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GrapeCo Australia hoping new variety will continue its popularity

GrapeCo Australia is hoping to continue the strong run of its specialty varieties when it introduces its new product Candy Hearts to the market this season. It will be introduced, on limited volume, following the success of the Cotton Candy and Sweet Sapphire in recent years.

"We have big demand for this variety from importers that carried our Cotton Candy variety the past season," Managing Director Adrian Caia said. "The taste of this grape gets them excited and as it is an exclusive variety to GrapeCo Australia in Victoria and New South Wales they are really getting behind the marketing they can do on such a grape, this season we will focus on Hong Kong, Vietnam and Thailand for this variety with specialist retailers."

GrapeCo reported demand on its Sweet Sapphire was fairly strong through 2017 and there were decent volumes around. Mr Caia says as long as quality is being supplied to the markets, demand will carry, adding the Sweet Sapphire had the biggest growth of the varieties.

"I believe there is a few factors that have driven this from Australia," he said. "Firstly, being it has an excellent eating experience coupled with distinctive appearance which our international markets have an attraction to. Secondly, being there was a big hole in the Australian grape production on black grapes, so Sapphire came into a market that wasn’t over concentrated. The variety had the ability to run a large portion of the season and it gave importers consistency and opportunities to promote it, other black seedless don’t have the range of season this variety has had."

Photo: Adrian Caia at the GrapeCo stall at last week's Asia Fruit Logistica

GrapeCo says some new green seedless grapes will soon be available, which is hoped will create growth in the category, while the company is working on several new other varieties, and is looking forward to releasing further details, when the time is appropriate. Mr Caia says a thorough process is undertaken when selecting new varieties.

"Each variety we plant commercial has been planted on trial first," he said. "In this trial we are monitoring, sugar levels, crunch, colour and taste, if these 4 live up to our standards we believe they will work well in a market environment. So we test them in each key market domestic and international, our key importers will work with us to give us the consumer feedback, whether positive or negative, through sampling activities. Obviously, if the consumer feedback is outweighing our existing varieties we the roll them into commercial plantings."

The varieties have helped sustain the company's export program, which is based around the Sunraysia growing area in Australia. It runs from January to late June with supply of green, red and black varieties including standard varieties such as Crimson, Long Crimson and Thompson Seedless, exporting to both retail and wholesale clients. GrapeCo believes what sets it apart is the ability to supply high end products to the niche retail outlets and offer different grades of packaging to meet the demands of the importer and consumer.

"We currently ship to multiple provinces in Thailand, Vietnam, China, Malaysia, Cambodia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Philippines, this season we will be expanding into Japan and Taiwan," Mr Caia said. "What appeals to the Asian market is the taste the Australian products have to offer, when we can supply crunchy fruit that has great flavour that where our premium is in the market. Other countries are getting better there’s no doubt about it, the variety offerings that are bred with naturally enhanced flavour is making this platform easier for importers to get the fruit they are after."

The company showcased the Candy Hearts and Sweet Sapphire varieties at last week's Asia Fruit Logistica in Hong Kong, which was seen as a great stepping stone for building relationships in the Asian market.

"We caught up with existing clients in all countries that trade our product and got positive feedback on our 2017 seasons trading," Mr Caia said. "Core focus was where we can improve and putting together programs with our importers so they can begin planning their season. We had record interest in our products. The event was significantly larger than previous years – it’s gaining a lot more presence from a world perspective."

For more information:
Adrian Caia
GrapeCo Australia
Phone: +61 3 5048 5011

Publication date: 9/14/2017
Author: Matthew Russell
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com


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