A Tasmanian organic apple producer is looking forward to launching a new variety onto the Australian market next year.
R&R Smith has the commercial license to a variety from Belgium called Kizuri (marketed in Europe as Morgana), Marketing and Communications Manager Jessica Calvert says the company is currently working on a name for the Australian market and will be launching the name and brand later this year.
"We are leading the development and are in the process of growing and marketing this new variety, with the support of Woolworths Organic Growth Fund," she said. "This is a large-scale, long-term process and will involve planting more than 300,000 trees between now and 2028. The apple is big, crisp and juicy and has great storability."
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The company currently grows a range of apples including: Royal Gala (available all year round), Fuji (available March-September), Pink Lady (available April-November) and Jazz In Conversion (available August-December). Orchardist and Managing Director Andrew Smith admits it has been a challenging year in Tasmania for pome fruit production, specifically under a certified organic management plan.
"Spring rain was constant from flowering in October to the end of December, followed by an extended dry spell and late autumn shut down," Mr Smith said. "There was also some hail damage in the Huon Valley which decimated a handful of growers. We are looking forward to a more normal weather pattern in 2022/23. Volumes are strong and we will harvest more than 3000 tonnes of fruit from our own farms this season. Customers can find our apples at independent retailers such as Harris Farm in NSW and Hill Street Grocers in Tasmania. We supply national wholesalers. We also have a long-standing relationship with Woolworths and have been supplying this leading supermarket since 2006 under their premium organic Macro brand. Woolworths stock a range of R&R Smith Organic apples in our compostable packaging."
Photo: TIPA home compostable packaging
R&R Smith is a fourth-generation Tasmanian producer, and Mr Smith says a key part of the company's vision is to evolve and adapt to ever-changing markets, with an ethos of continuous improvement. The business has been certified organic since 1998 and it made the switch over 20 years ago, looking to drive growth into the category.
"We do not use any synthetic products to control pests and disease, and work continually to improve soil health and tree health to maximize the quality of our fruit, as well as to lessen our impact on the environment," he explained.
"Organic farming is a holistic approach to farming that views the health of the soil, the trees and the people involved as one continuous system.
"We are NASAA (National Association of Sustainable Agriculture Australia) certified organic. We believe in the key principles of organic agriculture which include the principles of ecology, fairness, care and health. We also set out to become Australia’s first organic apple orchard to use 100 per cent certified home compostable packaging which we have just launched this month."
He added that demand for certified organic products continues to grow as consumers become increasingly interested in health and knowing where their food is coming from.
We continue to grow our business based on demand," Mr Smith said. "We also believe that our customers want sustainable alternatives to single-use plastic and we are extremely proud to introduce the first fully home-compostable package for our pre-packaged fruit. TIPA has provided the best solution for our produce, we chose TIPA due to its high regulatory certifications, ensuring authenticity and food-safe processing from the orchard to consumers."