So goes the saying, “An apple a day…” But do you really pay much attention to this beloved fruit otherwise? Apples make headlines frequently, and the past few months have been no exception. Here are a few of the latest headlines you should know about in the apple industry:
Apples become genetically modified
This is arguably one of the biggest pieces of news in the apple industry at the moment. Corn and soybeans are the most commonly known genetically modified foods, but with the Arctic variety, apples are now another type of GMO product approved by the USDA.
The Arctic Granny and Arctic Golden are two types of apples that control browning, which apples quickly suffer from as soon as their flesh is exposed to the air. Normally anti-browning additives might be used, which can be costly and use controversial chemicals, but these apples have been genetically engineered to get around the browning issue.
Once the USDA gave the Arctic apples its seal of approval, it took less than two weeks for the company that produced them, Okanagan Specialty Fruits, to enter into an acquisition agreement with Intrexon Corp. Thomas R. Kasser, Ph.D., senior vice president and head of Intrexon's food sector has high hopes for the acquisition.
In a press release, Kasser said, “Okanagan is a world leader in the development of fruit-bearing plants to express enhanced, advantageous traits with tremendous potential to revolutionize the tree fruit industry. Through this acquisition, we can deliver more accessible and affordable choices of high-quality foods for an ever-growing population.”
The apple industry has also had to deal with what The Packer calls “listeria hysteria” following a recall of Bidart Bros.’ granny smith and gala apples due to a listeria contamination. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 35 cases, 34 of which were hospitalizations, in 12 states were linked to the listeria outbreak, and at least three out of the seven deaths reported involved listeriosis. As a result, Malaysia and other Asian countries put restrictions in place on U.S. apple imports, including varieties that were not part of the recall.
Apple associations lament that this “hysteria” was due in part to no follow-up announcements following the initial outbreak announcement by the FDA. Jim Bair, president and CEO of the U.S. Apple Association, told The Packer, “(We have) already begun looking forward to next steps and what our industry can do to prevent further instances. We are considering what measures we can take to best serve the industry in providing relevant information to prevent future concerns.”
Gala, honeycrisp, fuji, granny smith—these are a few of the most common and popular apple varieties in the U.S. But one type of apple is climbing to new heights, hitting the top 10 apples in total U.S. dollar performance at No. 9: Ambrosia apples. Ambrosia ranks No. 1 out of the top 10 in terms of growth for the 13 weeks between November 2014 and January 2015.
This has effectively launched the up-and-coming apple variety from its status as “niche item to a year-round item,” says Steve Lutz, vice president of marketing for CMI Apples. According to The Produce News, this retail success can be attributed in part to a national marketing push and a 25% distribution boost.
As reported by FreshFruitPortal.com, Pink Lady America (PLA) also just announced several varieties it will add to the brand and trademark. The new additions are non-genetically modified and include Barnsby, Maslin, Rosy Glow, Ruby Pink, and Lady-In-Red (if under license). PLA's general manager Dr. John Reeves says that this move will alleviate consumer confusion and enable Pink Lady brand apples to hit grocery produce sections up to two months earlier.
Apples are a significant crop across the world, so it will undoubtedly continue to make a variety of headlines this year.