As we move together into another apple harvest, the Washington Apple Commission strives to evolve to mirror the ever-­changing export market requirements, matching international consumer tastes and preferences with Washington growers’ commitment to growing the Best Apples on Earth. To achieve our goals, we have made a few changes to our program to enhance our ability to service the industry, while decreasing overhead, allowing for increased program funding.

Chris Scott joined the Apple Commission in August as an export trade specialist. Chris comes to us with an extensive background, including domestic retail replenishment and quality control, apple warehousing expertise, and experience as a third-generation family orchardist. His enthusiastic attitude and breadth of industry experience will bring a fresh approach to lending support to our export staff. As Chris’s maturation process grows, he will be working directly with ­several of our overseas representatives to ensure program compliance, effectiveness, and accountability. Due to structural changes in the Canadian market, he will spend approximately 25 percent of his time working directly with retail in Canada, setting promotional activity ­timing and partnering with sales desks to coordinate joint efforts in increasing consumer demand with our neighbor to the north.

Middle East strategy

In addition, we will realign our Middle East representation to target increasing consumer demand and new varietal diversification opportunities. With the beginning of the new season, the AMFI group will take over the Middle East program responsibilities in Dubai, Egypt, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia. AMFI brings over 25 years of agricultural promotional expertise and is currently working for the Pear Bureau Northwest, amongst other groups. One voice promoting two agricultural products from the Pacific Northwest creates promotional efficiencies and aligns activities to become more accountable to our growers. Under the leadership of Simon Bakht, AMFI will also provide a springboard into new Middle East markets where demand is yet untapped. Few new markets exist, but several have been identified for exploration, including Jordan, Libya, Iraq, and someday Iran.

These changes to the commission are mandatory in continuing our goal to be in the forefront of international promotions on behalf of Washington apple growers. They also provide an $80,000 overhead ­savings, allowing us to devote more program resources to promote Washington apples.