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The apple and pear varieties developed by the IRTA and Fruit Futur and adapted to hot climates are ready to go on the market

  • These varieties are the result of an international genetic variety improvement programme involving the IRTA, Fruit Futur and their New Zealand partners, Plant & Food Research, in response to the challenges posed by climate change
  • Turners and Growers (T&G) will be the internationally licensed company
  • The presentation of the programme took place on 6 February at the International Fruit Logistics Trade Fair in Berlin

The IRTA, Fruit Futur and Plant & Food Research, owners of the apple and pear genetic variety improvement programme, have signed an agreement with T&G Global, the world leader in fruit production and sales & marketing, to continue with the development and sale and marketing of new apple and pear varieties adapted to hot climates. The main characteristics of these varieties are their excellent quality and high levels of colouration in conditions of high temperature and water scarcity.

Following a research partnership over more than 15 years between the international programme partners to develop these varieties, the official presentation of this alliance with T&G took place this Wednesday 6 February at the International Fruit Logistics Trade Fair in Berlin (T&G Stand Pavilion 6.2/C-17). The programme partners have put their trust in T&G’s experience as a business partner to make these varieties available to producers and markets around the world.

The presentation was attended by the Honourable. Mrs. Teresa Jordà, Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Food of the Catalan Government; Josep Usall i Rodié, CEO of the IRTA; Gavin Ross, Group General Manager, Marketing&Innovation at Plant&Food Research; and Sarah McCormack, T&G Director of Apples & Pears.

The modification programme uses germplasm contributions from both Spain and New Zealand to identify gene seed plants with the essential characteristics required for climate change: high temperature tolerance, low water requirement and high fruit colouration, good texture and excellent flavour and shelf-life. There is also a clear focus on improvement in resistance to pests and diseases prevalent in warm climates. The adaptation of crops to the environmental conditions caused by climate change is one of the main challenges currently faced by the sector, and by society in general, to ensure competitive, sustainable production of healthy food.

The Programme’s Background

The Hot Climate Programme (HCP) was initiated in 2002 by the IRTA and Plant & Food Research with the aim of developing new apple and pear varieties adapted to growing areas with high temperatures.

At that time, producers on the Iberian Peninsula, and specifically in Catalonia, had already begun to experience problems with traditional varieties due to rises in temperature: less red colouration, burning by the sun, soft pulp textures and higher incidence of deterioration during storage.

The two organisations began to work together on this programme in the realisation that this problem would extend to other regions, as temperatures continue to rise as a result of climate change, and that demand for varieties developed for these environments will therefore increase all over the world.

In 2003, Fruit Futur, an economic interest group formed by Actel, Fruits de Ponent, Nufri, Poma de Girona and the IRTA, joined the project as an expert in the commercial production of apples and pears in Catalonia, and as a party with a potential interest in these varieties. Their expertise and in-depth commercial knowledge have been vital in the development and assessment of the selection processes in the new varieties programme.

Finally, in 2018, the owners of the programme chose T&G Global, which has headed up successful projects in fruit development world-wide such as Envy®, Jazz® and Pacific Rose®, to market the programme’s new varieties at an international level. These varieties will begin to reach the markets in the coming years and will boost increased fruit consumption.