“After evaluating these new varieties, the eyes can just glaze over after seeing so many prototypes,” Pandol said.
This is especially true because within these new varieties, Pandol said many of the developments aren’t as noticeable from an end product standpoint.
“The more interesting developments are in the roots. That’s where the action is happening,” he said.
Improvements with water usage, disease resistances, and other positive characteristics are becoming major focuses for both the wine and table grape industries.
Varieties are also being developed that offer new characteristics for the eating experience, although Pandol said those changes aren’t as remarkable right now.
“There are a lot more interesting things happening from the bottom rather than the top standpoint. It’s really focused on the farming improvements,” he said.
Prime vs. perlette
One new variety that’s already widely available is the prime variety, according to Jerry Havel, director of sales and marketing for Fresh Farms, Nogales, Ariz. Fresh Farms distributes for Molina Group Co., Hermosillo, Mexico.
Havel said the prime variety may eventually replace the perlette.
“Perlette is the mainstream for early green seedless, but there have been a lot of primes planted and a lot of retail chains prefer those,” he said.
Steve Monroe, sales, Monroe & Sons Produce Distributors, Bakersfield, Calif., agreed the prime variety is slowly replacing the perlette.
“It might take a few years, but no one is really planting any new acreage of perlettes,” he said.
Natalie Erlendson, marketing manager for Sun World International LLC, Bakersfield, Calif., said proprietary varieties are also popular with retailers.
“Retailers recognize how important the produce department is when it comes to the consumer’s decision on where to shop. They are looking for ways to bring differentiation and improved quality to their department and the grape category,” she said.
Erlendson said Sun World’s proprietary grape varieties fit this need for retailers.
“We recommend that retailers look to proprietary varieties as a way to differentiate themselves, and that they actually market the unique characteristics of these varieties to the consumer.
Erlendson said marketing these proprietary grape varieties will lead to more repeat sales.
“Instead of just selling a red seedless grape, call out a Scarlotta Seedless red grape. This helps the consumer recognize the quality of the proprietary variety and once they know they love that grape, they will look for it by name in the store, helping to drive repeat sales,” she said.