Interfel Relaunches its Sustainable Apple Growing Campaign in Malaysia

Interfel Relaunches its Sustainable Apple Growing Campaign in Malaysia

In celebration of the bumper crop of French apples this year, the French grower Interfel has reaffirmed its sustainability commitment to Malaysian consumers.

As the saying goes, an apple a day keeps the doctor away, and no one propounds this truism more than Interfel, the Interbranch Association for Fresh French Fruit and Vegetables.

As an industry body promoting fresh French produce, Interfel is not an exporter of apples or fruits but represents all French growers and the agriculture industry.

Having just relaunched its campaign in Malaysia after the pandemic, Interfel plans to raise awareness of the French growers’ commitment to sustainability and eco-friendly practices.

A stall displaying a selection of apples grown in France

France is a country which produces a large quantity of apples due to its wide-ranging climate and geographical advantages. Out of the multitudinous varieties of apples available worldwide, over 100 types are grown in France, with approximately 30 cultivated on a large scale.

Some of the most common ones in Malaysia include the Royal Gala, Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, and Pink Lady. Kissabel, Candine and the Juliet.

France experienced a bumper crop this past spring and summer, which yielded around 1.5 million tonnes of colourful, irresistibly crisp and delicious apples, an 8 per cent increase compared to the previous year. While the overall European harvest is expected to be smaller at 11 million tonnes, France proudly secures its place as the third largest apple producer in Europe, following Poland and Italy.

Two photographs, one of Chef Patrick, the other of one of his pastry tarts made with apples

To introduce the varieties of French apples to the market, Interfel organised an event to showcase the versatility and varieties of French apples with a culinary demonstration by Chef Patrick Siau. Patrick is a professor at the Sunway University’s School of Hospitality Service Management and became the “World Pastry Champion” in the Coupe de Monde de la Patisserie and the recipient of the Vase de Sevres prize awarded by the President of the French Republic for “Best Degustation.”

For the past 20 years, French apple growers have also embraced an eco-responsible production process by dedicating themselves to cultivating healthy, flavourful, high-quality fruits. Beyond mere cultivation, French growers have also implemented environmentally friendly methods that preserve orchard biodiversity and maintain the economic equilibrium of fruit farms.

The sustainable methods the French growers have employed include efficient waste management, biocontrol techniques and thoughtful pollination methods. This holistic approach underscores their dedication to delivering exceptional fruits and safeguarding the environment for many years.

Luxurious Magazine spoke to Gregoire Debre of Terroir & Spice, a representative of Interfel, about the all-things French apples.

Luxurious Magazine: How long have you been importing French apples into Malaysia?
Interfel: French apples have been available in Malaysia for decades, first appearing more than 30 years ago. They are now well established in the country, and consumers and importers expect them to be in season regularly and available to consumers starting from the last quarter of the year.

There is now a wide variety of French apples available in Malaysia, catering to all consumers and tastes, ranging from sweet to crunchy, from small to big. I am sure every consumer will find an apple to suit their tastes!

Two wooden crates with Candine and Kissabel apples

LM: Which are the three best-selling French apples in Malaysia?
Interfel: Royal Gala, Granny Smith, Pink Lady®, Kissabel® (above).

LM: Which parts of France are the apples predominantly grown?
Interfel: We have 100s of orchards spreading all across France, but Apple trees are most abundant in Normandy.

LM: How long does an apple last before it turns bad? How long is the shipping to Malaysia from France?
Interfel: Shipping usually takes 3 to 4 weeks by sea, but nowadays, the traffic is slightly interrupted, which could cause some delays.

Advancements in technology mean that apples can last longer than before, but it all depends on how they are kept. Keeping them in a fridge will make them last longer, and obviously, it is best to avoid storing them in a hot and humid place.

LM: What are the top five markets for French apples in Asia?
Interfel: Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong

Members of the press attending the launch

LM: What sustainability and eco-friendly practices do the French growers practice?
Interfel: French apple growers prioritise ethical, quality fruit production with eco-friendly methods. For more than 20 years, the growers have shared the same ethics: producing healthy, tasty, and quality fruits and following environmental methods that respect biodiversity in orchards.

This innovative agroecological approach is based on the principles of integrated fruit production, which focuses on the supervision of orchards, biological control methods and cutting-edge techniques to ensure quality production for all consumers. This new generation of apple growers has made a sustainable commitment to modern arboriculture that preserves and feeds on natural balances to stay in tune with their environment.

As such, the apple growers have pledged themselves to six commitments for their eco-friendly orchards:

  1. Promoting biodiversity in orchards
  2. Featuring biological control methods
  3. Well-thought-out orchard interventions
  4. Handpicking at optimum ripeness
  5. Ensuring orchard traceability at the point of sale
  6. Checking compliance with good practices by an independent external body

LM: What other fruits does Interfel import from France into Malaysia, and which are the top five best-selling French fruits in Malaysia?
Interfel: Our main priority and best sellers are, as of now, apples and kiwis.

LM: Does Interfel also import organic fruits and vegetables into Malaysia?
Interfel: Yes, there is a variety of French organic fruits available in Malaysia, from Juliet to Candine apples. Those varieties are becoming more and more popular in the Malaysian market but also in all of Asia.

Chef Patrick holding French apples in his handInterfel Relaunches its Sustainable Apple Growing Campaign in Malaysia 2

Ong Chin Huat

Luxurious Magazine Reporter

Having been the social editor of the Hong Kong edition of Tatler and as well as writing a twice-weekly column in Hong Kong’s leading English-language newspaper, the South China Morning Post, Chin has met and interviewed a variety of people including business tycoons, supermodels, movie stars, royalty and world-class athletes. He also considers himself privileged to have attended some of the most talked about events and parties around the world. Chin counts art, fashion, food, interior design, literature, painting and travel among his passions.

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