Arctic® apples’ innovation born of a real need

Two of the questions I’m asked the most are why I formed Okanagan Specialty Fruits, and why I chose a nonbrowning apple as our first project. The answers to those questions converge.

So how does an apple grower get interested in biotechnology? First, apple growing can be a tough business; apples and apple trees are threatened by numerous pests and diseases. For example, on my farm in British Columbia, we constantly battle insects such as aphids, and diseases such as apple scab and mildew. I believe that biotechnology can help growers like me better protect our trees and fruit, with less reliance on chemicals, even organically-registered chemicals. Second, I’ve had the good fortune to work in agriculture all over the world as a bioresource engineer. I’ve seen firsthand what biotechnology has done for other crops that offer very real world benefits, including golden rice.

And why a nonbrowning apple? I’ve been watching apple consumption trends over time, and I don’t like the direction they are heading in at all. Faced with increasing rates of obesity and related diseases, consumers are being barraged with messaging to eat more fruits and vegetables. And while fresh produce consumption has upticked a bit in the United States, apple consumption has been flat to declining. I feel our industry needs to get consumers excited about apples again, that we need products that better meet consumer demand for taste and convenience.

A nonbrowning apple can do both. Arctic® apples are more convenient than their browning counterparts, meaning fewer apples get thrown away and you our apple consumers save time and money. In addition, the phenolics that contribute to an apple’s flavor and aroma are maintained in Arctic® apples, whereas in non-Arctic® apples they are consumed by the browning reaction. And fresh-cut slices made from Arctic® fruit won’t require the current nonbrowning treatments that can blunt the apple’s natural flavor.



OSF is a small company – we aren’t trying to dominate the global apple market, or force Arctic® apples on anyone who doesn’t want them. (In fact, we’re going to voluntarily label Arctic® apples, so that we are as transparent as possible with you, the consumer.) We think that a lot of moms in particular will appreciate the value that we can bring to your families: eating more apples means healthier, better tasting snacks and meals, and throwing fewer apples away means food cost savings in the process.

Those are benefits that can appeal to everyone, and my family is honored to bring Arctic® apples to your family one day soon.

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  1. Francesca Stefanato

    I’m extremely curious about the differences, if any,  between “arctic apples” and non silenced lines in postharvest and regarding plant pathogens. A non browning apple could be a useful tool to study the importance of antioxidant reaction during pathogenesis, that is often rather difficult to investigate as both the pathogen and the host often oxidative burst to kill cells under attack, or during attack.
    Are there any publications available?
    Thanks a lot for any information.

    • Joel

      Hi Francesca,

      Thanks for your question! I’ve asked our head scientist, Dr. John Armstrong, to follow up with you directly via email – hopefully he can provide some good info for you!