The Australian-based growers who recently secured one of just five global licenses to grow Red Moon® apples for the Australian market, hopes the first commercial crop will be planted next year.
Barolli Orchards, based in Shepparton East in Victoria, has already has three trial blocks in Shepparton, Batlow and the Huon Valley in Tasmania.
"We first got involved nearly four years ago, when mum and dad saw it in Bolzano, Italy, and it all started from there pretty much," Head of Operations, Nathan Barolli said. "We first saw it and loved it.”
The fruit will be marketed under Red Moon® Surprise Inside®, but has two varieties: RM1 and RS1. While the main feature of the varieties, which are bred in France, is the distinctly different red internal colour, Mr Barolli says the taste is just as appealing, and are scab resistant. That means they tick all the boxes for "low input“ and "responsible farming“.
"Historically, the red-fleshed varieties haven't eaten well," he said. "But the thing that is different about this is that it does eat well. While it is hard to answer what it tastes like, because taste palettes are different, it's has a mix of sweet and tartness - a good balance of both. It has high sugar, which really comes out, with that hint of tartness. But that drops away the longer it is in storage."
So far all of the consumer testing has been conducted in Europe, but the feedback has been positive, according to Barolli Orchards, with the new variety gaining plenty of traction. As well, studies have found there are a few added health benefits with the high anthocyanin levels and Vitamin C levels, compared to other apples.
Mr Barolli adds that the hectare size of the commercial crop that will be planted will depend on the markets.
"We are probably looking at a minimum of 250,000 trees Australia-wide to go into the ground over the next 10 years," he said. "So, it is all going to be market-driven, but we think a lot is going to be export-driven in regards to the variety with massive interest coming out of Asia. It is hard to put a number on it, but that is what we are aiming for at the moment."
There are currently six companies globally across five continents with a licence for the variety, and Mr Barolli says they will work together as a team to market the apples.
"We are not just confined to our own borders, or continent," Mr Barolli said. "Obviously, with us being Southern Hemisphere and Europe being Northern Hemisphere, it gives us a lot of scope to move around the world. We will be working with the Braun brothers from KIKU Variety Management heading the team, and it is awesome with the stuff they do world-wide, especially in Europe. That’s the reason we moved forward was because of the passion and expertise they bring in it. KIKU Variety Management is managing it together with other experts of the vertical chain, all assembled in the Red Moon® company."
While Red Moon® Surprise Inside® is predicted to be popular with consumers, Mr Barolli says it is also important from a grower's perspective it is important to move with the markets to keep maximising the returns.
"That's the industry and that's the way we have got to move," he said. "Everyone is trying to find the next best thing and being a grower myself it’s about being part of it. So, it is about finding those niche markets and a little bit of value add. That’s what’s so great about Red Moon® there is potential for a natural juicing side with no preservatives."
The variety will also be used for Pure Red Moon® apple juice, sparkling juice, as well as apple chips and many other products.
"The other products that red moon can create as it’s all-natural no preservatives straight juiced and taste excellent," Mr Barolli said.
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