Apple Commission to promote proprietary varieties overseas

Todd Fryhover, President of the Washington Apple Commission. Photo by Dan Wheat,  Capital Press .

Todd Fryhover, President of the Washington Apple Commission. Photo by Dan Wheat, Capital Press.

The Washington Apple Commission has learned it can promote proprietary apple varieties overseas, at least to some extent, and sees it as a helpful tool in an increasingly challenging marketing climate.

At a commission meeting March 22 in Yakima, Commission President Todd Fryhover said while at the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service the previous week in Washington, D.C., he was told the commission can offer consumer samples of proprietary varieties overseas at retailers’ requests.

“It could be a Lady Alice, a SweeTango, whatever. That’s a huge deal to us. It’s difficult to get retailers overseas to do demos with Reds (Red Delicious) and Gala, but they ask about the proprietaries,” Fryhover said.

Proprietary varieties — there are many — are varieties grown, packed and sold under the control of one company or a group of companies versus being available to all growers, packers and marketers. They’re limited in volume, sell for high prices and along with Honeycrisp provide the most profits.

“I don’t want proprietaries to overtake Reds and Gala overseas, so we need a process for what we do. There’s a lot of things we need to work through because we have to move Reds and Gala,” Fryhover said.

Proprietaries can sell in higher-end retail markets and generate excitement along with Washington’s new Cosmic Crisp to debut in 2019 and 2020, he said.

Cosmic Crisp is intended to begin in domestic markets only. But Frank Davis, commissioner and vice president of sales at Washington Fruit & Produce Co., Yakima, said it will need to be exported as soon as possible because of the large volumes planned.

Davis said he would look into why Proprietary Varieties Management, the manager of Cosmic Crisp, may be seeking federal Market Access Program funding for export promotions when that should occur through the Apple Commission.

Article by Dan Wheat, The Packer