Nov 17, 2004
Kenton Kidd Announces Retirement from California Apple Commission

Kenton Kidd, president of the California Apple Commission, has announced his retirement and will officially step down from his role April 1.

Kidd has been involved in the industry since the early 1960s. He officially began leading the California apple industry in 1986 as he, along with growers, packers and shippers, established the voluntary Granny Smith Association. In 1994, that organization was converted to the nonvoluntary California Apple Commission that exists today.

Kidd said the biggest accomplishment he and his commission have made over the past 20 years is the visibility they have provided the California apple industry with. When Kidd started working for the apple industry, few consumers were even aware that California produced apples.

“Our challenge is to let people know California has apples,” Kidd said. “We got our name out there by promoting ‘California Apples: Taste the Difference.’” And the money and effort spent on those promotions paid off because California sales have soared from a half-million boxes of Granny Smith in the early 1980s to as much as 5 million boxes in recent years. California now ranks fourth in apple production.

“We have a very stable industry now,” Kidd said.

Part of that stability is because of how he helped develop California’s export business. Exports have grown to Taiwan, Canada and most recently Mexico.

There is currently a search committee looking for the next person to fill Kidd’s place. Kidd advises his successor to, if he or she is not already, become familiar with the apple industry on the national and international level. He said his successor also needs to take advantage of opportunities to continue to develop the California apple industry.

“Enjoy the work and keep expanding where there appears to be opportunity,” he said.

Kidd also said it’s important for all produce industry leaders to draw in more young people.

“Continue to encourage young people to pursue a career in this business,” Kidd said. “There is so much opportunity and many young people have not followed this business because it’s not considered mainstream.”

Kidd said even though he’s retiring, he still going to live an active life through the advisement of his 83-year-old mother. He said he’s going to pursue a number of hobbies such as antiquing, which he has not had much time for as head of the commission.

Kidd’s also going to travel and visit his children and grandchildren who are spread out across the country. He’ll also remain in contact with the many friends he made and worked with over the last half century.

“It’s hard to believe I’m going to be switching over (to retirement),” Kidd said. “But it’s been a great ride. What a great industry to work in – what a bunch of great people to work with.”

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