Jan Prinsen, Belgian Fresh Food Institute

“Seeded grapes are still the tastiest”

The first Italian Victoria grapes have been harvested again. And according to Jan Prinsen, 2020 is becoming a good year for Italian grapes. Jan's from the Belgian Fresh Food Institute. "The Victoria grapes' quality is excellent. These grapes are well-formed. This year, the bunches are well-structured too. We can expect nice Italian Victoria grapes from now on. And from the end of August/beginning of September, the Italia variety."

"Every year, more people eat Italian grapes. But competition is also growing. In the past, grapes were a truly European affair. Italy was the grape country par excellence. But Belgium has nice grapes too. Their volumes have, however, been decreasing in recent years. So much so, that Royal and Leopold grapes have become real niche products. That's a shame because these are nice, tasty grapes," says Jan.

Prinsen has seen another shift in grape consumption in recent years. People now prefer seedless grapes. "More consumers are now eating seedless grapes. But if we consider flavor, seeded grapes trump the seedless varieties. Seeded grapes have better bunch formations than the seedless varieties. They also adhere better to their stems."

"That's one of the reasons seedless grapes are sold in punnets. Seeded grapes have a better sweet/sour ratio too. So, genuine grape lovers prefer seeded grapes to seedless ones. Grape pips are also very healthy because they contain lots of antioxidants," explains Jan.

"It's also striking that many aspects of Dutch and Belgian grape consumption differ. It's hard to find a nice bunch of Italian grapes in the Netherlands. While, in Belgium, there's a lot of demand for this. Most grapes are sold in punnets in the Netherlands. Belgians want to choose their own bunch from the crate. Grape package, therefore, differs vastly between these two countries."  

"One of the better Italian grape cultivation regions is near the city of Bari, in southern Italy. Nice grapes are arriving from the Conversano and Mola di Bari areas this week. Southern Italy's red earth is ideal for growing grapes. It takes six to eight hours to load a truck. The grapes are picked early in the morning. They start at about 06:00 when the grapes are still fresh and not swollen. Women mostly pack the grapes, since it's precise, fine work," concludes Jan.

For more information:
Jan Prinsen
Belgian Fresh Food Institute
Tel: +32 (0) 477 252 372

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