There are now 1,500 Sun World growers in 10 countries across the globe. What all of these growers obtain is the chance to work with some of the best grape varieties in the world. Produce Business UK speaks to Sun World and some of its licensees about this mutually beneficial arrangement
Commercial enterprises are always looking for a competitive edge and those fighting it out in the global grape market are no different. With consumer preferences and retail requirements constantly changing, any advantage that can be harnessed and utilised is always welcome. Which is where being a Sun World licensee comes in very handy. Not only do growers get to work with some of the best grape varieties in the business, licensees benefit from Sun World’s impressive marketing and promotion team.
For South African exporter Green Marketing International it’s quite clearly a win-win situation, as director Ryno Bougas notes: “Being a Sun World licence holder puts us in a really strong position in the UK. It definitely adds value to our business and we’re very thankful for having that licence. It gives as an edge and puts us ahead of our competition in South Africa.”
Acquiring a licence demonstrates a commitment to excellence that Sun World requires as standard. David Marguleas, executive vice-president at the California-based company, admits that it only works with exceptional growers that are committed to adopting the best production practices for its varieties, that respect its intellectual property rights and that seek to become part of the wider Sun World family.
He explains: “With more than 1,500 Sun World growers now producing our varieties in 10 countries around the world, we are seeking growers interested in learning from and sharing knowledge with Sun World and other Sun World producers.
“Marketer licensees apply for the right to distribute fruit from Sun World trees and vines and to use our trademarks in marketing that fruit. We look for commercial fruit marketing companies with a diverse and strong client base, solid reputations amongst producers and that are committed to strengthening our year round branded grape and stonefruit platform.”
UK is of the tree for grapes
The London Produce Show and Conference gives Sun World and some of its attending licensees – including the aforementioned Green Marketing International, plus Egypt’s Pico, Moyca from the Murcia region of Spain, Italian producer-exporter Agrimessina, and Grupo El Ciruelo and Tany Nature, both from Spain – a chance to demonstrate to the UK retailers the collective supply base from its licensed proprietary grape and stonefruit growers and marketers in key supply regions such as the US, Chile, South Africa, Europe, Israel and more.
Natalie Erlendson, Sun World’s programme marketing manager, believes this united presence at the show is vital. “It is designed to emphasise that collectively we can provide the UK market with consistency in quality, variety and brand regardless of growing region – something that is key for creating and maintaining consumer loyalty.”
Speaking to a few of Sun World’s licensees it is apparent that the UK remains an integral part of global grape market – it was here, after all, that the dominance of seedless grapes was first keenly felt. Salma Diab, Pico’s marketing and communications specialist, regards the UK’s market specifications as the most exacting in the world.
Diab notes: “Gaining full marks in all the categories from brix/acidity, size and presentation to maintaining maximum health benefits and keeping an eye on the market’s price sensitivity is always a tough but achievable balancing act.”
And while it has expanded its exports to the rest of the European Union, South Africa, the Arab states of the Gulf and Mauritius, the UK remains the most appreciative for value and quality. “This market is indeed our top priority,” she confirms.
Flavour, nutrition, value, variety
The drivers within grapes remain flavour, nutrition and value. Erlendson places particular emphasis on flavour, where once size was foremost in consumers’ minds.
“With our breeding programme we continue to focus on varieties that deliver on all fronts,” she says. “Flavour, size, colour, consistency and the ability to arrive in international markets through all phases of post-harvest.”
Diab, while acknowledging the virtues of all three characteristics, regards the healthy attributes of grapes as being key.
“All over the world,” she point out, “consumers are becoming more and more health conscious. This has definitely been observed as consumer lifestyle changes rather than a trend that will come and go.”
Bougas believes that in the UK it’s also about exciting the consumer. “It’s not all about volume,” he says. “The most important thing is giving customers what they want. That’s why being a licensee of Sun World helps; we’re able to put new products onto the table for our customer base because that’s the way forward – you need to be proactive, particularly in the UK.”
The retailers, meanwhile, are looking for the best varieties available with the best eating qualities.
Erlendson says: “As a developer of unique proprietary varieties Sun World and our licensed marketers have the opportunity to work with customers around the world to bring them a unique point of differentiation that positions them to win with the shopper and in the market-share race. Additionally, we work to provide market and consumer insights to our customers so we can collectively build strategies for category growth.”
To that end, Sun World’s newest grapes that are garnering international attention are its late season green seedless Autumncrisp® and jumbo black seedless grape Adora Seedless®.
“Autumncrisp® has a texture that is true to its name,” Erlendson enthuses. “And a sweet flavour profile with hints of muscat. Adora Seedless® brand grapes are nicknamed “two-bite” grapes because of the extra-large berry size, which is equally matched with big flavour. We also saw a promising first crop on the new red Sonera Seedless® brand grapes out of Coachella.”
Bougas notes that planting new varieties can always be something of a risk but when it comes to Sun World varieties, growers want to get involved because of the company’s stellar reputation within the market.
He explains: “Obviously the product has got to tick all the boxes with regards to timing – especially in terms of harvesting with regards to labour – yield, the marketing possibilities, seedless or seeded, because of course everything is moving towards seedless. So there are lots of boxes that need to be ticked – does the grape travel well? However, because Sun World has a good track record people will commit to putting the product in the ground, no question about it.”
A collaborative affair
As Bougas concedes, one of the benefits of being part of the Sun World licensing network, is access to some of the greatest grape growing and marketing minds in the world. There is a real sense of collaboration at play here.
Diab says coming together at events such as The London Produce Show and Conference helps foster this collective sense.
“The London Produce Show pools in significant potential for more room to work together with Sun World as we meet year after year,” she says. “The joint finish line that growers and licensees have in common is to have a fully calendar year of supply available.”
Bougas concurs: “As a Sun World licensee we talk to all the other licence holders – there’s a lot of collaboration which works well. And this extends to marketing in general. The more information everyone has the better you can make decisions.”
Sun World is sponsoring The London Produce Show and Conference on June 8-10 at the Grosvenor House hotel.