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Okanagan Specialty Fruits expands Arctic family

Okanagan Specialty Fruits is gearing up for the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit, preparing to occupy booth No. 1183 at the Orange County Convention Center in October.

Neal Carter, president of the Summerland, BC-based company, said the plan at the event is to showcase how much the company has grown the Arctic family of products.wholebag golden

“Last year our Arctic Golden fresh slices were a hit with those that love the convenience of a healthy snack on the go,” he said. “But we’ve also had lots of requests from those who love crunching into a whole apple, so this year we’re excited to introduce our whole fruit, along with our new ApBitz dried apple snacks. We’re also looking forward to introducing our newest nonbrowning apple variety, Arctic Granny.”

Those stopping by Okanagan Specialty Fruits’ booth will be able to learn more about its nonbrowning Arctic apples and the benefits they can offer the entire supply chain by reducing unnecessary food waste and increasing consumption options for apples.

“2018 marks only the second year that Arctic apples will be available commercially,” Carter said. “Last year our harvest was quite modest, but we’ve been busy in the orchards planting more trees and with this fall’s harvest we expect to be able to increase availability substantially throughout the country. We’re looking forward to creating more partnerships at PMA to make that happen.”

Some of the big topics Carter expects to talk about on the show floor include unnecessary food waste and biotechnology and the benefits science can offer the food industry.

“Unnecessary food waste continues to be a problem throughout the supply chain and sustainability is important to consumers now more than ever,” he said. “The biotechnology behind Arctic apples offers a solution to prevent apples from getting thrown out due to superficial browning and bruising. Biotechnology is always a hot topic, stemming largely from the myths and misinformation that is out there.”

As the newest addition to the Okanagan Specialty Fruits’ team, JF Gamelin, director of sales, will be manning the booth, offering more information about the company’s products.

The booth will also include an Arctic apple-dipping bar, so attendees can try the nonbrowning apples themselves.

“This year, we’re also excited to introduce new packaging for all of our products, giving them a fresh look and feel,” Carter said. “Our nonbrowning Arctic apple slices will continue to be available in a convenient grab-and-go bag to make it easy for shoppers to enjoy a healthy and delicious snack anywhere. We’ll also be making our Arctic ApBitz dried apples available in two size options to satisfy big and small snack cravings. Finally, we will be offering grab-and-go bags of whole Arctic Granny and Arctic Golden apples.”

Carter is looking forward to seeing familiar faces at Fresh Summit, meeting new people and discovering what other innovative ideas are being brought to the produce aisle.

“What we always look forward to most though is getting firsthand feedback when people get to try Arctic apples for themselves and taste the difference,” he said. “The OSF team is really excited for all our new products to hit store shelves. It’s a rewarding feeling when you’ve worked so hard on something and it finally comes to fruition. We’re always working on something new and exciting around here and we can’t wait to see what idea we come up with next.”

The apple crop this year is looking to be of excellent quality and Carter noted the company is anticipating about 10 times as much fruit this year as last, allowing it to offer sliced fruit, whole fruit and ApBitz snacks in both varieties.

“Growth is always the goal. We continue planting trees, expect to expand availability into Canada next year and have started planting the next nonbrowning Arctic apple variety, Arctic Fuji,” Carter said. “We’ve also hired a new facility operations manager. That will play an integral role in the process of developing our own centralized fruit receiving, storage, processing, packing and shipping facility in Washington state. There are some pretty exciting things on the horizon.”