An Arctic®Hat Trick: golden, granny, and FUJI

Just recently we received approval from Canadian government regulatory authorities for another apple variety: the Arctic® Fuji. This means we now have three apples in the Arctic® family – which in hockey terms would be a hat trick. (we had to say it)

With our fall 2017 inaugural launch of Arctic® Golden packaged slices in a handful of US locations we saw good response to our fresh packaged fruit. And since our Arctic® Fuji already has USDA approval, we thought it time to review how and when which Arctic® apple varieties will get from our house to yours. Because this is just the beginning.

Arctic® babies

Each Arctic® apple tree begins life as a grafted sapling in our nursery under the watchful care of agriculture professionals. When strong enough, these young trees are transplanted into our commercial orchards. It can be years before an apple tree is ready to consistently bear a load of fruit and nature can change even the best laid plans, but with patience comes reward.

Over the past two years we have planted 250 – 300 acres of apple orchards, mostly in Washington. Why there? It’s the heart of apple country and top of the 10 highest apple-producing states. To put it in perspective: the US is the second largest producer of apples in the world, with more than 322,000 acres of apple trees. Our few hundred acres seem small.

Study, hard

Biotechnology is thoroughly studied by regulatory branches of federal governments before a modified food is deemed safe. Each of our Arctic® apple varieties undergoes intense scrutiny, more than any other apples. Our science is reviewed and apples tested by molecular biologists, microbiologists, toxicologists, chemists, and nutritionists. This process can take years.

Double the effort: US & Canada

In the US we submit our apples for USDA approval and FDA consultation. The USDA develops and enforces federal laws relating to farming, agriculture, and forestry, reviewing agricultural and environmental implications. The FDA is an agency within the US Department of Health and Human Services which assures foods are safe, among other public health concerns.

In Canada we submit our apples for approval to CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) and HC (Health Canada). These two regulatory bodies work closely in a coordinated effort, and approvals can often be issued jointly between the two agencies.

Arctic Golden Slices Apples - 10oz Package

To market first the US, Canada soon after

Retail produce is a large industry and our production is still small in comparison to larger growers but we navigate the same distribution channels. At present we can seasonally supply a few US stores with Arctic® apple products, where larger producers have enough apples to fill big national chains. We plant new trees every year and expect each harvest to be larger than the last.

It’s a lot of work and you might wonder why we do it. For us, that’s the easy part: we grow Arctic® apples because we want to make a difference in reducing food waste and contribute to building a more sustainable food system. It might seem that it’s just a nonbrowning apple, but it’s our commitment to making a better food future for everyone.

Watch for our Arctic® hat trick – Golden, Granny, and perhaps maybe a Fuji or two – in fresh slice packages at a US grocery store near you this fall.

(Canada, have patience – your apples are close to follow)

About Jeannette LeBlanc

Jeannette LeBlanc is the Communications Specialist for Okanagan Specialty Fruits, and lives in the sunny Okanagan Valley. She has a keen interest in sustainable food systems and the people working on responsible ways to help feed the planet.

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