The origin of club varieties
Peach and nectarine trees in France cost the equivalent of U.S.$16, including royalties. In the nursery, mechanical hedgers are used to trim the trees. The most commonly used stone-fruit rootstock is GF.305.
The Redwinter apple, a variety from New Jersey, was the first variety launched with a marketing plan and is considered the first managed variety, according to Philippe Toulemonde of France's Star Fruits.
New plant material protection laws in Europe in the 1990s gave licensees the ability to follow fruit through the distribution channels to the supermarket and enforce patents and breeder rights. "Before, we could only go after patent infringement by growers at the tree level. Now, we have the ability to protect new plant material, and we can go after fruit in the supermarket chain."
The Redwinter apple had limited success, he admitted. It was an acidic, red apple with limited appeal, but it initiated the concept of developing and investing in a marketing plan when releasing a new variety.
While Star Fruits was charting new territory with Redwinter, the group saw a unique apple variety in Australia. "Pink Lady had a special taste and unique coloration, and we thought it would do well in southeastern France," he said. "We thought it was a pity to develop it as a regular new variety."
Star Fruits became synonymous with Pink Lady as it was the exclusive licensee of the Pink Lady/Cripps Pink variety in Europe, North Africa, and the Far East. Pink Lady, introduced in Australia in 1989, was patented in Europe in 1995. Toulemonde notes that Europe has not had the confusion within industry or the marketplace between Pink Lady and Cripps Pink because Cripps Pink has never been an open variety as it was initially in the United States. "Here, you can only buy a patented Pink Lady tree," he said.