Not your average biotech fruit company
Okanagan Specialty Fruits Inc. (OSF) began as a small, dynamic agricultural biotechnology company based in Summerland, British Columbia, Canada. Founded in 1996, OSF specializes in developing tree fruit varieties with novel attributes that benefit fruit producers and consumers alike. OSF is one of the first firms to pursue the use of biotechnology to deliver product innovations to the tree fruit industry.
OSF is led by apple and cherry grower Neal Carter. Through his work across the globe as a bioresource engineer, Neal became convinced of the opportunities offered by biotechnology.
OSF’s world-class science team works collaboratively with many of the world’s leading tree fruit research institutions.
OSF will change the way people think about and experience tree fruits; our creative product development and commercialization expertise will open the door to novel, exciting, specialized fruits that support the evolving healthy diet choices of today’s consumer.
Develop a vertically-integrated Arctic® business that maximizes value capture from concept to consumer, while establishing a produce brand from which we can leverage our know-how to develop and commercialize additional Arctic® tree fruits.
A revolutionary innovation: Nonbrowning apples
OSF’s flagship project is the development and commercialization of nonbrowning Arctic® apples. Arctic® apples’ nonbrowning trait offers valuable benefits for all members of the apple supply chain, from growers to consumers.
OSF holds worldwide intellectual property rights in compositions and methods for regulating expression of polyphenol oxidase (PPO) genes to control enzymatic browning in tree fruits. By reducing the expression of PPO, OSF is developing tree fruits with inhibited enzymatic browning.
The model: Deliver consumption triggers
Having watched how “baby” carrots created a major consumption trigger for the carrot category, OSF envisions similar opportunities exist for apples and other tree fruits.
U.S. domestic apple consumption has been flat to declining for decades, despite calls for consumers to adopt healthier diets to combat obesity and related chronic diseases.
Based on consistent feedback from market research conducted from 2007 to present, especially among consumers, significant demand for nonbrowning apples exists. OSF has received strong indications from all sectors – growers, retailers, processors and consumers – that nonbrowning apples offer tangible benefits and will be readily sought out by consumers.
Proceeding conservatively, with an eye to consumer benefits
Empathetic to potential concerns over consumer acceptance of foods enhanced through biotechnology, OSF takes a proactive approach to transparency and open communication. We actively engage with all stakeholders and provide readily accessible information on our company, products and science. We are committed to improving the food we grow and consume through safe, cutting-edge science.
We see the benefit of using every tool in the toolbox to develop new products, including utilizing genetic engineering and advanced molecular biology tools. We believe strongly in their value; with our focus being on using 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 and work hard to be at the forefront of the latest genetic techniques.
Finally, we believe a strong emphasis on delivering consumer value will best serve consumers, our company and our fellow members of the tree fruit industry.
Backed by Intrexon, a leader in synthetic biology
In April 2015, Intrexon Corporation (NYSE: XON) completed their acquisition of Okanagan Specialty Fruits. Recognizing the value of OSF’s vision and innovative team, Intrexon has committed their support for Arctic® apple varieties and additional biotech-enhanced produce in the pipeline. OSF’s mission to improve the efficiency of food production while increasing consumer appeal is well supported by Intrexon’s mission to improve the quality of life and the health of the planet.