Article by: Hari Yellina
John Cripps, a Western Australian entrepreneur most known for breeding the Pink Lady apple, died at the age of 95. Those who knew him characterised him as a quiet guy who was passionate about plant breeding and dedicated his life to it. The British-Australian horticulturist conducted his studies at the Department of Agriculture in Western Australia. Another of Mr Cripps’ cultivars, the Cripps Red, a late-season variant of the Pink Lady marketed as the Sundowner and Joya, bears his name. In 2010, he was inducted into the Royal Agricultural Society of Western Australia’s Hall of Fame for his contributions to the Australian apple industry.
In 2015, Mr Cripps was made an Officer of the Order of Australia for his “distinguished service to primary industry through internationally renowned, innovative contributions to the agriculture and food sectors, as well as to the community.” Helen Cripps, Mr Cripp’s daughter, said the family was proud of his contribution to Australian horticulture. Dr. Cripps added, “We are extremely delighted that he has left a legacy.” Since its inception in 1991, the Pink Lady variety has gained international recognition as a success story, being named one of Australia’s top 100 finest innovations. Cripps Pink, the cultivar of the apple sold under the trademark name Pink Lady, accounting for more than 30% of Australian apple production in 2015.
Harvey Giblett, a prominent Manjimup producer and proprietor of Newton Orchards, says he had the pleasure of working with John Cripps throughout the years. “I always thought him to be very peaceful and quiet, but below that I found him to be pretty focused and dedicated in what he was doing,” he explained. “He’s made a world-class apple, which is quite incredible.” “It continues to gain popularity around the world to this day.” Mr Cripps made a huge contribution to the apple sector, both in Australia and worldwide, according to Australian Pear and Apples Ltd CEO Phil Turnbull. Pink Lady apples are grown and enjoyed all over the world, from South Africa to Chile and New Zealand to North America and Europe. Mr Turnbull said the decision to market Cripps Pink under the Pink Lady brand had also changed the face of apple marketing. “John leaves behind an incredible legacy, and we thank him for it,” Mr Turnbull said.