Apr 1, 2005
California Chooses Ott to Head Apple Commission

The California Apple Commission has chosen Alex Ott to fill the position of executive director, effective April 4.

For the last five years, Ott has been director of government relations for the California Grape & Tree Fruit League.

He replaces Kenton Kidd, who announced last fall he would step down April 1 from leadership of the organization he has led since it was created in 1994.

Ott described the change as taking him from a trade association that lobbies on issues for nine commodities to a marketing association concerned with “navigating the process” of opening new markets and maintaining them for California apple growers.

Both jobs are located in Fresno.

The biggest challenges are presented by the pressures and competition of the global market, Ott said. His job is to help assure that California growers have a level playing field in it, he said.

Kidd has been involved in the produce industry since the early 1960s. He became a leader in the California apple industry in 1986 when he, with growers, packers and shippers, established the voluntary Granny Smith Association. In 1994, that organization was converted to the California Apple Commission.

When he started working for the apple industry, few consumers were even aware that California produced apples, he said.

In an article in The Fruit Growers News last November, Kidd said: “Our challenge is to let people know California has apples. We got our name by promoting ‘California Apples: Taste the Difference.’”

The money and effort spent on those promotions paid off. California sales have soared from a half-million boxes of Granny Smith in the early 1980s to up to 5 million boxes in recent years. California now ranks as the fourth largest state in apple production.

Exports have grown to Taiwan, Canada and Mexico.

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