(July 9) Export promotion dollars will be important to the 2002 apple crop, with early expectations calling for a significant increase in Washington state fresh volume.

Early expectations for the 2002 crop volume are close to 90 million cartons, said Tom Swearingen, advertising and public relations director for the Washington Apple Commission, Wenatchee.

Washington fresh production in 2001 was 82 million boxes, of which 25 million boxes were estimated for export.

While the coming Washington crop is large, it won’t be a record; in 2000, Washington’s fresh crop was 95 million cartons.

The U.S. apple industry’s 2002 crop export promotion efforts will be aided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Market Access Program. The U.S. Apple Export Council was allocated $395,000, and the Washington Apple Commission was awarded $2.45 million. Both figures were down slightly from 2001, when the commission received $2.47 million and the council received $408,000.

“We do a lot of export business. We export 25 million to 30 million boxes each year,” Swearingen said.

“MAP is essential to our industry’s overall success, given nearly one-quarter of our fresh apple sales are coming from outside U.S. borders,” said Jim Cranney, interim president of the U.S. Apple Association, Vienna, Va.

With MAP funding doubling by 2006, Cranney said he anticipates apple export promotions should experience increased funding in coming years.

MAP allocations will more than double from $90 million this year to $200 million by 2006.

U.S. apple exports have increased by 313% since 1985, the first year the industry participated in the MAP program. Over the course of the program’s existence, the apple industry has received more than $54 million in USDA export promotion funds.

By value, 2001 U.S. apple exports totaled $392 million, up from $368 million in 2000. Exports from January through April 2002 were $149 million, down 10% from the same period a year ago.

On a regional basis, Latin America — including Mexico, Central America and South America — has shown strong growth in U.S. apple demand; shipments to the region rose from $77 million in 1997 to $148 million in 2001. Mexico alone accounted for $118 million in U.S. apple sales, up from $43 million in 1997.

On the other hand, shipments to Asia have declined from $219 million in 1997 to $149 million in 2001.

The council conducts foreign promotions on behalf of California, Michigan, New York, New England, Pennsylvania and Virginia apple growers, while the commission undertakes export promotion activities on behalf of that state’s apple growers.

MAP funds are matched by apple grower contributions to conduct international marketing and promotional activities in more than 20 countries around the world. Major markets for U.S. apples include Canada, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Latin America, the Middle East, Mexico, Taiwan and the United Kingdom.