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US: Commercial nonbrowning apples planted

The first Arctic® apple orchards have been planted in major United States apple growing regions such as the Pacific Northwest and the mid-Atlantic. While less than 50 acres of Arctic® apples are currently planted, future plans entail hundreds of acres to be cultivated. “The first commercial Arctic® apple trees were planted this spring. We will have small, test market quantities of Arctic® apples available for in-store testing in the fall of 2017,” explains Neal Carter, president of Okanagan Specialty Fruits. “At this point, our trees are in the ground for 2015 and we are in a business planning mode.”

First truly nonbrowning apple
As opposed to some highly publicized low-browning and slow-browning apple varieties, Arctic® apples are a unique product in that they are not only the first biotech apple, they are also the only truly nonbrowning apple. Therefore, Arctic® apples are in a great position to create a currently untapped market. “Presently, we remain primarily focused on ensuring the successful market introduction of our first two nonbrowning varieties, Arctic® Granny and Arctic® Golden,” states Carter. “We also hope to introduce additional nonbrowning varieties such as Arctic® Gala and Arctic® Fuji in the coming years.”

Emphasis placed on communication with consumers
Since Arctic® apples will be the first biotech apples to enter the market, Okanagan Specialty Fruits is placing the utmost emphasis on open communication and transparency. The main goal is to increase apple consumption while reducing waste, goals which Okanagan Specialty Fruits believes Arctic® apples can contribute to. Consumer research conducted by Okanagan Specialty Foods indicates that consumer concerns about biotechnology are often overstated. The research also found that, the more education consumers receive about the science behind Arctic® apples and the benefits they offer, the greater their support. “It continues to be OSF‘s plan to assist in branding and the market introduction of Arctic® apples to ensure consumer education and awareness,” adds Carter.

Nonbrowning benefits consumers and supply-chains
Although a nonbrowning apple may seem like a minor enhancement to some, the benefits to consumers and the rest of the supply-chain are substantial. Consumers clearly see browning as an issue, especially considering the ever-rising demand for convenience foods and healthy snacks in particular. Growers and packers will see less fruit downgraded and wasted due to superficial bruising. Processors will not have to use costly anti-browning solutions that comprise up to 40% of processing costs and can impart an “off-taste” onto the fruit.

Positive consumer response
When surveyed, 86% of consumers explained they were more likely to buy Arctic® apples after learning they could be cut and stored in the fridge for several days without browning. 85% said they were more likely to purchase after learning they could save consumers money by reducing waste. “It’s clear that consumers will more readily embrace biotech foods that offer them tangible benefits,” declares Carter, “So, nonbrowning apples, which do just that, can potentially open the door to many more beneficial biotech enhancements for apples and the rest of the produce arena.”

Strong interest from Canadian and American growers
The benefits of Arctic® apples’ nonbrowning trait make them suited to a wide variety of products and markets. Arctic® trees have seen a strong interest from large and small growers alike throughout Canada and the United States. Retailers and foodservice companies have expressed interest in sampling Arctic® apples. “We see freshcut apples as one particular area where nonbrowning is especially valuable, but the commercial introduction of Arctic® apples has been, and continues to be, an evolving process,” adds Carter.

For more information please contact:
Joel Brooks
Marking Communications Specialist
Okanagan Specialty Fruits
[email protected]