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U.S. Apple Association bustling with changes amidst what is projected to be good 2013 nationwide crop

Mark W. Seetin, director of regulatory and industry affairs for the U.S. Apple Association, headquartered in Vienna, VA, said the association was still gathering apple crop projections, but he noted that the association releases the U.S. apple projections at the 2013 Apple Crop Outlook & Marketing Conference, being held Aug. 22-23 at the Ritz-Carlton in Chicago.

He did, however, offer 2013 crop projections compiled by Michigan and the Premier Co-op, which show only a slight 0.4 percent difference. Overall, the reports indicate that the nationwide 2013 apple crop will be between 250 and 252 million bushels, JessaAllenJessa Allencompared to the 215.74 million produced nationwide in 2012. It is notable that due to bad weather conditions in 2012, New York lost approximately half of its crop and Michigan produced only 2.738 million bushels in 2012, compared to the state’s five-year average of 16.238 million bushels. According to the Michigan crop projection report, it expects a crop of more than 26 million bushels in 2013.

Associations that The Produce News conferred with in New York, Pennsylvania and California, concurred that their states are expecting great-quality crops with normal to better-than-normal volumes. And industry experts in the east say that word is out that Washington is projecting a nice crop of large-size apples.

Internally, USApple is going through some major changes. In the spring it announced that two new key employees had joined the staff.

Jessa Allen, certified association executive, has joined the USApple staff as its new director of membership and communications. In her new position, Allen will lead the organization’s membership recruitment and retention efforts, development of sponsors and allied supporters, industry communications and management of the organization’s annual Apple Crop Outlook & Marketing Conference.

A native of Alexandria, VA, Allen comes to USApple as a seasoned association professional, having held management positions with professional and trade associations spanning the healthcare, human resource and affordable housing industries.

Prior to joining USApple, Allen was director of member relations for the Health Industry Distributors Associations, the national trade association representing medical products distributors. She has also served as the director of membership and professional development at the International Public Management Association for Human Resources and director of meetings and membership at the National Affordable Housing Management Association.

WendyBrannenWendy BrannenWendy Brannen also joined the USApple staff in the spring as its director of consumer health and education. Brannen will oversee the education program, and in this capacity she will work to raise consumer awareness and knowledge about the health benefits of apples and apple products through traditional and social media avenues of public relations. Brannen will also manage the health and nutrition research program, and she will play a key role in USApple’s crisis communication efforts.

Prior to joining USApple, Wendy served as executive director of the Vidalia Onion Committee, in Vidalia, GA, where she managed marketing, research and compliance for the growers and packers of Vidalia sweet onions, typically the largest vegetable moneymaker for the state of Georgia.

“We’re knee-deep in getting ready for the upcoming Crop Outlook & Marketing Conference,” Allen said in early August.

In late July, USApple announced that Nancy Foster, president and chief executive officer of USApple, had resigned after 11 years as head of the organization. Foster planned to leave the association in late-August, and a search committee had been formed to seek her replacement. The committee will be headed by Mike Wade of Columbia Fruit Packers in Wenatchee, WA, and members of the committee include Mark Nicholson of Red Jacket Orchards in Geneva, NY, John Rice of Rice Fruit Co. in Gardners, PA, and Julia Rothwell of Belding Fruit Storage in Grand Rapids, MI.