Sun World expands late-season grape offerings

08/19/2013 03:32:00 PM
Vicky Boyd

With the introduction of the proprietary Adora black seedless grape this fall, Bakersfield, Calif.-based Sun World will now be able to offer retailers a full color spectrum of late-season seedless grapes — red, black and green.

Adora, more than 10 years in the works, will be joined by green newcomers Autumn Crisp and Autumn King as well as the mainstay Scarlotta Seedless red, said Gordon Robertson, senior vice president of sales and marketing.

“We feel very bullish about how this will affect our late-season varietal mix,” he said.

All four grapes will be marketed under the Sun World label and their varietal name.

Adora is a large oval grape with a dark black skin and a very sweet taste, Robertson said.

Berries average about an inch in diameter, and he said internally it’s jokingly referred to as a “two-bite” grape because of the size.

Adora also has virtually no seed trace. Autumn royal — another late black grape — is considered seedless but it has such a large seed trace that some consumers may mistake it for a seeded variety, he said.

Harvest of Adora, along with Scarlotta, will start in October and run through early November. Both grapes should be available through the December holidays.

 

Other varieties

The proprietary Autumn Crisp is a large, round green grape that has a crisp texture, a sweet almost muscat-like flavor and delicate skin.

Sun World had very limited quantities last year, since it was the first production season. But consumer response was tremendous, Robertson said.

“We had many consumers contact us about where they could find Autumn Crisp in the fall,” he said.

“When you get that type of consumer response on top of customer response, it’s very encouraging.”

This year Sun World expects more volume as vines become more mature.

The firm is planting an additional 370 acres of grapes this season, of which a large part will be Autumn Crisp, Robertson said. It takes about three years before vines produce a crop.

This fall, Sun World also will introduce its first commercial crop of Autumn King, which will lengthen its marketing window for green grapes, Robertson said.

Harvest timing for the public variety is slightly later than Autumn Crisp, which is harvested from mid-September through mid-October.

The proprietary Scarlotta Seedless, with its large, red seedless berries, remains an anchor of Sun World’s late-season grape program, he said. They are harvested beginning in late September and are available through December.

 

Packaging

All four varieties will be available in high-graphic laminated handled bags as well as zip-closure cast polypropelene pouch bags, he said.

The clarity of the CPP bag lends itself to color graphics, and the pleated bottom allows it to stand up better in displays, Robertson said.

Traditional slider bags, on the other hand, don’t stand upright as well and tend to be made from a cloudier plastic, he said.

Sun World also will offer retailers high-graphic easy-to-assemble merchandising bins that have an artisan or a farm-fresh look to them, Robertson said.

Quick-response codes on the displays will allow consumers to learn more about the varieties and where the grapes are grown.

“These bins can generate tremendous lift,” he said.

“The grape category is all about impulse. But how do you allocate enough space to grapes to help drive the category, because grapes can be under-represented from a space perspective?”

The bins can be used to expand existing produce department displays or used as a secondary display elsewhere in the store.

Sun World has found the bins can help increase grape category sales by up to 38%, Robertson said.



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