(Nov. 17) Two staff additions will help the Vienna, Va.-based U.S. Apple Association better communicate the health benefits of apples and industry information to the public, lawmakers and the media.

Wendy Davis joined the group Nov. 1 as director of communications and consumer health.

Mark Bowen came aboard Oct. 18 as manager of industry information.

“They will be tremendous assets to the industry,” said Nancy Foster, U.S. Apple’s president and chief executive officer.

A registered dietician who has eight years of nutrition and marketing experience, Davis will help spread nutrition information to consumers and health professionals and will lead the association’s health research and consumer education programs.

“It’s very important to tell consumers and other target groups that apples are a versatile and naturally healthy commodity that can be used in a variety of recipes,” she said.

“It’s a very easy product to communicate to the public.”

In addition to responding to media inquiries and calls from congressional aides wanting apple industry statistics, Bowen will be responsible for special initiatives such as examining the competition and challenge China poses to the U.S. apple industry.

Bowen succeeds Adam Sullivan, the association’s industry services manager who left in 2003.

Bowen previously worked as research coordinator for the GIC Group, an Alexandria, Va., agribusiness consulting firm. The Virginia Apple Growers Inc., Richmond, was one of its clients.

Davis takes on responsibilities previously handled by Julia Daly, former vice president of public relations and nutrition communications who resigned in January to start her own public relations firm.

Davis — who has an master’s degree in business administration with a marketing emphasis — was manager of consumer affairs for the Food Marketing Institute, Washington, D.C., from 2002-03.

She also has worked for a Washington health communications company and was a clinical dietician and spokeswoman for Baltimore’s Mercy Medical Center.

Patricia Henderson, U.S. Apple’s communications director, left in May.

U.S. Apple fills 2 communications posts