DELANO, CA — “Jasmine Vineyards is proud to be a licensee of International Fruit Genetics, one of the world’s leading fruit breeding operations. This partnership gives Jasmine access to IFG’s proprietary selections of the highest quality grapes the world has to offer.” So states the web site of Jasmine Vineyards, here.
Jasmine Vineyards grows, packs and ships a wide assortment of table grape varieties — about a dozen in all — including most of the more established non-proprietary varieties and several of the newer releases. The company also offers two proprietary seedless grape varieties from IFG — one green and one red. They are Sweet Sunshine and Sweet Celebration.
According to Jon Zaninovich, vice president of Jasmine Vineyards, the company will have “a fair amount” of Sweet Sunshine, “upwards of 100,000 boxes this year.”
On the Sweet Celebration, Jasmine will have only a very small volume this year from its first 80-acre planting that is just “coming into miniscule production.” That variety “will really come into production in the next year and the year after,” he said. “It is a good-sized planting.”
There is a trend in the industry to plant newly developed varieties, observed Mr. Zaninovich. “There is not a whole lot of planting of Thompsons any more. No one has really planted Crimsons anymore. There are new ones,” some developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and many more by private breeding programs. “There is a lot of new stuff out there.”
Some of the new varieties are exceptional and distinctive enough to stand out as specific varieties. But more often, they get lost in the mix and are marketed, at least to consumers, only as red seedless, green seedless or black seedless. “We as growers know what they are,” as do the buyers, but “the general public doesn’t. We have the PLU system all set up in place for multiple varieties, but it just doesn’t seem like it ever gets marketed that way.”
There are some exceptions, as he explained. “I just had a meeting today with one of our U.K. [buyers]“ who is “excited about new varieties, especially something that somebody else can’t get.” They “like the flavor” of the new IFG varieties, and “they want something their competitor isn’t going to have.”
In the United States as well, even though the market may be dominated by a few large chains, he said, there are many “regional chains around this country that are still independent” and doing things “to their own beat.”
The IFG varieties are limited on the number of licensees and on the number of acres that “are going to be planted,” Mr. Zaninovich said. In that way, if they “take of” and prove to be “a really good grape, you create some demand” for the varieties with retailers who want to differentiate themselves from the competition.”