Dr. Desmond (Des) O’Rourke is the founder and CEO of Belrose, Inc., world fruit market analysts. He has two degrees from his native Ireland, a BA in Classics from Queen’s University, Belfast, and a B.Comm from University College, Dublin, and his MA and PhD in Agricultural Economics from the University of California, Davis. After joining the Agricultural Economics faculty at Washington State University in 1970, he worked in research, outreach, and administration for that state’s diverse fruit industry, and on international marketing of a wide range of Pacific Northwest products as Director of the IMPACT (international Marketing Program) from 1985 to 2000.
Since 1970, he has been the leading analyst of the economic implications of new developments in plantings, production, storage technology, international marketing, processing and industry structure for apples, pears and sweet cherries. Recent focus has been on assessing the prospects for new varieties of apples and sweet cherries.
He is author of four books, over 200 professional papers, numerous articles in popular journals, and chapters on economics and marketing in numerous fruit compendiums.
Des has lectured on global fruit issues to diverse audiences at conferences in North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Oceania (Australia and New Zealand).
Des has consulted with leading public and private organizations around the world, including:
- Washington Apple Commission (apples)
- Washington Tree Fruit Commission (sweet cherries)
- Deciduous Fruit Producers Trust (Industry strategy, South Africa)
- ENZA Limited, New Zealand (apples)
- BC Fruit Growers Association (fruits)
- Produce Marketing Association (China produce market)
- American Farm Bureau (apple juice)
- Postharvest Institute for Perishables (produce)
- Chemonics International/USAID (Jordan produce marketing project)
- International Agricultural Development Service/USAID (Egypt produce marketing project)
- Schell & Delamer (Oil spills and seafood)
- Mt Hood Meadows (pears)
- Sun World (crop forecasting)
- Lawry Foods, (apple price forecasting)
- American Potato, (potato price forecasting)
- Abbott Laboratories, (economic assessments)
- Valent Biosciences, (economic assessments)
- TIAA-CREF Pension Fund (investment opportunities)
Des is on his fifth four-year term with the Washington Governor’s Economic Advisory Council. Other public service highlights include:
- President, Food Distribution Research Society, 1995-96
- Board member, Washington Technology Center, University of Washington, 2000-2011
- Founder and Chair, USDA, National research project, “China as a Market and a Competitor”