FOLLOWING a trial in supermarkets nationally, apple growers will no longer be required to coat their produce in food-grade wax for Coles and Woolworths.
The trial, held across more than 150 Coles supermarkets in SA, the NT and WA, found 70 per cent of consumers preferred purchasing wax-free apples.
Apples naturally develop a coat of wax when growing to help protect the fruit and retain moisture and firmness.
Once picked, the apples are cleaned, removing the natural coat of wax. A food-grade wax is then applied to replace it.
The consumable and natural wax is mainly used to keep apples shiny and appetising, and is also used in chocolate and confectionery production.
Apple and Pear Growers Association of SA chief executive officer Susie Green said there was a mixed reaction from SA apple growers, who supply 10pc of the national apple crop.
“Growers have concerns that the fruit won’t look as attractive in the shops and whether it will impact on the overall consumption,” she said.
“At the same time, there is also some hope to bring new excitement into the category for people who are looking for wax-free apples.”
Ms Green said the impact on growers would be a “wait and see”.
“There may be some added complexity for growers who are supplying waxed fruit as well as wax-free,” she said.
“It will be an adjustment and set up initially but there shouldn’t be too much change. It should be slightly cheaper as you don’t have the wax costs.”
Ms Green said most growers in SA waxed their apples prior to the new supply requirements.
Apple and Pear Growers Australia CEO Philip Turnbull said if the move to no added wax meant increased consumption of apples, it would benefit the industry.
“Apples with no added wax have always been available in many retail outlets and farmers markets,” he said.
“Organic apples don’t have added wax by definition and many pre-packed apples – apples sold in bags – also don’t have added wax.”
From the end of January, 100pc of apples sold in Coles supermarkets will be wax-free.
“Our SA, WA and the NT customers loved enjoying no added wax apples so we’re excited to share these delicious apples with the rest of the country,” Coles fresh produce general manager Brad Gorman said.
Woolworths decided to offer wax-free fruit from February, and head of produce Scott Davidson said the decision arose from growing customer requests to purchase fruit and vegetables as “nature intended”.