(June 26) Plans are under way to form a marketing alliance between the Pennsylvania Apple Marketing Board and the New York Apple Association.

The alliance would join the two associations and possibly those from other Eastern states to form a united message to buy eastern apples.

The concept was developed by Diana Aguilar, executive director of the Harrisburg-based Pennsylvania Apple Marketing Board, and David Benner, chairman of the board, who presented the idea to the Fishers-based New York association on June 24.

“They were all very receptive,” Aguilar said. “Everybody I spoke to there seemed very positive.”

“The foundation is there,” said Jim Allen, president of the New York Apple Association. “Our topography and the market we serve are much the same. It seems to be a natural.”

Aguilar said the initial phase would be to share a phrase, such as “Eastern Apples: Grown in an Orchard Near You.”

“We want to do a better job of conveying a regional approach for retailers,” Allen said. “If we can better serve their needs with a phrase like that, then that will be the message.”

Aguilar said she hopes to have the first phase of development in place and running for the Produce Marketing Association convention in October and eventually include more states.

Plans are to also join forces with associations from Michigan, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey and the New England states.

The campaign would include print and broadcast advertising on regional and national levels. No details have been formulated on cost or how the program will be funded, Aguilar said.

She said the recent events involving the Washington Apple Commission made the timing of the alliance critical.

“With what happened in Washington state, that situation provided a catalyst,” Aguilar said. “We need to take the next step and run with it. It’s a window of opportunity for us. We don’t want to be perceived as an opportunist and capitalizing on the demise of someone else’s business, but we need to be about the business of market share.”

Pennsylvania and New York already work together on the Processed Apple Showoff promotion with Michigan and Virginia, as well as a research study on consumer preferences. The two associations have also joined in an effort to supply Costco under the label Eastern Apples.

“There are a number of initiatives where we’re joined at the hip,” Aguilar said. “This just makes so much sense. We’re really excited about it. We would be utilizing to our best advantage what we already have in place.”