Sun World Innovations, whose proprietary Midnight Beauty grapes are licensed to specific growers, is one of four global grape breeding companies that have formed an alliance to combat non-licensed growers and marketers from appropriating intellectual property. ( File photo )

Four fruit breeders, whose operations span across the globe and have a focus on table grapes, has formed The Breeders Alliance Co. Ltd. in an effort to halt illegal appropriation of proprietary varieties.

The four companies, according to a news release, are:

Sun World Innovations, Palm Desert, Calif., the grape and stone fruit breeding division left as a standalone company when Sun World International recently sold all California production to focus on genetics and breeding. The company’s proprietary varieties include Midnight Beauty, AutumnCrisp and Scarlotta Seedless, which are grown in numerous countries.

SNFL, which has offices in Spain, Chile and South Africa, Australia, the United Kingdom and California, and is the owner of Sheehan Genetics LLC varieties, bred by the late Tim Sheehan of California. Sheehan Genetics has developed about 20 top commercial varieties, grown worldwide.

International Fruit Genetics LLC (IFG), Bakersfield, Calif., which has patented more than 50 fruit varieties, and manages licensing technical support, quality and branding. Those varieties are licensed for production in 14 countries.

Grapa Varieties Ltd., which focuses on breeding and commercializing table grape varieties, including the ARRA varieties of grapes. 

The companies have developed and introduced dozens of new varieties with improved and distinctive flavors, extended seasons and enhanced post-harvest qualities, according to the release.

“Unfortunately, as our new proprietary varieties assume greater visibility and bring producers and retailers more successful results, we have also witnessed an alarming increase in the theft and unauthorized planting of proprietary grapevines and the Intellectual Property rights they comprise,” according to a statement from the founding directors of the new group. “Our ability to continue investing in highly capital intensive and long-term fruit breeding programs is at risk as infringement and the sale of counterfeit fruit grows.”

The new venture is for surveillance only; the separate founding companies will be responsible for enforcement and licensing of their own varieties.

The group announced its formation June 5 in London, during the inaugural Global Grape Summit.