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Cameo Partners International is a new group formed recently to coordinate the promotion and development of the Cameo apple around the world.

Kevin Precht of the Cameo Apple Marketing Association, based in Washington State, is chair of the group, whose members include representatives of other Cameo groups in Europe, Australia, Chile, New Zealand, and South Africa.

Its goals are to:

—improve grower returns;

—standardize quality control procedures around the world in an effort to provide consistent quality of Cameo worldwide;

—use key messages to promote Cameo around the world, such as information about the health benefits. (Research in Europe has shown that Cameo apples have a higher antioxidant content than other varieties, Precht said.); and

—facilitate an exchange of technical information about producing the apple.

Precht said that as Cameo grows in importance and global competition in the apple market increases, it’s important to have coordination between the countries producing the apple. Washington grows the largest volume, with production of 1.4 million packed boxes in 2005.

The Cameo Apple Marketing Association runs a voluntary program in which about 80 percent of the Cameo shippers in Washington participate. They pay a promotional fee of 50 cents per box. The program includes demonstrations, category management, merchandising and promotional materials, and public relations efforts.

The association is developing a sourcing program for U.S. retailers, so they can have year-round supplies, and shelf space for the variety can be maintained. In the summer, they’ll receive apples from the Southern Hemisphere.