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PA Apple Crop Serves as Flavorful Ambassador to International Ambassadors
Teri Hurst, firstname.lastname@example.org
–Sure, apples are healthy and delicious, but they’re also boosting our state’s economy by serving as some of our most flavorful ambassadors to international markets.
Pennsylvania is the fourth largest apple producing state in the country. The 2009 apple crop provided more than $77 million to the state’s economy, with more than $7 million coming from exports.
International buyers check out the state’s apple crop
On October 12 and 13, in conjunction with the U.S. Apple Export Council, the Pennsylvania Apple Marketing Program (PAMP) will host delegates from India, Russia and Southeast Asia for a reverse trade mission. India is a top trading partner for the Pennsylvania Apple Marketing Program, purchasing more than $965,000 worth of Pennsylvania apples from last year’s harvest.
“These reverse trade missions allow our partners to see this year’s crop first-hand. They can see, smell and taste the apples that will be exported, and it gives them an opportunity to sample new varieties,” said Karin Rodriguez, executive director of the Pennsylvania Apple Marketing Program. “Hopefully they like what they see and that translates into increased exports.”
In many parts of the world, as economies grow and the middle class has more disposable income, U.S. goods, including apples, are seen as luxury items. “When an order is placed for Pennsylvania grown apples, it helps our state’s economy,” said Rodriguez. “However, they become known simply as ‘U.S. Apples’ once they leave the country for export.”
Pennsylvania is one stop on a four state tour. The delegations are comprised of buyers who represent the companies that import U.S. Apples. The delegation will also make stops in New York, Virginia and Michigan. While they are in the States, they will visit orchards, packing houses, farm markets and grocery stores.
“This is actually the second reverse trade mission we’re doing,” said Rodriguez. “In late September, we hosted visitors from Mexico, Brazil and Central America.”
The Pennsylvania Apple Marketing Program has been participating in reverse trade missions with the U.S. Apple Export Council for more than 10 years.
Apple exports help the state’s economy
The apples themselves are just one piece of the larger puzzle when it comes to the impact apple exports have on the state’s economy. There’s also a process, which involves everything from planting and grafting trees, to orchard maintenance, to harvesting and packaging the fruit. “You also need to think beyond the apple and consider the supporting industries and the jobs they create,” said Rodriguez. “For instance, most of the packaging used is manufactured right here in PA. And there are the packing houses with all of the machinery, supplies and labor that are required to prepare the fruit for export.”
Apples that are specifically grown for processing remain an important commodity for the state. But, as the volume of fresh apples continues to increase, new markets and additional trade channels are needed for future crops. And it’s the reverse trade missions like these that could potentially open new doors for future exports.
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The Pennsylvania Apple Marketing Program is a commodity marketing program established by the Commodity Marketing Act of 1968. The program is funded by apple growers and governed by a Board of Directors. The Board is composed of growers from various regions of the state and a representative from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. Their website is www.pennsylvaniaapples.org