Frequently Asked Questions

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Arctic Apples

Because we started out growing food, we know that transparency and engagement are important to our consumers. So if there’s something you want to know about Arctic® apples, just ask us and we’ll answer your questions as best we can. If we haven’t answered your question here, contact us.

Who is Okanagan Specialty Fruits and what do they do?

Okanagan Specialty Fruits (OSF) is a family-founded tree fruit company specializing in modern approaches for producing high quality tree fruits. The first commercial products are nonbrowning Arctic® apples, starting with Arctic® Golden & Arctic® Granny. These apples will be test marketed with the 2016 harvest, followed by a stepped commercial launch starting in 2017. So what makes an apple Arctic®? They are great at retaining their natural color and won’t brown when bitten, sliced or bruised – a benefit that can boost apple consumption and help to reduce food waste. We also have additional tree fruit varieties in development!

OSF is a credible and renowned expert in improving tree fruits

The OSF team is highly credentialed with leading expertise in biotechnology and tree fruits and is sought out for partnerships and collaborations by government and research organizations.

Why develop nonbrowning apples?

What are the benefits of non-browning Arctic® apples?

  • Less waste will result for every apple that has unnecessarily gone to waste because of a little superficial browning when it got bumped or bruised, there’s a whole lot of wasted environmental resources behind it, not to mention the time and money along the value chain from growers to consumers!
  • While slow or low-browning apples may help, no other approaches are as effective as the non-browning Arctic® apples for protecting an apple’s fresh natural color and reducing food waste.
  • Growers suffer from lower apple grading and packouts because of unnecessary browning, so non-browning apples can help to improve their returns and reduce the number of cast-offs. This not only saves money, it also supports more sustainable growing.
  • Processors have to rely on a whole bunch of expensive chemical nonbrowning treatments, which can help slow apple browning, but aren’t necessarily the preference of many consumers given the choice of apples with or without these additives. Arctic® apples do not have these same treatment needs, so it will be easier and less expensive to produce higher-quality products that retain the fresh natural color of apples when you go Arctic®.
  • Retailers can sell more apples when they are Arctic® because they are better protected from unnecessary browning. There are also exciting opportunities for new apple products such as apple fro-yo and smoothies that showcase the vibrant natural colors and flavors of apples.
  • Foodservice operators can benefit from exciting new menu opportunities and save time with mise en place completed well in advance without worrying about apple browning or altered flavors because of additives. Advanced prep can help save time and money.
  • Consumers can also save money, reduce their food waste and enjoy the convenience of apple snacks and recipes prepared in advance. For instance, you can save a lot of time in the mornings by preparing apple slices for kids’ snacks the night before. And since Arctic® apples don’t require additives to prevent them from browning, their fresh natural flavor can be fully enjoyed.
  • Influencers and activists are keen to learn that independent regulatory experts agree based on more than ten years of data and studies that Arctic® apples are as safe and nutritious as other apples.

Why Arctic® apples are safe (and delicious!)

  • Arctic® apples are like other apples in terms of their nutrition and composition, and even how the trees grow and behave; they just have the added benefit of better retaining their fresh natural color when they are bitten, bruised or sliced because their browning genes were switched off.
  • Arctic® apples are one of the most studied foods of all time. They have been rigorously reviewed by independent regulatory experts at the USDA, FDA, CFIA and Health Canada, based on more than ten years of data and studies, and these experts all agree that Arctic® apples are as safe as other apples.
  • Because Arctic® apples are non-browning, you don’t need to add chemical additives or souring agents when you cut them, so the only thing you taste is delicious apple!

How can you tell the difference between Arctic® apples and other apples?

  • All Arctic® apples will be clearly labeled on the whole fruit and on packaging so that consumers can clearly find and identify them when making the choice about which apples they want to buy.
  • Apples that are bitten, sliced or bruised will rapidly go brown when exposed to the air, but Arctic® apples are nonbrowning and better retain their fresh natural color.

What about other plants?

  • Because there’s no difference between Arctic® and other apple trees and fruit (until you bruise, bite or cut the fruit, that is!), these apple trees can be grown just like any other apple tree.
  • Arctic®, conventional and organic orchards can co-exist using standard growing practices.
  • If Arctic® apple tree pollen landed on another plant, neither would change because other species and the Arctic® apple pollen are not compatible. If an Arctic® apple tree pollinated a non-Arctic apple tree, which is unlikely given stewardship protocols, a small percentage of seeds might contain Arctic® But, the apple tree, fruit flesh and skin would remain that of the parent tree. That’s just how apples grow.

What are Arctic® apples?

When will Arctic® apples be available for consumers?

How will I be able to find and identify Arctic® apples?

We know apple lovers are eager to track down nonbrowning apples thanks to the Arctic Advantage, so branding with our Arctic® name and logo will always clearly identify our Arctic® apples. And, you can keep track of when and where they’ll be available by following us on social media, signing up for our email or by keeping an eye on our Find Our Apples section!

Why do most apples turn brown when bitten, sliced or bruised in the first place?

Apples contain an enzyme called polyphenol oxidase (PPO) that typically initiates a chemical reaction that causes browning when an apple is bitten, sliced, or bruised. No meaningful role identified for PPO in today’s apple production. In fact, PPO levels vary widely among different apple varieties and even Arctic® apples have some PPO – just not enough to initiate the browning reaction.

Do Arctic® apples have the same nutrition as other apples?

Yes! The nutritional content of Arctic® apple varieties has been rigorously analyzed to prove they are just as healthy as their browning counterparts. And, while the browning reaction typically “burns up” healthful content such as antioxidants and vitamin C when an apple is bitten, sliced, or bruised, this is not the case with Arctic® apples!

What varieties of Arctic® apples are there?

The first two varieties that will be available to consumers will be the Arctic® Granny and the Arctic® Golden. Currently, Arctic® Fuji is next in line with others planned to follow! Check out our Arctic® Apple Varieties section to learn more.

Why are some people opposed to Arctic® apples?

Consumers are passionate about their food (as are we!), which leads to a diversity of opinions and interests. Arctic® apples are developed using modern biotechnology grown with state-of-the-art growing practices; this unique approach can sometimes lead to confusion or apprehension. As a result, some people have voiced concerns or raised questions about the need for testing. What many don’t realize, however, is that there is an extremely rigorous process that all biotech foods must satisfy before they can be freely grown and sold, and Arctic® apples are the most studied apple there is!

Arctic® apples were grown in field trials for well over a decade and were reviewed by independent regulatory experts in Canada and the U.S. for years before receiving approval. Through this rigorous review process, more than ten years of studies were completed and data analysed to demonstrate that Arctic® apples are just as safe for humans and the environment as other apples. We discuss the science behind our apples in more depth on our company website, and encourage you to explore this information and contact us if you have any questions.

If Arctic® apples don’t brown, how can I tell if they’re old or damaged?

Arctic® apples can actually make it easier to tell when an apple is “bad”. Superficial damage that does not affect the quality of the fruit, such as minor finger bruising, won’t show on Arctic® apples. Arctic® apples looks fresh unless there is significant damage and then the apple probably shouldn’t be eaten. The type of browning Arctic® apples resist, enzymatic browning, is different from the discoloration that results when rotting from fungal or bacterial infections, and Arctic® fruit will decompose just the same as other apples.

Where can I learn more about the science behind Arctic® apples?

We have a general overview in the Introducing Nonbrowning section of this website. And, if you’re looking to really dig into the details, we have a lot more information about the science behind Arctic® apples on our company website.

Still have questions? Contact us!