October 2, 2023

Okanagan Specialty Fruits opens apple processing facility

British Columbia-based Okanagan Specialty Fruits has opened its new apple processing facility on 42.5 acres in Moses Lake, Washington.

Ground was broken on the facility, which will process, slice and pack OSF’s Arctic apple products, in January 2022.

OSF’s Arctic apples are genetically engineered to prevent browning when cut and were the first genetically engineered apples approved for sale by the Food and Drug Administration in the U.S. in 2015. The company produces varieties including Golden, Granny and Fuji.

OSF’s Arctic apples are genetically engineered to prevent browning when cut. Photo courtesy of Okanagan Specialty Fruits Inc.

Neal Carter, OSF founder and president, told the Columbia Basin Herald during a Sept. 27 ribbon cutting that the concept for Arctic apples began soon after the company’s founding in 1996 in Summerland, British Columbia.

“We were picking apples and looking at bruised fruit and looking at poor returns (and) declining apple consumption,” Carter said. “At the same time, we were watching the fresh-cut produce industry, you know, the cut-and-tumbled carrots, the salad mixes and ready-prepared salads. It was just taking off, explosive double-digit growth. And it’s like, apples are not participating in this. Why? It’s because they go brown. So how do we fix this?”

OSF has more than 1,250 acres of Arctic apples trees planted in Washington, Carter said in a news release on the company’s website announcing the facility groundbreaking.

“With our continued growth, it makes sense to have a facility closer to our orchards, so we can optimize efficiencies, quality, and minimize transportation,” Carter said. “We can focus on ramping up our production capabilities and delivering superior quality product to our customers.”

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