Table grape breeder Sheehan Genetics LLC, Fresno, Calif., is building a research and development facility for new varieties for growers in California and the Americas.
Sheehan Genetics is the North American branch of Specialty New Fruit Licensing, and the Sheehan Research and Development Innovation Center of Excellence in Fresno will allow the company to “accelerate efforts in key portfolio additions and enhancement,” according to a news release.
The center’s opening is expected in 2021 and work there will complement Specialty New Fruit Licensing’s (SNFL) European operations.
The center will better position the company to leverage varietals for value-added offerings, according to the release.
Sheehan Genetics is named after the company’s co-founder Tim Sheehan, a table grape varietal pioneer who died in 2009. Sheehan saw the need to create new varieties that would demand consumer attention.
"Establishing this new innovation facility reinforces our commitment to investing in the advancement of new solutions for the table grape industry," said Josep Estiarte, general manager of SNFL globally. "Our new facility will allow Sheehan Genetics and SNFL to continue to grow, diversify our portfolio and strengthen our position as a market leader."
The table grape industry grows at a “sustained pace annually propelled by the secular shift from commoditized, public varieties to proprietary seedless varieties that better accommodate grower, retailer and consumer preferences,” according to the release.
The Sheehan center will have a “customer experience hub” to bring together those three groups — growers, retailers and consumers — to talk about the process and sample the grapes.
“We look forward to hosting our partners and customers in a tailor-made facility where they can learn more about our projects and varieties, exchange know-how and collaborate in the development of our future innovation pipeline,” Elena Aguaron, chief operating officer of Sheehan Genetics, said in the release.