At Okanagan Specialty Fruits, one of the most common questions we get is, “What made you choose nonbrowning apples as your first product?”
As with most crops, there are plenty of pests that can make life very difficult for apple growers, such as fire blight and apple scab, and the majority of biotech crops to date have focused on what we call input or agronomic traits, which assist in the production of the crop. While we’re also working on solutions to some of the challenges faced by our fellow orchardists, we believe the potential impact of Arctic® apples is just as important. Nonbrowning apples don’t just benefit growers, but also packers, processors, retailers, and most of all, consumers.
Since biotech apples would be one of the first biotech foods eaten fresh, we knew it would be important to provide consumers a clear, tangible benefit. We also believe that by doing so, and being transparent in the process, we could help open the door to acceptance for other traits down the road. The biggest motivator of all, however, is the desire to help more people eat more apples.
As USDA data demonstrates, apple consumption has been steadily declining for more than two decades. Over this same time frame, the demand for prepared, ready-to-eat foods (most of them processed) has skyrocketed while the number of overweight children has tripled.
One way to stem the tide of declining consumption decline while also helping address unhealthy diets is to get kids eating more apples. Evidence conclusively demonstrates that kids will eat more apples if they’re served pre-sliced, and apples are the number one requested packaged produce item in consumer surveys. This isn’t really surprising, as most everyone loves apples and anything that can make apples more “snackable” would be a hit.
Yet, even so, less than 2% of apples are currently sold as pre-cut slices, and so few apples are sold into foodservice – the ultimate in consumer convenience – the numbers aren’t officially tracked. Why? Browning!
Not long ago, the convenience of baby carrots doubled carrot consumption and spurred creativity in the foodservice industry. Nonbrowning Arctic® apples are poised to do the same for apples and THAT’S why we choose them for our flagship product!