High hopes for fruit world’s ‘dark horse’
WA’s own Bravo apple has been a game changer for the fruit industry, with the boutique black apple putting some crunch into premium markets here and overseas.
Bravo is the trademarked brand for fruit grown on the ANABP 01 apple variety trees which is being commercialised across the country by Fruitwest Co-operative Ltd, with the apple variety and trademark rights owned by the WA Agriculture Authority.
The distinctly dark burgundy coloured apple has taken more than 20 years to perfect and is a cross between a Royal Gala and the WA-bred apple variety the Cripps Red (marketed as Sundowner). The ‘black apple’ has been available only since 2016, most grown by WA orchardists.
Mario Casotti, who has orchards in Pemberton, Mullalyup and Balingup and is General Manager of Karragullen Cool Storage, was one of the first orchardists to grow the fruit.
For Casotti, it’s the premium price tag, export potential, lower labour costs to harvest the fruit and, of course, the taste that appeals most.
“This is the main reason why we’ve planted it. The export potential is there because it is so different and because our production costs are so high, we really need to target niche markets,” he says.
“This apple gives us the opportunity to try and charge a little bit more than what our competitors in South Africa and Chile are charging for the average Royal Gala from New Zealand, where they pay much lower labour rates.
“Unfortunately with our labour being the dearest in the universe we needed an advantage, and it sort of gives us an advantage.” Casotti says the Bravo will appeal to the retailer because it is fairly bruise resistant and has a good shelf-life.
Fruitwest Co-operative Ltd Executive Officer Nardia Stacy says it’s a game changer for the apple industry because it is being grown exclusively in Australia for the conditions and is therefore appealing to growers.
Exports began in 2017, with the first shipment bound for Singapore.
“We received some promising interest from overseas following the April, 2016, launch of the Bravo, and more is expected once the apple is being retailed in international markets,” she said.
About 200,000 trees have been planted Australia-wide, with the majority in WA. More will be planted as demand increases.
“Consumers have ticked all the boxes and have judged the Bravo apple to clearly be a premium product,” she says.
“Its stunning appearance, beautifully-balanced sweetness, and its extreme burst of freshness from the first bite makes eating a Bravo a positive experience like no other, backed-up by a commitment to quality from orchard to the consumer.”