The birth of APAL’s Pink Lady business

One of the core areas of APAL’s business operations is the management of the global Pink Lady™ brand, yet few APAL members are familiar with the work undertaken in this area. In the first in a series of articles about APAL’s Pink Lady business and Intellectual Property management, APAL’s Garry Langford takes us back to where it all began and the current state of play.   

How does APAL’s global Pink Lady brand management benefit Australian growers?

  • Provides Australian growers of Pink Lady apples with an opportunity to export branded Pink Lady apples internationally.
  • Allows APAL to independently invest in projects for Australian growers.
  • Has built up APAL’s expertise in brand management globally that is being applied to brand development for new pome fruit products for Australian growers.

APAL’s global Pink Lady business is built on the apple cultivar Cripps Pink bred by John Cripps at the Department of Agriculture in Western Australia (DAFWA) and the Pink Lady flowing heart trade mark that was also developed by DAFWA.

Trade marks for an apple

In the 1970s when Cripps Pink was being developed, the concept of using a trade mark to protect an apple product was a significant innovation in our industry and today has become the standard global approach for new apple products.

In 1998 DAFWA assigned the global Pink Lady trade mark to APAL’s predecessor, the Australian Apple and Pear Growers Association (AAPGA).

Currently the Pink Lady trade mark is registered in various forms in Australia and in more than 80 territories worldwide. It is used on the fruit produced from Cripps Pink trees and two mutations of Cripps Pink called Rosy Glow and Lady in Red that meet certain quality specifications.

Global master licensees

By the time DAFWA had assigned the Pink Lady trade marks to AAPGA, it had already put in place a number of licences with entities around the world to produce and sell Cripps Pink trees. In the main, the DAFWA licensees became AAPGA’s master licensees to manage and license the trade marks in their respective territories.

AAPGA as an organisation had very limited resources in the late 1990s so the master licensee approach became the cornerstone of the AAPGA business model. Master licensees were tasked with licensing and building the trade in Pink Lady apples and also with promoting the Pink Lady brand. Whilst licenses provided for royalty returns to AAPGA the royalties were largely ploughed back into the business.

International Pink Lady Alliance

In 2001, the master licensees formed the International Pink Lady Alliance (IPLA) and the following year AAPGA became APAL. APAL, as the trade mark owner, provided IPLA with the opportunity to advise on issues related to the quality standards and packaging requirements.

IPLA is still operating as an alliance of APAL’s licensees that include Pink Lady producers, packers and marketers. IPLA has assisted APAL to develop the global quality standard for the use of the Pink Lady trade marks and a global standard for packaging, including fruit stickers.

Royalty collection and investment

The Pink Lady stand at 2016 Fruit Logistica – showcasing Pink Lady apples.

The Pink Lady stand at 2016 Fruit Logistica – showcasing Pink Lady apples.

By 2005 the concept of licenced exporters supplying Pink Lady apples only to licenced importers was being implemented. This process standardised royalty collections so that they were mainly collected at the import destination, enabling investment in the destination market.

APAL’s successful management of the Pink Lady brand has seen Pink Lady apples become the number one premium apple brand in the world. Through the way APAL has managed the Pink Lady brand internationally, a royalty stream has been developed. Royalties are invested in a number of ways including marketing activities, brand protection, licensing and quality control. The surplus from these royalties is returned to APAL and the surplus is now around $1 million per annum. APAL is now investing a portion of this into new programs for the benefit of Australian growers.

Licensing review and expansion

A complete review of licences and their requirements was started in early 2011, this process has been ongoing and is now largely complete with several long term licences being renewed in the past year under new terms and conditions.

The result from the very clear focus that APAL has put on actively managing the global business has been a significant increase in income for APAL, but with commensurate increases in investment in new market development and additional resources.

To develop new markets, APAL and its European licensee Star Fruits have established a joint venture company Pink Lady Development Limited. Pink Lady Development Ltd is funded from a small portion of the royalties collected from Pink Lady apples imported into the United Kingdom and the European Union along with royalties collected on Pink Lady apples in new markets. The focus for Pink Lady Development Limited has been South East Asia, China, Brazil and the Middle East centred on the United Arab Emirates.

A branch office of Pink Lady Development Ltd has been established in Malaysia with Ryan Au employed there full time. Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia have been the initial markets that have been developed and we are now looking to expand to Indonesia and Hong Kong in the next phase.

Development in China has been focused on developing the brand based on imported Pink Lady apples and this began in 2010. In 2015 APAL entered into its first licence in China on locally produced Cripps Pink apples. A further licence has been entered into this year with a volume of around 200 tonnes to be marketed in key Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities.

2016 and beyond

The focus over the next two years for the Pink Lady business will be in the following areas:

  • Continuing new market development program. 
  • Developing and implementing a global branding strategy incorporating local marketing initiatives.  
  • Standardising packaging. 
  • Building a new website that will be a global hub for the brand. 
  • Increasing social media activities. 
  • Licensing the brand in Australia.  

The people power behind Pink Lady

The brand has been developed and sustained by a passionate and committed global network of people that have brought the original vision to fruition.

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About the author 

Garry Langford, Intellectual Property Manager, APAL: 03 6266 4344 or

By |March 29th, 2016|Branding|

About the Author:

APAL is an industry representative body and not-for-profit membership organisation that supports Australia’s commercial apple and pear growers.