Victorian apple and pear growers can now apply for grants of up to $150,000 for netting to protect their fruit from hail and sun damage, providing a major boost to crop yield.
This month, a special kind of sliced apple will go on sale at select US supermarkets, and thanks to CSIRO research these apples won’t turn brown when they’re cut, bitten or bruised.
Arctic apples, have been developed by Canadian biotech company, Okanagan Specialty Fruits Inc. (OSF).
OSF is the first company to license CSIRO’s non-browning technology.
Their first product will be snack-sized bags of fresh Arctic Golden apple slices, with more non-browning varieties expected in future years, including Granny Smith and Fuji.
Company founder Neal Carter began working on the apples in the mid-1990s.
“I came across research from CSIRO that had managed to ‘turn off’ browning in potatoes,” Carter explained.
“As an apple grower, I was very aware that apple consumption had been declining for decades while obesity rates had simultaneously been sharply rising.
“My wife and I felt that we could help boost apple consumption through a similar biotech approach with apples, as non-browning apples would be more appealing and convenient.
“We felt this could also significantly reduce food waste, as nearly half of all apples produced end up wasted, many due to superficial bruising,” he said.
While there may be other sliced apple products already on the market, these are often coated with vitamin C and calcium to prevent browning and to preserve crispness, and this can change their taste.
Apples and other fruit and vegetables turn brown after they are cut or damaged because of a naturally occurring enzyme (polyphenol oxidase or PPO) that reacts with other components in the fruit cells when these cells are ‘broken’, producing a brown pigment.
CSIRO scientists constructed an anti-PPO gene which, when inserted into plants, blocks the production of PPO and therefore stops the browning.
Spoilage due to browning costs food processing industries worldwide millions of dollars each year in wastage and costly chemicals to prevent the reaction.
This non-browning technology has potential to reduce waste not only in apples and potatoes but also in other important horticultural crops, such as beans, lettuce and grapes where produce with only small injuries could still be sold.
Hong Kong consumers will get a taste of the Southern Forests with a shipment of Granny Smith apples scheduled to arrive following dispatch from Manjimup via Fremantle this morning.
The container holds 1200 Genuinely Southern Forests branded cartons, with majority of the 90,000 apples also carrying the Genuinely Southern Forests labels, a key selling point to the order request.
Executive Chairman of the Southern Forests Food Council Bevan Eatts said the Food Council, and in particular John Kilrain, had worked extremely hard with its members to consolidate the order request with a number of growers supplying fruit of all sizes.
“We have been undertaking export development discussions for the past couple of years and through our export partnership with Allstates Farms coming to fruition, the Food Council now has the ability to export a variety of Southern Forests produce, including these apples, to international markets,” said Eatts.
The Southern Forests provides 50% of Western Australia’s total apple production. With domestic apple pricing this season at an unsustainable price point for growers, the shipment is a significant achievement for the region.
“This order should give growers confidence in the fact that export opportunities do exist. The Food Council is in the unique position to have the ability to work with buyer requests as they are presented, and our partnership with Allstates Farms provides the avenue to supply these requests.” said Eatts.
The Southern Forests region includes the towns of Manjimup, Pemberton, Northcliffe and Walpole resulting in an extensive range of over 50 fruits and vegetables grown by member producers with variety of produce including apples, avocados, brassica, stone fruit and potatoes in addition to value added grocery products including honey, wine, green tea and sparkling juices.
A Committee of Management, together with Southern Forest Food Council staff, bring the region’s world- class and varied produce to domestic and overseas markets; and play an integral role in unifying the area’s diverse producers to strengthen economic performance, attract further investment, create sustainable employment and promote regional pride.
GP Graders has entered into a technology partnership with Ellips of Holland to revolutionise the ability for apple packers to identify apples with internal defects in order to meet the increasing supermarket demands which is crippling the industry.
“This cutting-edge technology will change the industry, and strengthen the packers ability to provide defect free apples to supermarkets,” said Stuart Payne, Managing Director, GP Graders.
The system uses light spectrometer technology and takes 10 images sliced across each apple to detect internal browning and core rot wherever it is located in the fruit.
The technology doesn’t just shoot a beam of light through the centre of the apple to look at the core in isolation, it also analyses the entire mass of the apple, slicing the apple at 10 incremental stages in order to check for internal rot or browning wherever it is located through the fruit. This is a standout feature of the technology as older technology only took one light image through the centre of an apple.
Ellips Chief Executive Officer, Erwin Baker oversaw the installation operating first hand at GP Graders’ head office in Melbourne, Australia, where the technology has been fitted to an operating apple line.
Bins of apples were run through the system allowing GP Graders to intensively test and demonstrate the technology.
“The results were remarkable,” said Payne.
Of those apples discarded to an exit with a reading of internal browning and core rot, 100% of them in fact showed those characteristics when cut open. Of those apples that were deemed not to have a reading of internal or core rot, only one single apple showed specific characteristics when cut into during the collation of test results. The total sample size was 1,500 apples.
