Okanagan Specialty Fruits Enters Foodservice With Arctic® Apples
SUMMERLAND, B.C., CANADA - For Okanagan Specialty Fruits (OSF), offering wholesome apple products that are healthy, convenient, and delicious is at the heart of the company. As the industry continues to adapt to the changing tides, the apple purveyor is rising up to the challenge of heightening demands for safe and healthy produce. I sat down with Rebecca Catlett, Director of Marketing and Communications, to discover how Arctic® apples are shifting the flow of the category as the company enters the foodservice space.
“In the past six months, the impact of COVID-19 has heightened everyone’s awareness and the importance of reducing contact. As a result, consumers are increasingly looking for touchless packaging for their produce,” Rebecca explains. “Our Arctic apples already provide this advantage, and we are expanding our offering. Soon, we will introduce a 2 oz package that is perfect for single servings for supermarket delis, foodservice operations, and school nutrition programs across the country.”
With major changes and developments on Okanagan’s doorstep, Rebecca assures me the company is ready to meet them head-on with ample supply, including the developments of new varieties to come.
“Our crops of Arctic apples continue to grow. The volume of our Arctic® Granny and Arctic® Golden varieties is growing substantially, and we are enthusiastically anticipating the first commercial harvest of Arctic® Fuji in 2021,” says Rebecca. “Meanwhile, our Arctic® Gala is nearly through the regulatory review process, and we hope to be able to begin planting trees next year.”
For now, Arctic Granny and Arctic Golden varieties are easy to spot on retail shelves in their 5 oz and 10 oz packages. And with Okanagan entering the foodservice ring, the new variety developments would only bolster the grower’s standing.
Cut and sliced Arctic apples provide an advantage to the foodservice and retail space due to their non-browning trait. Thanks to the lack of visible oxidation on the apple’s flesh and their extended shelf-life of 28 days from the day they are sliced, there is a “fresh from the orchard” taste and less food waste.
“We are currently pursuing foodservice partnerships on several fronts, including distribution channels with retail deli outlets and convenience stores. In addition, we are developing a chef influencer program and looking at menus to see where our apples would work great,” Rebecca shares with me. “The science of Arctic apples offers a solution to browning apples that translates to less food waste from harvest to the consumer. Because of the non-browning trait of Arctic apples, we can bring fresh apples to menus and venues that previously would not have been suitable.”
OSF’s outreach also includes activations with Produce For Kids, BuildUp Dietitians, and Produce for Better Health. In December, Okanagan Specialty Fruits will be a proud sponsor of The Culinary Institute of America’s 2020 Healthy Kids Summit. The national virtual food summit will bring together school nutrition culinary leaders to explore and discuss how to bring more healthy food options to young consumers.
As the industry continues to evolve, we here at ANUK will report on the latest partnerships, innovations, and updates in the fresh produce sphere, so keep checking back for more.