As 2019 draws to a close, Grapa Varieties is looking forward to a fruitful and exciting 2020. As Grapa CEO, Rafi Karniel, explains “2019 has really been a breakthrough year for us; expanding into new countries and developing new, sustainable ARRA™ table grape varieties.”
Leading the way
Grapa Varieties is the first table grape breeding company to enter into India, no mean feat considering the security concerns of protecting licensed varieties in this huge country. Afraid of losing control of their varieties’ protection, some breeders have been put off from entering into this, the world’s second largest table grape producing country.
As Rafi relates, “We really saw the potential of this vast untapped market and as a way to circumvent some of the variety protection concerns, we have partnered with Jupiter Group, giving them exclusive licensing of ARRA™ varieties in India. Working together with Sahyadri Farms, a local partner of Jupiter in India, has given us the confidence to grow there.” Rafi continues, "Currently the focus is on introducing the varieties to the local climate and developing the correct growing protocols for the region. With strong local producers, together with a strong marketing company, we are looking forward to establishing the ARRA name in India.”
Rafi continues, “Our next step is to develop something similar in China and central Asia. As with India, here too, there are variety protection security concerns which result in limited access to new varieties. However, with the right system in place, we are confident that we will succeed in introducing the ARRA™ varieties to this region.”
ARRA Sweeties™ (ARRA 15) first year’s production in Sahyadri Farms, India.
Innovate to generate
As well as expanding their global ARRA production, Grapa Varieties has also been expanding their variety portfolio. As ARRA™ variety breeder, Shachar Karniel explains, “We are developing a major line of strong, sustainable varieties that can easily replace inferior, traditional varieties. One of these new varieties we have released is the ARRA 33; this very early variety has big, crunchy berries, a light Muscat flavour and a long shelf-life. Being easy to grow and requiring little manual labour, it is a very cost-effective variety for the growers.”
As well as these high-volume production varieties, Grapa is developing new, unique varieties. “Our new line will have a very distinctive, clean, classic Muscat flavour. We have been working on this line for several years, to naturally reintroduce the Muscat flavour, while simultaneously establishing its resistance to browning. So far, we’ve had fantastic feedback about these varieties,” Shachar relates.
Good for the growers
The team at Grapa Varieties is aware of the challenges the growers face; from increasingly severe weather systems which adversely affect production, to the ever-changing demands of the consumer for eco-friendly, sustainable produce, Rafi observes, “It’s not always about pricing, our main focus is to save costs for the growers, which then in turn affects their income. We provide cost-effective varieties that are high in productivity and easy to grow and manage. This way, the grower can generate his income through cost-saving rather than by having to ask for premium prices for their produce, which in some markets are not achievable.” Rafi continues, “Our focus is on giving the growers excellent, top quality varieties that are suitable for high volume production.”
Shachar adds, “Each year, we provide our growers with updated guidelines which are based on our experiences of ARRA production worldwide and ensure the best, most efficient growing practices for the highest quality produce.” In addition to technical support, when it comes to the marketing aspects, Grapa offers the growers branding and design services.
The ARRA varieties are bred in California by ARD LLC. (Agricultural Research & Development), which is a subsidiary of family-owned company Giumarra Vineyards Corporation (GVC), a leader in the California grape industry.
ARRA table grape varieties are grown in twenty-six countries across five continents. The ARRA line encompasses a wide range of white, red and black seedless grapes, ranging from very early to late varieties.
Grapa Varieties is a family business founded by the Karniel family.