We are not your average fruit company
About Okanagan Specialty Fruits Inc.
OSF is a small, dynamic agriculture biotechnology company based in Summerland, British Columbia, Canada that specializes in developing tree fruit varieties with novel attributes that benefit fruit producers and consumers alike. Founded in 1996, our privately-held firm seeks out and licenses proven technologies that introduce novel attributes into new or existing tree fruits. OSF is one of the first firms in the commercial tree fruit industry to pursue use of biotechnology directed breeding to deliver product innovations.
OSF is led by apple and cherry grower Neal Carter. Neal’s work around the globe as a bioresource engineer introduced him to the opportunities offered by biotechnology. We believe strongly in the value that biotechnology can offer the tree fruit industry.
OSF is an innovative tree fruit cultivar development company that:
- Profitably commercializes new tree fruit cultivars to which value has been added through advancements in molecular biology, genomics, genetics and breeding;
- Successfully partners with collaborators to maximize the benefits of new germplasm, research, traits and enabling technologies for consumers, the industry and the company; and
- Develops unique, market-viable products that incorporate best production practices; offering enhancements in food safety, quality, nutrition, productivity and/or profitability, while addressing any stakeholder stewardship concerns.
To develop safe, high-quality tree fruit cultivars that provide growers, processors, wholesalers, retailers, foodservice and consumers with improvements in quality and productivity; and to successfully market and commercialize the first of these products.
Bring unique nonbrowning attributes to tree fruit
OSF’s first market entry is a platform project to bring a unique nonbrowning attribute into apple, a trait that is also applicable to pear and soft fruits. Our firm holds the exclusive worldwide license from Australia’s CSIRO to use the polyphenol oxidase (PPO) gene to control enzymatic browning in tree fruits. Harnessing use of this gene, in addition to other licensed enabling technologies, OSF is developing tree fruits with inhibited enzymatic browning. Nonbrowning fruits such as OSF’s nonbrowning Arctic® apples offer tremendous benefits and advantages across the tree fruit supply chain.
The model: deliver consumption triggers
Having watched how “baby carrots” have provided a consumption trigger for the carrot category, OSF’s Carter feels that a similar opportunity exists for apples and other tree fruits. Apples seem particularly ripe for a consumption trigger, as U.S. domestic consumption has been relatively flat to declining in recent years. This is despite an overall consumption uptick of fruits and vegetables in the face of calls to eat more healthfully to combat obesity and related chronic diseases.
Initial indications are that the supply chain agrees, based on market exploration research conducted by OSF in 2007 and 2011. OSF received strong indications from all sectors – growers, retailers and processors – that a nonbrowning apple might have tremendous appeal.
Proceeding conservatively, with an eye to consumer benefits
Aware of potential concerns over consumer acceptance of foods enhanced through biotechnology, OSF is intentionally taking a conservative approach to our work. As a policy, we will not add foreign gene traits to our products. While we are committed to using genetic engineering tools and believe strongly in their value, we aim to only use tree fruit genes to develop new tree fruit varieties. Further, we view gene amplification or suppression as a safe and proven approach to improve fruit quality. We are also working diligently to be on the forefront in the use of precision breeding techniques to yield desired attributes. And finally, we believe a strong focus on delivering consumer value will best serve consumers, our company and, importantly, the tree fruit industry in which we work.