Arctic Apple company sold

Okanagan Specialty Fruits has been drawing attention for its development of an apple that doesn’t turn brown after slicing.

Summerland’s Okanagan Specialty Fruits has been drawing international attention over the last few years for its development of an apple that doesn’t turn brown after slicing.

They’ve also drawn the attention of a major player. On Feb. 27, Neal Carter, founder of OSF, announced the company had been sold for $41 million to Intrexon, a U.S. company that styles itself as a leader in synthetic biology.

“We feel this acquisition can be viewed as a very positive development for the local community,” wrote Carter in an email interview. “Okanagan Specialty Fruits will remain based in Summerland. We are pleased to share that Intrexon intends to retain all current staff.”

Through the acquisition, Intrexon expands its food programs to include trees yielding fruit that is more appetizing and convenient for consumers while providing economic benefit throughout the tree fruit supply chain.

Carter, who will also remain with OSF after the acquisition is complete, developed his line of Arctic Apple varieties using genetic techniques to switch off the gene that controls the enzyme that turns the white flesh of apples brown after exposure to air.

“We have certainly received a great deal of interest from a variety of sources, and as expected, the foodservice industry is among those who recognize the value of the nonbrowning trait,” wrote Carter noting that currently, fresh cut apples must be treated with anti-browning solutions, adding cost and interfering with flavour.

“The potential is huge in areas like cafeterias, for example. In fact, a recent study from Cornell found that schoolchildren eat about 70 per cent more apples if they’re served pre-sliced rather than whole.”

Arctic Apples recently gained regulatory approval in the U.S., and are well on their way through the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s process. The company expects Canadian regulators to grant commercial approval to Arctic apples in the near future. Carter said it is unfortunate that the BC Fruit Growers Association has taken a stand against biotechnology.

“Even if they are not interested in supporting Arctic apples, many others are; we have received significant interest in Arctic apples from a substantial number of growers and other members of the apple supply-chain,” Carter writes. That interest is echoed by consumers, according to their own studies and taste test comparisons.

Carter said their technique doesn’t introduce any foreign genes into the apple, instead using one of the apple’s own genes to make the changes. OSF has put the apples through years of field testing in their quest to gain regulatory approval for the Arctic Apple line, which includes genetically modified versions of granny, golden, Fuji and gala apples.

“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,” said Thomas R. Kasser, PhD, senior vice president and head of Intrexon’s food sector.  “Through this acquisition, we can deliver more accessible and affordable choices of high-quality foods for an ever-growing population.”

They’ve also drawn the attention of a major player. On Feb. 27, Neal Carter, founder of OSF, announced the company had been sold for $41 million to Intrexon, a U.S. company that styles itself as a leader in synthetic biology.

“We feel this acquisition can be viewed as a very positive development for the local community,” wrote Carter in an email interview. “Okanagan Specialty Fruits will remain based in Summerland. We are pleased to share that Intrexon intends to retain all current staff.”

Through the acquisition, Intrexon expands its food programs to include trees yielding fruit that is more appetizing and convenient for consumers while providing economic benefit throughout the tree fruit supply chain.

Carter, who will also remain with OSF after the acquisition is complete, developed his line of Arctic Apple varieties using genetic techniques to switch off the gene that controls the enzyme that turns the white flesh of apples brown after exposure to air.

“We have certainly received a great deal of interest from a variety of sources, and as expected, the foodservice industry is among those who recognize the value of the nonbrowning trait,” wrote Carter noting that currently, fresh cut apples must be treated with anti-browning solutions, adding cost and interfering with flavour.

“The potential is huge in areas like cafeterias, for example. In fact, a recent study from Cornell found that schoolchildren eat about 70 per cent more apples if they’re served pre-sliced rather than whole.”

Arctic Apples recently gained regulatory approval in the U.S., and are well on their way through the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s process. The company expects Canadian regulators to grant commercial approval to Arctic apples in the near future. Carter said it is unfortunate that the BC Fruit Growers Association has taken a stand against biotechnology.

“Even if they are not interested in supporting Arctic apples, many others are; we have received significant interest in Arctic apples from a substantial number of growers and other members of the apple supply-chain,” Carter writes. That interest is echoed by consumers, according to their own studies and taste test comparisons.

Carter said their technique doesn’t introduce any foreign genes into the apple, instead using one of the apple’s own genes to make the changes. OSF has put the apples through years of field testing in their quest to gain regulatory approval for the Arctic Apple line, which includes genetically modified versions of granny, golden, Fuji and gala apples.

“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,” said Thomas R. Kasser, PhD, senior vice president and head of Intrexon’s food sector.  “Through this acquisition, we can deliver more accessible and affordable choices of high-quality foods for an ever-growing population.”

 

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