Developers of new apple and pear varieties are closely watching the ongoing legal battle over Pink Apple royalties. A horticultural conference on the Gold Coast has brought together industry players, to discuss promotions and unveil new varieties. Among the fruit attracting the most attention was the Papple, a cross between Chinese and Japanese pears The first season, which was grown in northern Victoria, was all but wiped out during two hail storms late last year. “It’s probably going to be delayed, unfortunately as we wait to see if the trees recover after last year’s hail storm,” said Gavin Porter, from the fruit’s developers Australian Nurserymen’s Fruit Improvement Company, of the fruit hitting supermarket shelves. The Papple is a low acid, crisp and juicy fruit that resembles a Nashi pear and is designed for Asian consumers. Another of the new varieties is the Bravo, which entered the market this year at around $12.99 a kilogram. It has a rich maroon skin, with white flesh, and a sweet crisp taste. Growers and members of a WA cooperative are the early adopters, with bravo growing in up to 20 orchards. “It was developed at the same breeding company with the WA Department of Agriculture and Food that brought the Pink Lady to the world,” said Fruit West Cooperative executive officer Nadia Stacey. Both varieties are targeted for the export market.
Pink Lady global legal battles
Owned by Apple and Pears Australia Limited, the Cripps Pink trees that grow Pink Lady apples were developed 25 years ago. It’s the most popular trademarked apple in the world, with $1.5 billion in sales each year. APAL took an American company to court, after that company claimed ownership of the trademark in Chile in September 2013. APAL argued it was a brazen use of the variety, but lost the first round in court. It appealed in February this year, and is awaiting judgement by the Victorian Supreme Court. Royalties from sale of the apples returns $20 million a year for APAL, which it invests in promotion and marketing, including a full time brand manager based in Kuala Lumpur and a full time trademark attorney. Aside the case in the Victoria, APAL is in a legal fight against a Pink Lady brand of cigarettes in Germany. “The court has issued an injunction to stop the tobacco company and we’re waiting to see what the company does,” APAL’s Gary Langford said.
Deals with supermarkets
The Apple and Pear industry has begun a concerted effort to work with supermarkets, Coles, Woolworths, Aldi and Costco to try to sell more branded apples. APAL wants consumers to buy one more apple snack a year, and a heavier bag of apples each time they shop, in order to increase the current retail value of $655 million, by $27 million. APAL chief executive John Dollison conceded growers remained concerned about supermarket discounting. “It still goes on but the difference is we’ve opened up a relationship with the major supermarket chains to work with them,” he said. “Obviously they want to increase their margins, but so do the growers, so having a relationship can only be good for the industry.”