'Magic Star', the innovative Belgian apple variety, is back on the shelves at Colruyt Group stores again
Magic Star is a new Belgian apple variety developed two years ago for Colruyt Group. The apples go back on sale today exclusively at Colruyt Lowest Prices, OKay, OKay Compact and Spar Colruyt Group. Availability was limited to just 200 tonnes of apples last year, so they were only on sale for around ten weeks. This year's harvest is at least five times that amount, so Colruyt Group can start selling Magic Star apples a month earlier and anticipates that they will be available through to the summer. Perfect proof that we are achieving our core objective of extending the Belgian apple season.
Although the apple trees were only planted three years ago in 2016, the yield is already exceeding all expectations. "We're very happy with both the volume and the quality", says Jan Schockaert, who is responsible for buying fruit at Colruyt Group. "The fact that such young trees are already producing such large quantities of apples is promising for the future. The excellent quality is down to our growers' expertise – and the protective netting over the orchard." Together with the growers, Colruyt Group invested in this netting to protect the trees against hail, but it also proved to be effective against the extreme heat of last summer. "It was obvious that Magic Star apples had fewer brown patches than other apples, so we were able to sell more of them as eating apples."
And this meant that Colruyt Group has more than achieved its second objective of supporting fruit growers. The group is still working with the same three growers that it started with: Neven Fruits in Waremme, Wolfcarius Fruit in Markegem and Gebroeders Bangels in Gingelom. They grow this new variety exclusively for Colruyt Group and, in return, the Group commits to buying all the apples from them, even the ones that don't meet the standards for class 1. These include apples that are too big or too small, or where the skin is damaged, so they cannot be sold as Boni Selection eating apples.
We're now using these lower-quality Magic Star apples in two new Boni Selection products: apple cake and apple juice. The Boni Selection apple cake has contained Magic Star apples since last spring and Colruyt Group starts selling Magic Star apple juice in 3-litre containers in mid-January. Currently, we're also investigating potential uses in other products, including apple crisps, sparkling apple wine and apple sorbet. Thanks to these side products, there's practically no waste from Magic Star apples. "We're also finding that a lot of other growers, including foreign ones, are very interested in the Magic Star as a new variety of apple", concludes Jan Schockaert. "As far as we're concerned, we've already got a real success story on our hands, even though we're only just getting started."
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Colruyt Group operates in the food and non-food distribution sector in Belgium, France and Luxembourg, with more than 600 own stores and about 580 affiliated stores. In Belgium, this includes Colruyt, OKay, Bio-Planet, Cru, Dreamland, Dreambaby, Bike Republic and the affiliated stores Spar and Spar Compact. In France, in addition to Colruyt stores, there are also affiliated Coccinelle, Coccimarket and Panier Sympa stores. The group is the majority shareholder of the chain that comprises ZEB, ZEB For Stars, The Fashion Store and PointCarré. Solucious delivers foodservice and retail products to professional customers in Belgium (hospitals, SMEs, the hospitality sector, etc.). The other activities comprise the sale of fuel in Belgium (DATS 24), print and document management solutions (Symeta Hybrid) and the production of green energy (Eoly). The group employs over 30.000 employees and recorded a EUR 9,5 billion revenue in 2019/20. Colruyt is listed on Euronext Brussels (COLR) under ISIN code BE0974256852.