Boni Selection Magic Star: apples with bite
Magic Star and Coryphée. Remember these names. They are the names of two new apple varieties, grown exclusively for Colruyt Group. The second Magic Star harvest is now available under our own brand Boni Selection, while Coryphée is expected in our shops by the end of 2020. What's exactly new about these apples? Jan Schockaert, fruit purchasing manager at Colruyt Group, sheds some light by answering our five questions.
What are Magic Star and Coryphée?
Jan: "They are both new apple varieties, the result of co-creation at different levels. Firstly, with breeders who specialise in developing new varieties. Magic Star was created by Fresh Forward, which is supported by the University of Wageningen in the Netherlands, while Coryphée was created by Zouk sprl. Secondly, with our customers, since these two varieties were selected following taste tests by a panel comprising the group's customers. Finally, there are no apples without fruit growers. To address this issue, we contacted our three most loyal suppliers: Neven Fruits Waremme, Wolfcarius Markegem and Gebroeders Bangels Gingelom."
What is special about these apples?
Jan: "We want to offer our customers top quality fruit that meets their requirements in terms of taste, texture and origin. And we also want these new varieties to offer specific characteristics such as resistance to the Belgian soil and climate, and environmentally-friendly growing requirements. Finally, having temporary exclusivity in Belgium means we can place them on the market within a strict and controllable framework. We might justifiably refer to triple added value, allowing producers to receive a fair price for their entire harvest. That is an important aspect in making a sector sustainable over the long term."
How is their cultivation environmentally-friendly and how does it promote consumer health?
Jan: "Our producers use a low-residue version of conventional farming methods. You might call it an intermediary step towards organic apple cultivation. Specifically, crops are first treated in accordance with conventional farming standards to combat any diseases that attack orchards, such as scab. Then, during the second part of the season, these treatments are performed in accordance with organic farming standards. The result: apples that contain very little or no pesticides."
How do you ensure exclusivity?
Jan: "Through a system of royalties. We pay breeders a licence and we cover the costs of managing the project and marketing expenses related to the sale of the product. The growers invest in purchasing apple trees, production and harvesting. We support them and invested for instance in nets to protect the trees against hail, which also proved very useful during the extreme heat last summer. Above all, we guarantee our growers to purchase their complete produce, even the downgraded fruit, like apples that are too big or too small or have some peel damage."
What exactly happens to this downgraded fruit?
Jan: "The apples are harvested in October and then sorted out. However, the fruit unsuited for sale does not end up in the wastebasket. We process the Magic Star apples into two Boni Selection products: apple cake and apple juice. The cake is already available and will be all year long. The juice will be in stores by the second half of January, while stocks last. We are working on apple crisps and sorbet too. In short: there’s almost no waste."
When can customers try out these apples?
Jan: "The Magic Star is available since the beginning of December at our Colruyt, OKay and Spar stores. This 2019 harvest turned out extremely well, offering sweet, juicy, aromatic and crunchy fruit. Second, our breeders managed to harvest around one thousand tons of fruit, or five times the volume of the 2018 harvest. This rich harvest enables our stores to offer the Magic Star one month earlier and to keep the apples on shelf until summer. This way, we achieve our initial goal: to prolong the Belgian apple season and to reduce the import of foreign fruit."
With this initiative, we contribute to the following Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.