December 4, 2018
The apple industry has begun to trademark, as brands, new varieties of apples sold in Canadian grocery stores including: SweeTango, Pacific Rose and Cosmic Crisp. These trademarked varieties, known as “club” or “managed” varieties, are often controlled by trademark management companies. Producers wishing to grow these varieties are required to obtain licenses and pay royalties.
Kathryn Grandy, director of marketing for Proprietary Variety Management (manager of Cosmic Crisp apples), has stated that the company uses a management system to track where and by whom the variety is produced. The increased control over production allows companies to match supply with demand, and is intended to be profitable for the breeder, manager, grower and all stakeholders involved in the process.
David Parrish, the CEO of Nova Scotian tree fruit cooperative “Scotian Gold Cooperative” is hopeful that the production of club apples can help to curb the problem of overproduction. As Parrish puts it: “[a]t some point in time, an apple will become overproduced [but] with a club variety, the goal is to match supply with demand, so there is a structured price that comes back to the grower.”
According to Vox, the Honeycrisp apple, the first “brand name” apple, came into existence in the 1990s. The University of Minnesota had a patent on the Honeycrisp, which brought in $6 million in revenue, until the patent’s expiry in 2008. Now, anyone can plant a Honeycrisp. Though breeders are constantly experimenting with different varieties of apple, the process is lengthy: from start to finish, creating a new variety of apple can take up to 17 years.