It takes a little fear
Not all of our readers realize that Good Fruit Grower is owned by the Washington State Fruit Commission, but it has been since 1947. Although promotion of fruit is not part of the magazine’s mission nor do staff participate in promotional activities, the stability of our parent organization, obviously, is vital to our own interest. Three years ago, when the U.S. Supreme Court chose to rule on the legality of commodity commissions and mandatory assessments, our staff worried as much about the future of this publication as our counterparts on the promotion side of the business worried about their futures. All commissions in the United States could have been shut down with a single decision by the court. It gave us a taste of the turmoil Washington State growers were going through with the thought of losing their commission as their promotion arm—for many their only marketing effort. And it was not pleasant.
In this issue, four industry leaders representing three major shipping companies give their candid appraisal of both the short- and long-term impacts of the collapse of one of the country’s larger and arguably most successful commodity commissions, the Washington Apple Commission. Although it remains a vital entity, the commission is a shadow of the marketing powerhouse it once was.
What impact has the entity’s virtual demise really had on the apple industry and individual growers? In “Coping without the commission,” the leaders’ observations reveal how changes in the commission have resulted in many exciting opportunities as well as a healthy adjustment to the way business—and marketing—is conducted, at least short term. The insights they share are worthy of your review and discussion.
Marketing apples is not what it was five years ago and for other fruit, marketing has evolved as well. Do the new marketing rules pioneered by apple shippers affect the future of pears, stone fruit, or grape growers? Will a shift from more generic advertising to club- or variety-specific be an opportunity for top growers to find a profitable niche?
We hope that reading this issue, which is focused on marketing, will help you glean enough fresh ideas to help you find new, exciting opportunities to market your own crops successfully. Sometimes it takes a little unpleasantness and fear to make us all better in our professions.