Colruyt Group and partners innovate with two new apple varieties
Colruyt Group and fruit growers Neven Fruits Waremme, Wolfcarius Fruit Markegem and Gebroeders Bangels Gingelom have started to grow two new apple varieties: the Magic Star®, developed by Fresh Forward, and the Coryphée®, developed by family business ZOUK bvba (fam. Johan Nicolaï). The two varieties have been selected during tasting sessions by a panel of customers of Colruyt Group's different store formats. With this initiative, the group wants to offer apples that meet the customer's expectations with regards taste, colour and origin. Colruyt Group also wants to extend the season during which apples of Belgian origin are available, and at the same time emphasize the craftsmanship of local farmers. The first harvest is expected in the stores in the fall of 2019.
The two new apple varieties are the result of a cooperation at several different levels. Colruyt Group contacted fruit tree growers specialised in developing new varieties. Apart from the strict quality requirements for taste, colour and storage, the apples also had to have specific technical qualities. They had to be able to flourish in our Belgian climate and soil composition, and be environment-friendly. Several apple varieties were developed and proposed to customers during tasting sessions; they selected their favourites.
To grow the new apples, Colruyt Group closed an agreement with three of its suppliers: Neven Fruits Waremme, Wolfcarius Fruit Markegem and Gebroeders Bangels Gingelom. Together they committed to invest in these promising new varieties. Colruyt Group purchased the exclusive rights to sell the apples from the developers. The retailer also takes care of project coordination and the marketing costs to introduce the fruit to the market. The growers invest in buying the fruit trees and in production.
The supply is adapted to Colruyt Group's demand. This ensures a clear and controllable launch and it allows the group to offer a correct price to its suppliers as well as its customers. The fruit growers also received the guarantee that 'less beautiful' apples that cannot be sold, will also be recuperated. Colruyt Group will have them processed into juice or apple sauce for instance.
The two apple varieties will be grown exclusively for Colruyt Group. Planting the apple trees in the growers' orchards is spread over three years. The Magic Star® variety was started up in November 2016. The first harvest is expected in the fall of 2018 and will be available in Colruyt Group's food stores in Belgium. The exclusivity of the plantations continues until 2021. The exclusivity for the sale of the Magic Star® continues until 2022. The Coryphée® apple trees will be planted in the fall of 2017. Their first harvest is expected in the fall of 2021. The sale exclusivity continues until 2027.
With this initiative, Colruyt Group wants to offer customers fruit that meets their expectations and put the local craftsmanship in the spotlight. Jan Schockaert, in charge of Fruit purchases at Colruyt Group: "We notice that customers not just want to eat a testy apple, but also wish to consume a local product. This cooperation enables us to fulfil this wish."
This project has other objectives as well: reduce the ecological footprint of the products, set up sustainable cooperation, stimulate the sale of local products with an added value, and guarantee the producers a correct price for their fruit. Colruyt Group wants to be a pioneer in making the chains more sustainable, and consumption goods are ideal to do this.
Willy Borsus, Minister of Agriculture, applauds this initiative: "I am very pleased to see this kind of positive collaboration between a large retailer and local fruit growers, in order to be able to offer an environmentally friendly product. I of course fully support these initiatives which offer the producers new markets, and which create new responsible options for consumers."