Commission looks ahead to sell extra apples overseas
By DAN WHEAT
WENATCHEE, Wash. -- Washington tree fruit companies probably will need to export about 11 million more boxes of apples from this fall's crop, the president of the Washington Apple Commission says.
"We have to be poised to do everything we can to make sure we can be successful in export markets," Todd Fryhover, president, told commission members at their quarterly meeting in Wenatchee, March 28.
In recent years, Washington has annually sold about 74 million boxes of apples domestically and 36 million overseas. With a 2012 crop 15 percent larger than the old norm, the industry is more than halfway through a season selling 90 million boxes domestically and 39 million to other countries.
Mexico and Canada, the top two export markets, are taking the increase and other countries collectively are down 4.8 percent, Fryhover said.
"That's a little disturbing," he said, noting closure of China and the virtual closure of Indonesia underscore the importance of market access.
Mexico bought 10.2 million boxes of the 2011 crop and probably will end up at 15 million from the 2012 crop, said Rebecca Lyons, the commission's export marketing manager.
"But we can't count on that for next season," she said. "Chihuahua is looking at having a large crop."
Growers in Mexico, Canada, Europe and the U.S. Midwest and East all had light 2012 crops, which kept demand high for Washington's record crop. But those areas are likely to return to normal harvest levels this fall while Washington remains large. Domestic consumption is flat so exports are the answer, Fryhover said.
Lyons outlined tentative plans for an extra $500,000 in overseas promotions for the 2013 crop with the bulk of it going to Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. Mexico, Dominican Republic and India also made the list.
The $500,000 comes from an additional $700,000 in grower assessments from the size of the 2012 crop with $200,000 going into reserves.
The commission adopted an $8.9 million 2013-2014 budget, down from the current $9.3 million. The decline is a loss of non-MAP -- federal Market Access Program -- money for a promotion program that was scheduled to end. In revenue, $4.6 million of the $8.9 million is MAP money and $4.3 million is an estimate of grower assessments.
Most of the budget is spent on overseas promotions, Fryhover said. Support to other industry organizations, mainly the U.S. Apple Association and Northwest Horticultural Council, is $1.4 million, staff salaries and benefits are $870,000 and travel, training and meetings is $230,000.
Fryhover urged greater use of generic Washington apple logo stickers on apples and boxes going overseas, instead of company stickers. The logo ties in with commission promotions and builds consumer awareness, he said.