Sugarone dispute resolved
Sun World International, its Murcia based licensee Antonio Munoz & Co, and members of the Spanish table grape industry, have agreed to settle a dispute involving the California proprietary Sugarone grape variety, better known as the trademarked Superior Seedless. This resolves a long standing conflict including an estimated four million cartons of early ripening white seedless grapes produced and packed by some 450 growers and 25 exporters. Under the arrangement between Sun World, who will receive production royalties, Munoz and Apirenas, a consortium of producers and exporters have been licensed to grow vines and produce this variety. Twenty five packer/ exporters have also been appointed to ship Sugarone grapes to licensed receivers throughout Europe.
While arrivals of Mediterranean grape have been delayed this year, volumes are now building up substantially and at reasonable prices. The development of seedless types offering customer convenience has made them one of the fastest expanding fruits with the National Food Survey recording consumption doubling over the last decade. While fruit was once regarded as difficult to handle, the use of polybags has also allowed multiples to increase their share. The Taylor Nelson AGB statistics presented below, which refer to all types, are drawn from analysis of actual weekly purchases of a total of 10,000 households.
Egypt to fill the gap?
Egypt could become a useful source for grapes in October, before the start of Chilean supplies and as other Mediterranean sources are finishing, according to several supermarket buyers. At this time of the year, variable weather conditions can often lead to poor quality and a corresponding shortfall in programmes planned months earlier. Duncan McIntyre, senior fruit technologist for M&S, believes there is a window of opportunity particularly for red seedless varieties such as Superior and Flame Seedless. Several Egyptian grower exporter groups have been investing heavily in modern production techniques, although the high cost of air freight is causing them to look at alternative routes.
New names to go on sale
New grape names such as Mystery, Prime, Spring Blush, Rocky and Black Finger are being trialled in Chile as a result of a licensing agreement between importer Ben David and the Israeli Volcani Institute. Its aim is to increase the range available to European supermarkets. The first grapes will be in commercial production within three years.
Orange River set to reach 20 million cartons
South Africa gears up for global market expansion Faced with substantial crop increases this season which are lengthening the marketing period from 10 to 14 weeks, and more to follow next year though increased plantings, a Grapes from South Africa’ promotion initiative has been launched by the industry to boost worldwide sales. It is backed by Fruit South Africa, an organisation supported by growers, exporters and the government. Since deregulation the face of the South African fruit industry has changed with the formation of a number of organisations spearheaded by the Orange River Producers Association, the Berg River Table Grape Association and the Hex River Table Grape Association representing the three major producer areas. Each has a network of regionally based members contractually committed to follow the agreed guidelines and disciplines on standards, food safety, protocol and social/ labour issues with grower communities being their own police force’. All three associations operate under the umbrella of the South African Table Grape Association. ORPA has developed itself a supplementary brand’ using the analogy of the wine market where a particular category of grapes and a sub-region could be identified to make a point of difference. Prospects point to the industry again moving into long-term top gear. National growth will be nearly 5% reaching 40.6 million cartons by June. With 90% of the Orange River crop packed, it will export more than 12 million cartons, 40% more than last year, and will reach 20 million next season. The Berg will add 10.5 million and the Hex River Valley nearly 17 million.