Okanogan Specialty Fruits
SUMMERLAND, B.C. — Arctic ApBitz, french fry-resembling dried apple slices made from genetically modified, non-browning apples, began selling on Amazon this week.
It’s the latest product from Okanogan Specialty Fruits, of Summerland, B.C., which sold its first fresh-sliced, snack-pack Arctic apples last November.
“We decided to make Arctic ApBitz dried apples available online via Amazon.com so that everyone in the U.S. would have access to our sweet and crunchable ApBitz snacks,” said Neal Carter, OSF founder and president.
He said he’s often asked where Arctic apples can be bought and since young orchards are still getting started the supply is limited. ApBitz sell on Amazon for $19.99 for 12 snack-size bags.
Just 40,000 to 50,000 pounds of fresh-sliced Arctic Goldens (Golden Delicious) sold in 70 stores under three retail banners across the Midwest and in the Southeast in November. Some 120,000 to 130,000 pounds of the 2017 crop was held back for ApBitz this spring. Whole, bagged apples maybe test marketed next fall.
The apples are genetically modified to prevent browning when sliced, bitten or bruised. It was done by “silencing” a gene to reduce the enzyme polyphenol oxidase. That allows OSF to tout its fresh and dried sliced apples as preservative-free. Other manufacturers of fresh and dried sliced apples use chemical additives to prevent browning but it can alter flavor.
Other than the Arctic brand being synonymous with genetically modified, there is no GMO labeling. However, the packaging has a link to the company website that explains the genetic modification.
Carter said ApBitz were developed to avoid wasting apples that were not suitable size for fresh slicing.
In coming years, the company will offer Arctic Granny Smith, Fuji and Gala. All but the Gala have been approved as safe in the U.S. and Canada. The Gala entered the approval process more recently.
The company will have 660 acres of orchards in undisclosed locations in Washington state by the end of 2018, growing to 1,450 by mid-2019 and in 2020 will plant an additional 1,000 acres in Washington and the East Coast, Carter has said.
ApBitz are made in the same Northwest facility that currently produces fresh slices. OSF is considering several sites in Washington to build its own storage, processing and packing facility.