Stage 1 Product strategy

Management decided that the existing varieties had been on the market for long enough, and to provide an edge and a stimulus a new variety was needed. To some extent this is a continuing search. But it gained added stimulus as the older varieties were a bit stale, and market share would surely dwindle as the competition sought to kindle its own novelties. Apart from the very broad concept, a new apple, plant breeders thought back over the whole gamut of experience with apple varieties. They tried to single out characteristics that might be applied usefully to build a new creation. This was reinforced by market insights such as possible gaps in present offerings, fashions as revealed by sales trends, problems exhibited by present varieties, competitors' activities, and so on. They did not know exactly what was wanted but formulated a group of attributes, built on a range of good qualities, and sought to assess these and maximise them by selection from trial seedlings of defined types (cultivars).

For example appearance is a major purchase determinant, and so a target colour and configuration were selected. In this case it was decided that the new apple should be a 'blush' apple, one in which red and yellow colorations shade into one another rather than uniform colour or stripes. Decisions were taken of targets for sweetness, acidity, and acid/sugar ratio, flavour, fruit shape, texture and crispness. Added are those properties that are central concerns to the growers and handlers such as: disease resistance, yield and size consistency, and keeping and storage qualities, and these must be optimised for all apples. A major consideration was the time scale, commitment to perhaps 10-15 years of work overall to build a new variety to commercial market success.

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