Frequently Asked Questions
You have questions? We have answers.
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 (OSF) and what do they do?
Okanagan Specialty Fruits (OSF) is a small, dynamic agricultural biotechnology company specializing in developing tree fruit varieties with novel attributes. OSF’s flagship products are nonbrowning Arctic® apples, with Arctic® Golden & Arctic® Granny apples being the first to become available for sale. So, what makes an apple Arctic®? They keep their “first bite” color and won’t brown when bitten, sliced or bruised – the Arctic Advantage™ benefit can boost apple consumption and help reduce food waste. We also have additional tree fruit varieties in development.
What does OSF specialize in?
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.
What are Arctic® apples?
Arctic® apples are the same popular varieties you already know and love, with one major advantage: Arctic® apples don’t brown when bitten, sliced, or bruised. Arctic® apples have less of the enzyme that causes apples to brown from superficial damage, and offer an improved eating experience while being just as wholesome and delicious as their conventional counterparts. For more details, learn about our Arctic® apple varieties, Arctic® apple benefits and how we introduce the nonbrowning trait to your favorite apple.
Why develop nonbrowning apples?
Apple consumption has been declining in North America for decades now, despite rising obesity rates. We know consumers want to eat healthy, though, and by making apples more appealing and convenient thanks to their Arctic Advantage™ nonbrowning benefit, Arctic® apples can help get more people eating more apples while also helping to reduce food waste.
How did you improve Arctic® apples with their nonbrowning benefit?
We used the apple’s own genes to ‘switch off’ its browning genes. Typically, apples brown when bruised, bitten or sliced because of an enzyme called polyphenol oxidase (PPO). In Arctic® apples the PPO levels are too low to cause browning, but have the same nutrition, taste and everything else apple eaters love about their conventional counterparts.
What are the benefits of nonbrowning Arctic® apples?
There are numerous benefits Arctic® apples offer to consumers and the rest of the supply chain. Here are just a few:
- Less Waste from apples being thrown away due to a little browning when they get bumped or bruised. There are a whole lot of wasted environmental resources behind each wasted apple, not to mention the time and money along the value chain from growers to consumers.
- Growers & Packers often need to downgrade or waste apples because of unnecessary browning (at least 40% of apples that are produced don’t get consumed in any form), so nonbrowning apples can help to improve their returns and reduce waste. This not only saves money, it also supports more sustainable growing.
- Retailers will be able to sell more apples, and waste less, when they are Arctic® because they aren’t affected by unnecessary browning. There are also exciting opportunities for new apple products such as Arctic® apple fro-yo and smoothies that showcase the vibrant natural colors and flavors of apples. For example, usually an apple smoothie will brown without an acid like lemon juice, but that means any dairy ingredients would curdle. Since Arctic® apples don’t brown, no acid is needed so they can be enjoyed with yogurt, ice cream, and much more.
- Foodservice operators can benefit from exciting new menu opportunities and save time and resources on food preparation 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 and unparalleled eating experience of apple snacks and recipes prepared in advance. And since Arctic® apples don’t go brown, their fresh natural flavor can be fully enjoyed.
When will Arctic® apples be available for consumers?
The first commercial Arctic® apple orchards were planted in 2015, and it takes a few years for newly-planted apple trees to produce much fruit. The commercial introduction of the first Arctic® apple products was late 2017 in the U.S., and we encourage you to visit our website’s Find Our Apples section for the latest available details.
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™ benefit, 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 commercially available by following us on social media places like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, or by signing up for our email list.
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 has been identified for PPO in commercial apple production and unnecessary, superficial browning can mask a fruit’s true quality. PPO levels vary widely among different apple varieties and Arctic® apples have some PPO – just not enough to initiate the browning reaction. Fungal and bacterial contamination can also cause apple browning, even in Arctic® apples, which rot just like other apples. This means Arctic® varieties will still discolor if they go bad.
Are Arctic® apples just as nutritious 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” healthy content such as antioxidants and vitamin C when an apple is bitten, sliced, or bruised, this is not the case with Arctic® apples.
Are Arctic® apples just as safe as other apples?
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 and flavor when they are bitten, bruised or sliced. What’s more, Arctic® apples are one of the most studied foods of all time. They have been rigorously reviewed by reputable regulatory teams 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 and healthy as other apples.
How are Arctic® apple trees grown & do they affect other trees?
Because there’s no meaningful difference between Arctic® trees and other apple trees (until you bruise, bite or cut the fruit, that is), Arctic® trees can be grown just like their conventional counterparts. In all modern commercial apple orchards, even organic ones, apple trees are grown by grafting rather than by planting seeds. Even if an Arctic® apple tree pollinated a non-Arctic® apple tree, which is unlikely given the details of orchard management and apple biology, a small percentage of seeds might contain Arctic® DNA. But, the apple tree and the fruit itself would remain that of the parent tree. That’s just how apples grow.
What varieties of Arctic® apples are there?
The first two varieties that available to consumers are the Arctic® Granny and the Arctic® Golden. Arctic® Fuji is next in line with others planned to follow. Check out our Arctic® Apple Varieties section to learn more.
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 bruising, won’t show on Arctic® apples. Arctic® apples look fresh unless there is significant damage, like when the apple is starting to rot, and then the apple probably shouldn’t be eaten. Arctic® apples are not immune to browning; they just don’t produce enough of the necessary enzyme to cause oxidative browning themselves. The type of browning Arctic® apples resist, enzymatic browning, is different from the discoloration that results when rotting from fungal or bacterial infections, so Arctic® fruit will decompose just the same as other apples.
Why are some people opposed to Arctic® apples?
Consumers are passionate about food (as are we), which leads to a diversity of opinions and interests. Arctic® apples are developed using modern biotechnology and grown with state-of-the-art growing practices, a unique approach that 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 is that there is an extremely rigorous process that all biotech foods must satisfy before they can be freely grown and sold. Arctic® apples are the most studied apple there is.
Arctic® apples were grown in field trials for well over a decade and reviewed by independent regulatory experts in Canada and the U.S. for years before receiving approval. Through this rigorous review process, nearly 15 years of studies have been completed and data analyzed 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.