(Aug. 28) CHICAGO — New York City goes by the nickname the Big Apple. Jim Allen’s job is to let people know the entire state is also Apple Country.

He uses that New York Apple Association slogan to promote the product and seek higher grower returns as the association’s president.

The industry seems to be pleased with his work.

Allen won the Apple Person of the Year Award at the 2002 U.S. Apple Association and Outlook Marketing Conference on Aug. 22 in Chicago.

“This is the top, absolutely,” he said. “Other than getting married and having kids, this is absolutely the top.”

The award, presented by The Packer and its sister publication, The Grower, recognizes a person who has shown leadership and commitment to the apple industry. Tom Karst, national editor for The Packer, presented the award.

Allen’s work in finding ways to improve grower returns won him the award.

Allen says the New York association wants to continue to push the health benefits of apples through print, television and radio advertising.

In that area, Allen and the association recently hired dietitian Linda Quinn to appear on TV and radio to discuss cancer-fighting properties of apples.

Allen also has worked to open new markets to New York apples. The state’s apple growers this year received phytosanitary clearance to ship apples to Cuba.

One industry member in his nomination letter for Allen said, “Our association has performed far beyond my expectations with the limited budget that we have, and I credit Jim for the improvements that we have seen in expanding our markets. Innovation and hard work have been the keys to Jim’s success, and I am certain that he will have a tremendous impact on the future of apple marketing in New York state.”

Allen grew up on his family’s potato farm in New York before obtaining a degree in food marketing from the State University of New York, Morrisville, in 1972. His career always has included a link to the apple industry.

Allen worked in buying, including the buying of apples and cherries for processing, for Comstock Foods of Red Creek, N.Y., from 1972-77. From 1977-80 he worked for companies that sold agricultural chemicals and fertilizers.

A 13-year stay at Keystone Fruit Marketing in Greencastle, Pa., saw Allen work in quality control, field work and f.o.b. sales. He continued to sell and promote apples at Sun Orchard Fruit Co. in Burt, N.Y., from 1993-96.

Allen joined the New York Apple Association in 1996 and served as retail promotion directory until he was named president in 2000.