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7c6441cd54cc760d0430d5f8c8bc7322.jpeThe New York Apple Association, charged with promoting fresh and processed apples, targets its efforts to educating in-state consumers about the health benefits of apples through radio, television, and print advertising.

About one-third of the current $1.4 million budget will be spent on consumer promotions, said Jim Allen, president of the statewide group that administers the New York State Apple Marketing Order. Consumer and trade promotions and advertising and public relations activities take about 70 percent of their budget.

The budget is supplemented this year with $500,000 of state-appropriated funds to be used for consumer advertising, bringing the total budget to just under $2 million.

Reaching consumers

Four years ago, the association began doing more consumer advertising, Allen said. “Now we’re heavy into consumer promotion, running radio and television ads from September 15 to November all around the state and then again in January and February.”

Advertising is also done through cable food networks and on Continental Airlines’s in-flight media program.

The association also sponsors the New York City Marathon, which attracts some 85,000 participants, 2 million spectators, and a world

wide television audience of 260 million. The association reaches more than 30,000 runners by advertising in a New York running magazine.”The ads are heavy on the health message,” Allen said.

The nutritional aspects of apples take center stage in the association’s consumer messages and promotional activities. Linda Quinn, registered dietician, who serves as the association’s on-staff nutritional spokesperson, spends much of her time expounding the virtues of eating apples by giving interviews on television and radio news programs throughout the state.

Point-of-purchase materials and brochures printed in English and Spanish promote the health message at retail locations.

A new tool to distribute information about the nutritional benefits of apples is the association’s new Web site www.applesprevent.com. The site is devoted solely to health information and includes the latest research studies linking apples to prevention of several types of cancers, reduction of heart disease, improvement of lung and brain function and bone health, and weight loss.

New York apple growers participate in the U.S. Apple Export Council, a consortium that coordinates export promotions for all major apple-producing states, except Washington, which has its own export program. The Export Council has programs in the United Kingdom, Central and South American countries, and Taiwan.

Though the United Kingdom is the major export market for New York apples, with Empire apples as the preferred variety, less than 10 percent of the total crop is exported, Allen notes. In 2004, about 936,000 bushels were exported, a number that includes 15,000 packed boxes exported to Canada. New York’s northern neighbor also takes about 700,000 bushels annually of tree-run fruit for processing and repacking under Canadian labels.

The apple association annually spends about $100,000 for export promotions.

Grower support

Three different rates are set by the marketing order for grower assessments collected to support the association’s promotion activities. Growers pay 16 cents per bushel on fresh apples sold wholesale, 8 cents per bushel for apples sold fresh from the farm, and 8 cents per hundredweight for apples sold for processing or juice.

Growers also pay an assessment to the Agricultural Research Development Program to support research activities of 2 cents per hundredweight for processed apples and 0.8 cents per bushel for fresh apples.

Last spring, New York apple growers voted decisively to reauthorize the state apple marketing order for eight years.