On-site visits to GP Graders manufacturing plant to see the live demonstration of the technology working will be available until mid August with several sales already being concluded within days of its release.
GP Graders have been designing and manufacturing turn-key apple grading and packing lines since their beginning in 1963 with hundreds of packing lines in operations throughout Australia and the world.
Finding small windows of opportunity on the other side of the world and using technology to pinpoint specific flavours is helping an Australian apple producer reach new markets.
Lenswood Apples in the Adelaide Hills grows, packs and markets more than 20,000 tonnes of fruit annually, which accounts for 70 per cent of South Australia’s apple crop and nearly 10 per cent of Australia’s national production.
The co-operative began an expansion push in 2010 and now exports about 2000 tonnes a year to eight countries across Asia, the UK and Middle East.
It recently delivered 50 shipping containers of premium Pink Lady apples to the United Kingdom following a deal with supermarket chains Tesco and Morrisons.
Lenswood Apples CEO James Walters said a hi-tech packing machine and being able to identify and act quickly on opportunities had been keys to the export growth.
“We identified there’s a four to six week window at the end of the southern hemisphere season and before the start of the northern hemisphere season where there was a gap,” Walters said.
“Countries like South Africa and New Zealand that had traditionally filled that gap were having quality issues with their fruit.
“There was an opportunity for us to do 50 or 60 containers if we could get the job done right.”
“We couldn’t have even considered it before.”
Getting the “job done right” included growing the fruit so it met EU standards and obtaining packing shed accreditation while maintaining local customers.
The 50 containers of premium apples were packed in the first four weeks of the new packing machine’s operation before making the six-week boat journey from South Australia to England.
“We went over there to see our first few containers arriving and to see very good out-turns of the fruit was pleasing,” Walters said.
“Now Southeast Asia starts to open up and we are shipping to Malaysia and Thailand now. They were existing markets but with the new equipment we are able to identify the sweeter fruit, which is what they want.
“Because Australian apple production is high cost we’re always looking for unique market opportunities, we’ve got to be quite selective and when we go we’ve got to be prepared to go pretty hard.”
Lenswood Apples looked to French company MAF Roda Agrobotic to source the $5m sorting and packing equipment.
The pre-sizer machine takes 100 photographs of each apple to instantly sort them by size, colour, grade and quality and uses infrared technology to assess sweetness levels and check for internal imperfections.
The system, which also washes and weighs fruit, has enabled the co-operative to process apples at a higher speed and more accurately and precisely than ever before.
Walters said the new line could clean and sort up to 22-tonnes an hour compared with 8 or 9 tonnes under the previous system.
It also involves a bank of screens in the control room to allow staff to monitor, analyse and select random samples for further checks.
A new focus on trademark and targeting unique fruit varieties such as Pink Lady, Rockit, MiApple and Red Love to specific markets has also been a key to growth.
“Four years ago we looked at our export and it was less than 1 per cent of our total turnover, this year it will be nearly 10 per cent and by 2020 we’d like to see it at about 30 per cent,” Walters said
“We bought our first pre-sizer in 2010 and by 2016 we’ve already had to upgrade it because the volumes have come on.
“One thing at Lenswood is we’re not scared of looking at new innovation that comes up at any time – we put the first bio-waxer in last year that polishes every apple up like a toffee apple – so we’re always looking at what we can do, whether it be pre-packing equipment, apple varieties, farm equipment, we certainly like to be on the cutting edge.”
About 30km east of the South Australian capital Adelaide, the Adelaide Hills is a long-standing apple and pear growing district, which is also gaining a global reputation as a wine region.
Lenswood Apples has this year also opened a joint venture juicing plant to add value to its off-grade fruit. The juice is predominantly sold to large-scale cider makers.
Product Name: Sassy Cider – L’inimitable
Product Manufacturer: Maison Sassy
Launch date: Late Dec '15- Early Jan '16
Ingredients: 22 Varieties of Apple Juice (Fermented), Sulphites
Shelf Life: 18 months
Packaging: 330mL & 750mL glass bottles
Product Manager: Noble Spirits
Country of origin: France
Brand Website: https://www.maison-sassy.com/
Describe the product: L’inimitable shows a perfect balance between the dry of a dry cider and the fruit of a semi dried cider. Characterised by an aromatic complexity and delicacy, this cider, served at 8°, is a perfect match for an aperitif or to go with meat, cheese (Camembert, Pont l’Evêque) or an apple dessert.
Contact Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Summer fruits are back on Australian tables. We’ve long known cherries and other stone fruits provide a range of essential vitamins and minerals. But here’s another reason to make sure they’re on the shopping list: they’re good for the brain.
Flavonoids are nutrients that contain more than 6,000 unique compounds. They’re widespread in plants, and are grouped into five subclasses: flavonols, flavan-3-ols, flavones, flavonones and anthocyanins.
The major sources of flavonoids in the diets of older Australians are black tea (89%), oranges and orange juice (2.7%), green tea (1.3%) and bananas (0.9%).
