Colors and AMC are ready for new era of cooperation

South Africa: Sheehan table grape varieties dispute settled

The two fresh produce companies, Colors and AMC have ended their dispute about the Sheehan table grape varieties and say they are ready to cooperate commercially and in table grape breeding in future.

The two companies announced in Cape Town that they have decided to end the dispute in the best interest of the development of the Sheehan varieties in South Africa, as well as in the best interest of producers who have already invested in plantings of the new varieties.

A new joint venture company, SNFL-Colors, with each company holding 50% of the shares, will in future be responsible for managing the development of the varieties in South Africa. The agreement comes after months of court actions in which the two companies contested the ownership of the varieties in the country. This made the cultivars with the names Allison, Melody, Krissy, Melanie and Magenta household names in the South African table grape industry.

Riaan van Wyk, CEO of Colors, says he is pleased that the development of these unique table grape varieties can now proceed. “We believe they will make a huge contribution to efforts of growers to offer the world the best table grapes available.”

“We believe that our new cooperation agreement is in the best interest of the South African table grape industry,” says Alvaro Munoz, CEO of AMC. “Growers can now go ahead and invest with confidence in these varieties.”

The joint statement says the details of the joint venture will be worked out during the next two weeks. “This will include the projected plantings for each of the five cultivars and the marketing strategies which will be employed. More details will be announced soon.”

The JV has in principle agreed that Colors and AMC Fruit SA will initially be the authorized distributors or marketers of the Sheehan varieties. "Growers will be free to choose which one of the two companies they would use to market their grapes".

They have also confirmed that their cooperation in breeding new table grape cultivars which was started back in 2006 would continue and be expanded. “We will do so under the auspices of our joint cultivar breeding company, VITIS. We will certainly expand this breeding program, breeding for unique new table grape varieties, which will be in demand in world markets.”

The statement says that both companies want to resume the strong relationships they had in the past. “We are resuming our commercial cooperation,” says Riaan van Wyk and Alvaro Munoz, emphasizing that the AMC subsidiary, MMUK and Colors has worked together since 1998 and has assisted each other to build their companies and reputation on table grapes and citrus.

More than 200 hectares of the new Sheehan varieties have already been planted in South Africa and a further 250 will be planted this year. This will bring total plantings to 450 hectares, which in five years’ time are expected to deliver some 2.5 million cartons of these varieties into the world’s markets.

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