New apple variety Soluna shows promise

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New apple variety Soluna shows promise

In November 2022, TopStar, a joint venture between Star Fruits of France and TopFruit of South Africa, introduced the Soluna apple brand. Its global launch began in 2023 with a presence in Asia and the Middle East. 

Since then, the new variety has been a resounding success with consumers, the company says. It adds that the variety has a dark burgundy color, creamy and crisp texture, balanced taste between sweetness and acidity, and slow oxidation. 

Last year, the apple was sold for the first time through WA Farm Direct, the exclusive Australian exporter licensed in Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Dubai. TopStar says the export program exceeded expectations by 15%.

Soluna accounts for 30% of total Australian apple exports.

Sales were supported by significant marketing efforts, which included campaigns on television, online sales, and food trucks, among others.

“Our first year with the Soluna brand in the market could not have been better. It was accepted in all markets and we managed to increase sales in the first year. We are looking forward to the new season,” commented Sean Engelbrecht, National Development Manager for WA Farm Direct. 

Globally, TopStar has established 62 trial sites in 16 countries, and by 2025, with additional trial developments, the ANABP 01 research program will cover a network of nearly 115 trial sites in 25 different locations internationally. 

In Europe, the variety is being tested in Italy, France, Spain, and Switzerland. Brazil, Canada, the United States, South Africa, Mexico, Chile, and Japan are also among Soluna’s current destination markets.

The cultivar is currently being introduced in India, South Korea, New Zealand, Argentina, Uruguay and China.

TopStar says that early research in Europe yielded good results on the taste and appearance of the fruit. 

A promising 2024 season is expected in Australia 

Sales volumes are forecast to increase by 10% to 15%, the company says. The harvest is almost complete, having taken two weeks throughout Australia, where all the fruit currently originates. 

Thanks to warmer summer temperatures, higher sugar content has been detected throughout the crop. 

In Australia, TopStar works closely with Fruit West, a cooperative of Western Australian growers, and WA Farm Direct, to ensure a coherent overall strategy for product development, including quality and marketing standards.

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