Good sugar levels for French kiwi fruit

An optimal level of cold temperatures this growing season contributed to kiwi fruit with high sugar levels in France. As the peak growing season is currently winding down, growers are hoping the good quality of this year's fruit will find receptive markets in Europe and Asia.

“The harvest has gone well, it was a very good season,” said Pascale Begoulle of Sikig in France. Sikig is a French grower which grows both green and gold varieties of kiwi fruit on 500 hectares in the southwest region of France. The Adour Bassin, where the majority of their kiwis are grown, contributes heavily to the high quality of their fruit, but this year, ideal weather conditions were responsible for the high sugar levels that were present in this year's crop.

“The fruit was very high in sugar, especially the fruit we harvested in the latter part of the season,” said Begoulle. Harvesting is broken up over two time periods, and the second pass, which got underway in early December, produced the majority of this year's fruit and had the best quality, she added. The specific reason for the good sugar levels was cold weather that was present during harvesting.

“A small freeze is good for making the sugar go up,” said Begoulle. “This year, I think we'll get up to about a 6.7 brix level.” The quality is maintained throughout the marketing season by Sikig's method of separating the crop into categories depending on how well they'll store. The fruit that can store the longest is kept for sale during the later part of the season, so Sikig can continue to ship fruit well into June.

Begoulle noted that their largest market has traditionally been Europe, but with the rising economic prowess of Asian countries, they're looking to do more business in Asia.

“Part of the reason we're developing the Asian market is because of the European economic crisis,” she said. “We focus on Europe because that's where we've historically had most of our customers, and we want to continue with them and we want to continue in Europe, but we're now also targeting China, Taiwan and South Korea.” They're currently waiting for a trade deal to be worked out between South Korea and France so they can commence shipping kiwi fruit to South Korea, so Begoulle is both excited about Sikig's prospects in Asia and about Europe's imminent recovery.

“Perhaps there's a crisis now in Europe, but in a few years we hope that it will be better,” she said. “We just have to pass this crisis, and it will get better because even if the sky isn't blue, it's not completely black either.”

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