The primary purpose of the Washington Apple Commission is advertising, promotion, education, and market development for the Washington fresh apple crop in more than 30 countries around the world. Our key objectives include:
- To increase the consumption of Washington apples in international markets through excellence in export program strategy with effective promotional activities executed by a professional team on behalf of all apple growers.
- To be fiscally accountable to membership, allocating resources efficiently and effectively to execute promotional activities for the greatest good and maximum benefit of the industry.
- To protect the grower investment in the Washington brand against trademark infringement in all markets.
- Outreach to industry and membership to gain cooperation, support, awareness, and participation in the Washington Apple Commission’s primary activities.
Initially established in 1937 by the Washington State Legislature at the request of the apple industry, we are one of the oldest commodity commissions in the United States. The Commission is considered a governmental agency since it is state-mandated, yet is governed and totally funded by growers under the supervision of the Director of Agriculture, who approves the budget and sits on the Board of Directors.
HISTORY OF THE WASHINGTON APPLE COMMISSION
The first Washington Apple Commission was formed in 1937. At the time, it was called the Washington State Apple Advertising Commission, and for nearly 70 years produced marketing campaigns, publicity, merchandise, and programs to promote Washington apples to major food chains in the US, export markets in Europe and the Pacific Rim, and the consumer public.
The Commission was (and still is) primarily funded by mandatory assessments levied against all fresh apple shipments, with rates established by a referendum of commercial Washington apple growers. Growers have adjusted the assessment 13 times from its original 1 cent per box to as high as 40 cents. The resulting budget created advertising opportunities that reached hundreds of millions of households.
In 2003, a lawsuit dramatically restructured the Commission. Based on a 2001 US Supreme Court decision, it was determined that forcing a grower to pay mandatory fees for promotions that benefit their competitors infringes on their free speech rights. The Washington Apple Commission pivoted away from advertising to focus exclusively on foreign trade programs, industry organizations, and logo protections, reducing the assessment to 3.5 cents per box.