Flavonoids protect plants from microbe and insect damage, which may explain some of their observed health benefits in humans. They contribute to the sensory characteristics of foods such as flavour, astringency and colour.
Anthocyanins, for example, provide the red, blue and purple pigments in fruits such as strawberries, cherries, blueberries and plums. They’re also found in red wine, tea, coffee, and some vegetables such as red onion and cabbage.
How do berries improve brain health?
Anthocyanin-rich fruits have been shown to affect the brain in several ways. It is thought that a number of pathways work together to improve cognition and prevent degeneration of the brain.
First, the high antioxidant content of these fruits may scavenge free-radicals and reduce inflammation in the brain.
Additionally, flavonoids in the fruit have the potential to inhibit cell death of nerve cells (neurons), and improve connections between the neurons, especially in the areas of the brain associated with learning and memory (hippocampus).
Flavonoids may also disrupt the aggregation of amyloid beta (Aβ) in the brain and thereby prevent formation of amyloid plaques. Amyloid plaques are sticky buildups of these proteins which accumulate outside neurons, and are implicated in Alzheimer’s disease development.
Diet and dementia
Dementia is the single greatest cause of disability in older adults aged over 65 years and is the second leading cause of death in this age group. Even small delays in the onset of dementia and its subsequent progression will have the potential to significantly alleviate the burden of this disease on society.
Our research team has shown the potential for anthocyanin-rich cherry juice to improve memory in older adults with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s type dementia. A feasible serving of 200ml a day of juice was provided to participants in order to overcome the issue of seasonality.
After 12 weeks, people who regularly consumed the cherry juice had significantly improved scores of tests related to memory and word-recall compared to those who were provided with an alternative fruit juice that contained minimal anthocyanins.
The purple fruit frontier
As more is discovered about the health effects of anthocyanin-rich fruits, the demand for fruits with superior health benefits is growing. An Australian-bred plum developed by Queensland government scientists, the Queen Garnet, has up to five times the levels of anthocyanins present than in normal plums.
Animal studies show impressive results so far for its potential to improve health. Obese rats fed with the Queen Garnet plum juice showed that their high blood pressure, fatty livers, poor heart function and arthritis returned to normal in just eight weeks.
We are now investigating the role of the Queen Garnet plums on cognitive function in people with early signs of memory loss.
How can you be sure it’s the fruit?
Food-based studies are complex. First, we need to understand how the body metabolises the bioactive compounds.
Anthocyanins are quickly broken down in the digestive tract to a range of different digestive substances (called metabolites), many of which are excreted in the urine within about six hours. It may be the intact anthocyanin compound itself that exerts physiological effects. Or it could be one of its many metabolites.
The “dose” of anthocyanin required for health benefits, and how this can be achieved from foods remains unclear. An acute cross-over study, for instance, found the blood pressure lowering effects of cherry juice over six hours were only seen if 300ml was consumed as a single serving, rather than as three 100ml servings over three hours.
Lastly, it is likely that anthocyanins in food may interact with other nutrients, and combinations of foods may show synergistic effects. In other words, they may have a greater combined effect than if consumed in isolation.
While the role of diet for improving cognitive health looks bright (purple), a bowl of cherries won’t counteract other lifestyle factors implicated in cognitive decline. Quitting smoking, cutting down on saturated fat and being physically active are also crucial for keeping ageing brains healthy.
Boutique cider house Rebello has taken out best in class in the inaugural ‘cider with fruit’ category of this year’s Australian Cider Awards with its ‘Passionfruit Pink Lady’.
Made with Victorian grown pink lady apples and real passionfruit, Passionfruit Pink Lady was created as a limited edition range to the Cheeky Rascal Cider family, but proved was so popular, it’s now part of the core range.
As with all of Cheeky Rascal Ciders it’s made using 100% real fresh fruit, without concentrates and flavourings by third generation entrepreneurs of the Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm, Matt and Ruth Gallace.
There were 155 entries across 18 classes in the annual awards, but this was the first time a category was created for cider or perry with real fruit.
Judges described it as a “well-made, clean, bright, crisp cider with grippy passionfruit character”.
Cider Australia President Sam Reid says the addition of the new class for ciders, made with the addition of natural fruits other than apple and pear, was to ensure the awards reflect the diversity of cider styles available to and enjoyed by Australian consumers.
"Our goal is to drive and reward innovation in cider making, and it's great to be seeing some solid results in these new classes."
Rebello CEO Ruth Gallace says it’s humbling to take out the inaugural award at what is the largest cider awards in the country.
“Having a category to recognise the work which goes into blending real fruit with cider is not only validation for cider makers like ourselves who have invested heavily for many years to produce a quality real fruit cider alternative, but it also provides credibility and clarity for the customer.”
Passionfruit Pink Lady was created on the back of requests by Cheeky Rascal’s loyal followers who it canvassed asking them to identify fruits they’d like to see blended with cider.