Spoiling the Whole Bunch

Soured by low prices, Colorado apple growers see a worm in their marketing plan.

"It's impossible for her to wear that many hats--lobbyist, promoter of an independent [apple] brand and then promoter of generic Colorado apples," gripes Acquafresca. And, he adds, he ought to know.

"When I was a legislator, she would approach me in various matters and mix up her political action with her marketing job all the time," he says.

Although Broughton and Davis insist that Acquafresca is standing virtually alone in his battle against the apple marketing order, the former lawmaker has managed to line up one important ally--Kay Alexander, his successor as the legislative representative from District 58.

Earlier this year, as the result of Acquafresca's complaints, Alexander, a Republican, introduced House Bill 1202. Among other provisions, it would require the apple marketing order to come up with a cohesive sales and advertising plan for Colorado's crop--a departure from current policy, says Acquafresca.

"I've seen the latest plan," he says. "What a pathetic excuse for a marketing plan! Even a sophomore marketing student would be surprised by the shallowness and feebleness of this plan."

The result of such aimless promotion, he says, is that "other growers have creamed us in our front yard; in the Front Range, they've whipped us on the supermarket shelves. We used to have a good market along the Front Range. Now we're forced to ship more and more to Texas, the southeast United States and Costa Rica."

Davis responds that Chapman and the apple marketing order are doing the best they can, given what they have to work with, and that Acquafresca is only partially correct in his interpretation of why Colorado's apples are disappearing from the state's stores. She says the shrinking market is the result of a consolidation of supermarket chains--which prefer to buy apples from a single source--and the relatively small size of Colorado's apple crop.

"The major chains, such as King Soopers and Safeway, don't look to Colorado, because with the volume they need it makes more sense to buy from Washington," she explains. "That's a real problem. And it's only going to get worse.

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