AU: Introducing naturally occurring mutations of Cripps Pink into APAL’s Pink Lady® business

The Pink Lady® brand, which was originally only licensed by Apple and Pear Australia Limited (APAL), for use in relation to the ‘Cripps Pink’ apple variety, has been a global success. The brand’s unique model ensures that only the highest quality apples can be sold under the brand - ultimately providing a higher return to growers in the market place.

The 2010 World Apple Report (Belrose Inc.) ranks Cripps Pink 13th in global production (excluding China) and is forecast to increase its ranking to 9th by 2020. This forecast will see the variety move from 2.11 per cent of global production (excluding China) to 2.28 per cent in 2020.

Growth in the brand will result from APAL licensing the Pink Lady® trade mark in relation to mutations of the Cripps Pink variety (Cripps Pink Mutations or CPMs). A mutation happens naturally when a tree produces a limb that has unique/different characteristics from the rest of the tree.

A number of CPMs have been discovered around the world and these have been protected under plant breeder’s rights and United States Plant Patents.

This has posed a range of issues for Apple and Pear Australia Limited (APAL), the owner of the Pink Lady® trade mark in more than 80 territories. These CPMs can only be accepted into the Pink Lady business if they add value to the business by way of pomological or product improvements i.e. increased colouration. The overwhelming requirement is that the CPMs must meet the strict quality standards to protect the brand’s success and ensure consumers’ expectations are always met.

APAL will, having regard to the potential value to the Pink Lady brand, decide which (if any) of these CPMs are to be approved to use the Pink Lady trade mark in the territories where APAL owns the trade mark.

To facilitate this, APAL developed a process with which the owners of any given CPM and the product itself must comply. This process was developed only after considerable consultation with those involved with APAL’s business.

Two key elements which will be considered as part of this process are:

• Fruit of CPMs must undergo rigorous consumer evaluation to ensure consumer expectations for Pink Lady quality apples are consistently met. APAL must be satisfied that the CPMs pass this test if the CPM is to be accepted into APAL’s Pink Lady business.
• Recognition of any applicable IP rights of the owner of the ‘Cripps Pink’ variety.

The CPMs ‘Rosy Glow’ and ‘Lady in Red’ (discovered in Cripps Pink orchards in South Australia and New Zealand respectively) have demonstrated these elements and have both received approval from APAL to use the Pink Lady trade mark on harvested fruit that meets the Pink Lady® quality standards in territories where APAL owns the PINK LADY trade mark.

APAL is aware of at least two earlier maturing CPMs. Although they have not been fully independently assessed, early consumer research completed has indicated these CPMs did not meet consumer expectations. Many consumers involved in this research reported that the fruit was less crisp than their usual Pink Lady branded apple – an important aspect of a Pink Lady brand apple eating experience.

A challenge for the brand is that APAL does not own the Pink Lady trade marks in all the territories, such as the USA or Mexico. Brandt’s Fruit Trees, which owns the brand in the USA and Mexico, recently announced it has introduced an early maturing CPM as a Pink Lady branded variety. These comments and statements relate only to the USA and Mexico and have nothing to do with the territories managed by APAL. APAL was not asked to assess this variety for inclusion in its global Pink Lady® brand business

It is highly likely that additional CPMs will be approved for inclusion in APAL’s Pink Lady business in the future but only after all the parameters of its protocol have been achieved.

APAL will continue to develop its global Pink Lady® brand in the best interests of its business partners, stakeholders and most importantly the consumers of high quality Pink Lady® branded apples.

For more information:
Garry Langford

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