Intrexon Corporation, of Germantown, Maryland, a company focusing on synthetic biology products, has agreed to acquire Okanagan Specialty Fruits (OSF), of Summerland, British Columbia, the pioneering agricultural company that created the non-browning Arctic apple.
The announcement came February 27, just two weeks after the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service deregulated Arctic apples and set growers free to plant and market the fruit. The two apples are Arctic Golden and Arctic Granny.
Through the acquisition, a company press anouncement said, “Intrexon will expand its food programs to include trees yielding fruit that is more appetizing and convenient for consumers while providing economic benefit throughout the tree fruit supply chain.”
“We are committed to bringing better versions of consumers’ favorite fruits to their grocery stores and kitchens, while addressing additional novel traits in tree fruits that reduce waste and address supply chain challenges,” said Neal Carter, founder of Okanagan Specialty Fruits. “Joining forces with Intrexon and applying our combined technical know-how is an important step to introducing beneficial products for consumers and growers.”
One of the fastest-growing categories of the fruit and vegetable industry is the fresh-cut segment, bolstered by the convenience factor and upward trend in consumption of healthier foods, the press release said. “Marrying the art of fruit breeding with cutting-edge science results in exciting new products that can benefit consumers and producers alike.”
Arctic apples, in which the gene that causes browning when the flesh is cut or bruised has been silenced, provide an alternative to current approaches to browning control, which are more costly and require the application of chemical solutions or antioxidants, the company said. “These apples will be increasingly accessible to food service outlets, where consumers spend roughly 50 percent of their food dollars, because Arctic apples solve both cost per serving and quality concerns associated with pre-cut apples,” according to the press announcement.
“Okanagan is a world leader in the development of fruit-bearing plants to express enhanced, advantageous traits with tremendous potential to revolutionize the tree fruit industry,” said Thomas R. Kasser, Ph.D., senior vice president and head of Intrexon’s Food Sector. “Through this acquisition, we can deliver more accessible and affordable choices of high-quality foods for an ever-growing population.”
Neal Carter will remain with the company.
Okanagan’s stockholders will receive $31 million in Intrexon common stock and $10 million in upfront cash. Consummation of the final transaction is anticipated by June.
Intrexon Corporation was founded in 1998 to focus on what it calls synthetic biology to create biological products including foods, drugs, fuels, construction materials, and others.
“Through the company’s proprietary UltraVectorplatform and integrated technology suite, Intrexon provides its partners with industrial-scale design and development of complex biological systems delivering unprecedented control, quality, function, and performance of living cells,” the press announcement said. “We call our synthetic biology approach Better DNA.”
Wow! I have no problem with Neal and his partners profiting by selling this technology to another company. They worked very hard to develop these cultivars and get the required approvals and deserve to be rewarded for their efforts.
Whether the Artic apples will be accepted in the marketplace in this day and age when many fear “GMO” as an unleashed monster will remain to be seen.
Neal and his partners have likely fulfilled every farmer’s dream of coming up with something new and making a fortune. Perhaps this is one of those rare instances in agriculture where one truly makes a small fortune, without having to start with a large one first!
I am still working on my million dollar idea.