One unique apple grower is adding a facility, expanding its crop and introducing another fruit as part of its growth plan.
Okanagan Specialty Fruits, Inc. (OSF), the producers of non-browning Arctic apples, just produced its second season of Arctic Golden apples last year. Currently it just finished harvest of its 2019 Arctic Golden Apples and will begin the Arctic Granny harvest at the end of October.
“We expect to have about 8.5 million pounds from the 2019 crop. This is a substantial volume increase over the 1.7 million pounds produced in 2018,” says Neal Carter, head of Okanagan Specialty Fruits based in Summerland, B.C. “This large volume increase opens up new opportunities for our company including new retail partnerships and our entry into the foodservice industry.”
Neal Carter of Okanagan Specialty Fruits.
On top of that, the company is also adding another variety for 2021 harvest—Arctic Fujis.
“We do have aggressive growth plans but apple trees also have their own timelines,” says Carter, adding that having planted its first orchards in 2015, its Arctic apple trees are still maturing. “It takes apple trees several years before they mature to produce their full complement of fruit. We’ve been rapidly planting trees in our orchards and currently have approximately 1,235 acres of trees in the ground,” he says. “Over the next several years we will continue to see increasing volumes as our fruit matures and we continue to plant new trees.”
Out of the orchard, OSF is also building a centralized facility in Eastern Washington to receive, store, process, package and ship its apple products. The facility, which ultimately will be approximately one million square feet, should be completed next summer in time to help accommodate those significant crop volumes. “To meet our immediate needs, we’ve expanded our processing capacity at our partner’s facility,” says Carter. “This expansion will accommodate this year’s crop and carry us through until our new facility is ready.”
At the same time, OSF is also working on developing a non-browning Arctic cherry. “We have an extremely talented science team that is always developing innovative and novel traits in tree fruit. So we’re leveraging our experience to create non-browning Arctic® cherry varieties,” says Carter.
Adding a new non-browning fruit to the family speaks to the company’s mandate of ensuring that less fruit is wasted. “Developing other value added fruit will allow us to continue our sustainability efforts, pass along the benefits to retailers and foodservice establishments and offer an unparalleled eating experience to consumers, along with hopefully increasing their desire to consume more fresh fruit,” says Carter.