541,000, trailed by Central America, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand and others.

The commission has been focusing on Southeast Asia where sales have been increasing as a growing middle class desires quality fruit, Fryhover said. But every market is important as Washington produces more apples, he said.

“The key is understanding the domestic market so we can anticipate what needs to be shipped internationally and then fit markets to meet those needs,” he said.

Honeycrisp continues to increase in domestic popularity while Red Delicious is known worldwide and remains popular overseas, he said.

The commission’s export budget is spent on point-of-sale information and tasting in stores and education.

The commission is the second year of its Mother’s Love Campaign in Southeast Asia. Featuring a red heart and an apple in a mother’s hands, the effort provides information specifically targeted to mothers choosing healthy, safe and nutritious food for their children. It has vibrant point-of-sale material, retail events, social media connections and features a mother in each country, Fryhover said.

The program is being used in Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam.

Promotions will be increased this season in Egypt following a reduction the past two years because of political instability, Fryhover said. Money will be added to the program in Jordan which is a hub for re-exporting, he said.

The commission does not have a representative in Israel but it bought 281,000 boxes of Washington apples this past season up from 155,000 the year before, Fryhover said. Fluctuations have to do with internal workings in Israel and the war between Israel and the terrorist group Hamas could impact shipments, he said.

Of the $7.4 million export promotions budget, $5.2 million comes from USDA’s Market Access Program and $2.2 million from grower assessments.



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