Red-flesh apple project goes global

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Red-flesh apple project goes global

Fruit marketers from around the world have come on board with a French initiative to trial and commercialize red-flesh apples, with expectations the varieties will be on the market within the next five to seven years.

International Fruit Obtention (IFO) has spent the last 20 years developing these varieties, which can be traced back to a common ancestor in central Asia that has been cross-bred with a range of white-flesh apples in search of the right taste profiles.

IFO has formed the IFORED partnership with 13 partners from five different continents, who will see what potential there is for these varieties that are yet to be named.

IFORED project manager Emmanuel de Lapparent told the products were crunchy and juicy, with flavors across the taste spectrum from sweet to acidic.

"We have advanced varieties and quite a large number of them, and the IFO plans to allow our partners to choose which ones they want for commercialization," he said.

"We are at the stage where we have planted pilot varieties in Europe and will be planting outside Europe in the coming years, so it will be another three to four years before we move to the commercial production phase, and another one or two years before they are on the market."

The European partners are France's AMG, Blue Whale and IFO itself, Empire World Trade and Worldwide Fruit from the U.K., Swiss company Fenaco, Italian business NovaMela, and Nufri from Spain.

De Lapparent said plant material was in the process of being taken to partners in the Southern Hemisphere, including Australia's Montague, Argentina's Mono Azul, Unifrutti in Chile, and South Africa's Dutoit. Evaluation testing is currently underway in North America through partner Next Big Thing.

These IFORED partners account for 40,000 hectares of apple orchards between them, producing around two million metric tons (MT) of the fruit each year. De Lapparent said he expected the partnership base would grow in the coming years.

He said IFO was aware that apple markets were fairly saturated with so many different types of apples, but red-flesh apples could definitely be marketed as a very distinct product.

"We see these red-flesh varieties as a very different product to the traditional apple varieties, so for us this is not a concern. We would like to expand the shelf.

He added the red-flesh apples ranged from early to late varieties, and also had a different outer colors from red to orange to  yellow.

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