Karst: What is the market that you see for the Arctic apple? Is it primarily the fresh cut application?
Carter: The key driver for us has always been fresh cut. Way back when we started this company and introduced this technology, it was all about getting rid of the antioxidant dips and making apples have their own natural flavor and not having the antioxidant off flavoring, and getting a better tasting, chemical free fresh cut apple out there that is competitively priced to compete with other fresh cut products like carrots, celery, peppers and other fruits. I think that continues to be where we see most of the interest. But there is a lot of interest in foodservice, using more apples in foodservice as a plate garnish and in salads, where currently apples are not being used in foodservice to any large degree. That would help increase apple consumption, which is really what is behind our whole company’s objectives.
Karst: What about labeling Arctic apples? If the Arctic apple is approved and commercialized, will it have to be labeled as genetically engineered on fresh cut bags and such?
Carter: As a company, we have taken the stand that Arctic apples will be labeled. They will have our Arctic logo on them, they will have the PLU code, and the first digit will be starting with nine, which indicates that it is genetically engineered. So our position is a bit contrary to the overall industry of biotech crops and the FDA, which is that labeling is not required. We want people to come to look for Arctic apples. It will be in the long term to our benefit. The FDA so far has not agreed with consumer groups that have advocated for labeling. When they finish with their review, they basically consider it to be like any other apple cultivar. They don’t want to single it out for labeling because there is no need for that. As a company, we think the consumer makes the decision. If the consumer wants it to be labeled, then we should listen to them, put the label on them and let the consumer make the decision.
Karst: Are you aware of any other people who are working on genetically engineered apples? Are you the only company that has been involved in this research?
Carter: There are other people doing other things. I was at a conference in New Zealand in March, and it was amazing to see all the things people are working on. These are largely government funded research institutions or universities. People who do the work and publish a paper type of thing. There is working being done for years at UC Davis, at Cornell and in New Zealand, Germany, France and Japan.