YAKIMA -- Washington's organic apple growers have good marketing opportunities in Asian markets where increasingly sophisticated consumers want organic produce from America, a marketer of organic apples and pears said.
Luis Acua, president of CF Fresh of Sedro-Woolley, told the Tilth Producers of Washington annual conference in Yakima that organic growers can command a 15 percent price premium for their products. While exports of organic apples remain modest, Acua said, potential for increased sales is good.
"The demand is there," he said.
He pointed to Thailand, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore as growing markets for organic produce.
"This is about what consumers want and how the United States is perceived," he told a Saturday workshop at the conference at the Yakima Convention Center. "Produce from Washington and California have credentials. Consumers want it. It opens a new door for Washington apples to these markets."
Acua and Royal City grower Dain Craver discussed growing and marketing organic apples during a convention workshop, one of several conducted during the three-day event that has attracted more than 500 attendees to the Yakima Convention Center. The organization promotes ecologically sound and economically viable farming practices.
Washington, the leading U.S. producer of organic apples, pears and cherries, has seen acreage decline in the last year while production continues to increase. Growers produced more than 5.9 million boxes of organic apples in 2010, while acreage fell to 14,800 acres.
Organic production makes up about 5 percent of all apples grown in the state.