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China key market for table grapes breeder Sun World; MIDNIGHT BEAUTY (R) the "star performer"

July 15, 2015

With table grapes remaining among the top four fruits being imported into China, we spoke with Garth Swinburn, Regional Licensing Manager for Sun World Australasia, about Sun World's model and their presence in the Chinese market.

Sun World's approach is a little different from other breeding programs, in that, Swinburn says, “we want to develop a sustainable supply chain and this means sharing the risks with our growers”. In addition, Sun World's royalty system relies on sales of packed Class 1 fruit, not on sales of vines to growers. Swinburn goes on to say that “our primary objective is to assist our growers maximize the return on grape sales. It's a long term approach to building the Sun World brands and making sure all stakeholders in the supply chain from breeders to buyers are adding value and making a sustainable profit.”

Although Swinburn says that expansion of the Sun World grape program in Australia is “on the agenda”, he states that the increase in volumes in future will largely be destined for export markets in South-East Asia, China, and possibly Japan. In particular, he says that “we see China as a very important market for Sun World grape imports from the US, Chile, South Africa and Australia”. Overall, exports of table grapes from Chile to China are up by 8 per cent on last year's figures, illustrating the continuing strong demand for grapes imported into China. 

As the southern hemisphere grape season comes to a close, Swinburn notes that it was a challenging season for Sun World Australia, with rains in January causing some problems with fruit quality, but that they “came out of it pretty well”. In particular, exports of the MIDNIGHT BEAUTY ® brand increased substantially on the previous year, and he expects this to continue in coming seasons. The MIDNIGHT BEAUTY ® brand, a large black seedless grape maturing early season, is Sun World's “star performer” in China. This variety's berries are large (up to 22-24mm), oval in shape and have an attractive intact bloom. Swinburn says that Sun World has also exported limited quantities of the SABLE SEEDLESS ® brand to China, which is “also an early black seedless, with a smaller berry than Midnight but an intense tropical flavor – once you start eating them, it is very difficult to stop.”  Other Sun World brands that may see their way into China in the future include ADORA SEEDLESS ®, AUTUMNCRISP ®, and SONERA SEEDLESS ®. 

Sun World's focus on China currently is as an export market. He notes that “licensing in China may serve to strengthen our global program in future”, going on to say that “we understand China is a very different country and market to what we are used to in our licensing business, so we are spending time understanding the culture and the landscape and researching the opportunities.”     

Photo Source: www.sun-world.com

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