Bravo: New apple variety proves hit with consumers, despite price tag with bite, as growers eye export markets
Growers of a new apple variety developed in Western Australia are eyeing international markets after the first run sold out, despite the hefty price tag of $13 per kilo.
Flowers from the second crop of Bravo apples are beginning to flourish on trees across orchards in the state’s south-west and elsewhere in the nation with yield expected to be up significantly from last year.
With its distinctive dark skin and non-browning capabilities, the apple also proved to be just as popular with growers; so much so, new tree stock has also sold out.
Manjimup grower Harvey Giblett, who harvested about 15 tonne of Bravo earlier this year, said the apple had the rare ability to present great value for consumers and growers. “We are the only country in the world growing them at the moment which gives up the opportunity to charge a bit of a premium over and above other apples,” he said.
“It’s what we need to make it work for us growers as Australia has a high cost of production.”
Mr Giblett estimated production to be “triple or even quadruple” on harvest from earlier this year with growers removing other varieties to plant Bravo tree stock, known as ANABP 01, once it becomes available.
“As the tree matures, production will only go up,” Mr Giblett said.
“It’s still a way off yet, but it could one day challenge the Pink Lady as the most popular export variety.”
Evolution of apple pays dividends for growers
The origins of the Bravo apple began 20 years ago following the crossing of seeds from Royal Gala and Cripps Reds varieties, with the resulting tree stock further developed at a research centre in Manjimup, a known hub for apple growers.
Although dependent on seasonal conditions, harvest begins in April.
Nadia Stacy, executive officer for Fruit West Co-Operative, said 30 growers in WA were now producing Bravo apples and the high price tag of $2 or $3 per apple represented a fair price for their work.
“It’s always a bit of a risk growing a new variety,” Ms Stacy said. “Given the long development process of the Bravo and the amount of work the growers put in, it was good that we were able to get that price.”
Ms Stacy said she was “confident” the average price of $13 per kilo would remain and consumers would continue to “embrace” Bravo apples.
“We’ve had nothing but good reports from grower’s about its performance,” Ms Stacy said.
“Because of the excellent uptake, we can only see bigger numbers with each harvest.”
Apple a hit despite price tag with bite
The apple was also launched in eastern states markets this year and Batlow Fruit Co-operative general manager John Power said it had proven a hit despite its price tag.
“We actually did some research on selling the apples at a range of prices to test the willingness of consumers to pay a higher price,” Mr Power said.”We proved the apple can successfully sell well above $11 per kilo. It performed much better than other varieties that retail much cheaper.”
Mr Power said the success had required the importation of more tree stock from WA for new growers in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.
“Every grower is looking to plant a variety that can make a reasonable return,” he said.
“Unfortunately, a lot of our older varieties are becoming less and less viable whereas there’s obvious proof the Bravo will buck that trend.”
Growers eye export market
Mr Giblett said the appearance, size and taste of Bravo apples would lend itself to an export market already enamoured with Australian fresh fruit.
“I’m certain it would succeed in the UK and other European markets,” Mr Giblett said.
“But ideally, we could also get it into the Asian markets given it is much closer, meaning there’s less risk and cost involved in shipping.
“We’re pinning a lot of hopes on this apple.”