Canada: Global Fruit acquires Ontario packer

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Canada: Global Fruit acquires Ontario packer

The Canadian license holder for Red Prince apples is now vertically integrated with the purchase of a shipper, with the fruit expected to hit shelves in mid-December. Red Prince 1

Ontario-based Botden Orchards Ltd, trading under the name Global Fruit, acquired former business partner Binkley Apples in a cash deal on Aug. 16. The shipper sells to retailers in Canada including Loblaws, Sobeys, Walmart and Safeway, as well as retailers in the U.S. such as Walmart and Kroger.

Botden Orchards owner Marius Botden told his company was now in control of its apples from the rootstocks through to sales to retailers.

"We also have another unique situation in that it’s all high density orchards with all new varieties," he said.

The company has orchards across southern Ontario that also include the Ambrosia and Honeycrip varieties.

He said the company bought the rights to Red Prince in 2004, just after he and co-owner Irma Botden immigrated to Canada from the Netherlands. He added the decision to set up base in Ontario was made more than a decade ago because of its favorable growing conditions with cool nights and warm days that were beneficial for good coloring and brix.

"The nice part is that it [Red Prince] comes on the market in December and most of the other varieties are done then; we have to put it in the storage to bring the balance between the sweetness and tanginess of the apple.

"We’re going to pick it two weeks from now but the taste is not there yet, it’s too sour. The brix is there but there’s still too much acidity in the apple, so when we store it for a couple of months the acids go down and you will taste the sugars of the apple better."

He added that the apple, with ancestors such as Golden Delicious and Red Jonathan, had good shelf life as well for both retailers and consumers.

In terms of the broader apple market, he said Canada was following European trends of a push for newer variety apples, which could be problematic for growers who did not make the change.

"Four weeks from now you will have too many varieties on the market, but it also the older varieties that will disappear sooner or later.

"When you plant the tree right now it will take three or four years before it’s in production, and the tree will last 15-20 years, so if you keep planting apples for the fresh market like Spartans, Empire or McIntosh, you have to think twice.

"Those apples could be off the shelves and the retailers will say 'we don’t want to list them anymore', but as long as the consumer keeps asking, they will keep selling them."


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