“However, as the world becomes more retail driven than wholesale driven, brand loyalty is becoming a bigger factor,” Alegria said. “Deep down, we all believe in protecting the Washington apple logo. It’s the glue that ties us together.”
Mathison agreed that the logo is a “valuable tool” for the state’s apple industry. But, he said, making the most of it is a challenge.
“I don’t think there is a clear path of how the industry can leverage it in the current supply chain,” Mathison said. “With the consolidation of the industry, it has changed how the logo is used.”
Mathison said retailers know the logo carries clout with consumers worldwide. But regardless where Washington apples are being eaten, retailers are looking for top quality. He said the rule has become that retailers buy based on shippers’ labels rather than the state logo.
Both Alegria and Mathison said some kind of compromise using both shippers’ labels and the state logo might be workable, but they also said it is difficult to market a product from two perspectives.
“It’s hard to say two things at once on a product,” Mathison said. “You don’t go to the store saying ‘I want to buy some S.C. Johnson products.’ You say ‘I need Ziploc bags and Pledge.’
“Researchers say brand penetration on produce is very low. That is part of our challenge.”