Jun 1, 2015Washington: Apple dumping reports have been exaggerated
Over the last few weeks, major news organizations have reported a historic apple dump in Washington state. Millions of pounds — and dollars — were reported lost.
But according to apple growers and packers in the state, much of it was exaggerated.
Apple growers and packers are fighting a backlash from news reports this week that accused them of dumping millions of dollars worth of fruit just because they couldn’t sell all of it overseas due to the port slowdown over the winter.
That’s not true, said Jon DeVaney, president of the Washington State Tree Fruit Association, the Yakima-based trade group that represents fruit packers.
“Putting a dollar value on what is dumped is nigh impossible,” DeVaney said.
Still, trade groups that represent the state’s apple industry, the largest in the nation, received a host of emails and other comments Friday decrying the waste and greed of the state’s farmers, demanding they start donating to food banks.
One read, “Your farmers are selfish, and it’s going to come back to haunt them someday,” according to Todd Fryhover, president of the Washington Apple Commission, a Yakima agency charged with marketing apples internationally.
However, growers have not dumped nearly as many apples as reported.
According to the publication, Washington growers dumped more than usual, but they did not “simply throw away $95 million worth of apples.”
Where does the $95 million statistic come from? The Yakima Herald reporter said that it’s “how much the industry estimates it lost in overseas sales opportunities due to the labor slowdown that jammed up the shipping ports of Seattle and Tacoma.”
Food banks accepted as much of the excess fruit as they could:
As for food banks, growers and packing houses donate apples all the time, said Sheri Bissell, a spokeswoman for Northwest Harvest, a statewide food bank distribution agency with a warehouse Yakima.
In fact, the Yakima warehouse received a total of nearly 65,000 pounds of apples donated by growers and packers on Thursday and Friday. If the warehouse gets anymore soon, they’ll have to turn those apples away, she said.
That happens all the time, too. Food banks and food bank warehouses across the state frequently run out of storage space and tell produce growers, no thanks.
And no food bank will accept spoiled apples.
“Just because someone is hungry doesn’t mean we give them expired food or bad food,” she said.
An exact number of pounds of apples dumped in Washington state was not mentioned.