The food market is seeing an evolution according to the tastes of consumers, to the point that one can almost talk about fruit design. This is the reason for the varietal turnover in crops such as grapes. According to BASF estimates, almost 85% of the grapes that were grown in Peru were of the Red Globe variety. However, that statistic has been changing.
Jorge Soriano, the sales manager of the Agricultural Solutions Unit of BASF Peru, said that the Red Globe variety had reigned for many years thanks to its tolerance to different climatic conditions and easy handling when compared to other grapes. In addition, it had good acceptance in the main markets.
However, about five years ago, there started to be a change in its consumption profile: “The geneticists identified the needs and tastes of consumers, which led to the appearance of different varieties; first there were different colors, then seedless varieties, others were crunchier, longer, more round, cherry, yellow,” he said.
According to his estimate, nowadays 40% of Peru's grape production corresponds to varieties different than the Red Globe grape, many of which are patented and require paying a royalty to their creators, something that is becoming key to continue being a relevant grape exporter in global commerce. This occurs in a context in which the hectares of grapes are not necessarily increasing, but in which the Red Globe is being withdrawn to test other varieties with better potential.
Soriano said that none of the new varieties stands out clearly because the developers always have a limit to production in mind and don't release them. As a result, the market is controlled and there are no cases of oversupply that end up negatively affecting prices. "I think there must be more than 20 grape varieties in production throughout the country," he added.
Sanitary challenges for cultivation
This scenario poses challenges from the perspective of the care that the crops require, as not all varieties adapt equally to the geographical environment where they develop, either Ica or Piura in the Peruvian case. The BASF executive stated that the sensitivities that these new varieties may have to some diseases can be unpredictable, as was demonstrated by a recent case.
“Some new patent-protected varieties have had problems with the mildew disease in Ica, where this wasn't a problem for producers. However, last year they had to make regular applications for this disease, which creates challenges for producers as they need the tools, products, and an alert system to perform good agronomic practices,” he said.