“I believe the red-fleshed apricot is a passing fad”
Fruit Today euromagazine talked to Benoit Escande about his company’s latest variety incorporations
Owing to climate change, some companies are looking for varieties that adapt to these new conditions. What can you tell me about this?
Climate change is forcing us to develop new varieties that adapt better to the weather upheavals that we are going to suffer. There are some varieties that worked very well in the Mediterranean basin and that today are having some difficulties. In any event, it is completely logical to change varieties and make them evolve. We are lucky to have our selection nursery unit in Perpignan, which is a true laboratory. This centre allows us to select new varieties that are better qualitatively and that are also better adapted to climate change. We can follow climate evolution thanks to our great genetic wealth.
Another condition to be taken into account is the drop in the use of plant protection. Do you take this parameter into consideration when researching new varieties?
We are very interested in approaches involving low use of inputs: less fertilizers and less plant protection products. We were the first company to develop an organised bio approach: the Juliet® apple. We were also members of the latest Vegetable Forum that was held in Paris on ecological farming. Our research is aimed at obtaining varieties that have natural resistances and adapt to ecological or zero waste growing conditions. All of this is applicable to both stone and pip fruit.
Will the future apricot have orange or red flesh, as is happening in other categories?
Today, I think that red-fleshed apricots are nothing more than a passing fad. At times, wanting to innovate too much disturbs consumers, who get lost amongst so much offer and do not trust the new developments. They opt for the safest values. The apricot market continues with a nice two-tone dark orange with orange flesh. But what the future varieties will need most is high organoleptic quality. We should not forget that all the red-fleshed fruits, except for plums, continue to be very difficult to promote. This may be seen by the considerable efforts carried out by RMC to promote the red-fleshed apples, Red Moon®.
Although the company is already well-known in apricots, how is Lovita working, the new option in plums?
Lovita® is a plum marketed using the club formula, directed by FFL. The main aim is to guarantee high quality for consumers. The selected producers are obliged to sign a cultivation contract and to respect a production process to optimise the variety. The main new development of this variety coming from Benedor (Israel) is an organisation with fruits from southern hemisphere counterseason. This approach also means the participation of trade partners who put their know-how at our disposal to optimise the quality.
How are the other Escande fruit (pears and apples) evolving?
Above all, our current development is focussed on apples. We have obtained the Pixie® variety and we are launching the Anise® variety. We continue taking part with RMC in the red-fleshed varieties, Red Moon® and Swing®, with a continuous effort being placed on our hybrid programme and with many pre-selections that are still in the study phase at present.
Are you going to present any new developments at the next Medfel trade fair in Perpignan?
At Medfel we will put the emphasis on the Lovita® plum, our latest launch and we will also organise visits to our nurseries that are just 15 minutes away from the trade fair installations.