Sun World working to expand proprietary variety offerings

07/01/2013 11:29:00 AM
Mike Hornick

Sun World International LLC continues to grow its proprietary grape variety business.

AutumnCrisp, a seedless green variety that ships in September and October, is entering its second year of commercial production.

Volume is likely to double this year, said Rick Paul, table grapes category director for Bakersfield, Calif.-based Sun World.

“We are also introducing a late black seedless variety,” Paul said. “The varietal name is the Sugrathirtyfour, but we are going to market it under a consumer brand name similar to how we market Superior Seedless, Midnight Beauty and Scarlotta Seedless.”

The yet-to-be-named new black seedless is expected to start in October.

“We’re as excited about these varieties as we are about the Sugranineteen, which we’ve been selling under the Scarlotta Seedless brand name for seven or eight years,” Paul said.

The Scarlotta Seedless red, available from October through the end of the year, has yet to reach its maximum acreage.

Sun World is also upgrading its slider bag from polyethylene to polypropylene, which is clearer.

All of its Superior Seedless, Midnight Beauty, Scarlotta Seedless, AutumnCrisp, flames and crimsons will be packed in the new bags.

“There’s been a lot of movement within the industry for different ways to bring grapes to market at the retail level,” Paul said. “The stand-up pouch or grab-and-go bags are the hot trend. It seems like everybody wants them. We provided some last year, but we’re doing a lot more this year.”

The company also plans to start adding item-level traceability to all bagged grapes, a process expected to take a few years to complete.

For the export market, Sun World’s key varieties are Superior Seedless, Midnight Beauty and Scarlotta Seedless.

“We export quite a few crimsons as well, and Sable Seedless,” Paul said. “Compared to last year, it’s going to be pretty good, and last year was excellent.” Sable Seedless is a proprietary black with a flavor the company describes as tropical-muscat.

Production, too, is international at Sun World.

Overseas operations are growing by double digits annually for all fruits and vegetables, chief executive officer David Dever said in May. They center on South America and South Africa, with some in Europe.

In early May, Michael McCartney, former vice president of operations for Naples, Fla.-based Naturipe Farms LLC, was named chief operations officer. Other additions included grape grower Joe Medina. Later that month a series of promotions included naming Natalie Erlendson program marketing manager.



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