Each year the table grape industry experiences fruit maturity issues, due to growers and retailers striving to be the first to offer fruit on the domestic market. This issue occurs throughout all domestic supply growing regions. Traditionally the maturity specifications set by major supermarkets, wholesale markets and growers has been measured by taking a random sample of berries, usually from the middle of the bunch and then combining this sample to achieve an average Brix level. Some growers, who supply major retail chains, will then proceed to “strip” pick their vines, hoping that the average test does not result in receiving a low sugar sample. As costs of production rise, and returns remain marginal, this practice will be difficult to change.   tablegrapematuritytesting NEW SAMPLING REGIME In order to overcome the issues faced above, the ATGA would like to implement the following in conjunction with major retailers:

  • The ATGA recommends that growers, wholesalers and retailers revise the current sampling regime to sample berries from the bottom of the bunch, in line with practices implemented by most exporting growers
  • Sampling from the bottom of the bunch will provide a more accurate indication of fruit maturity in the crop, as this is where sugars generally accumulate last
  • This revised sampling practice will standardize the table grape industry’s approach to maturity testing, and increase the overall quality of fruit on the shelves.

Based on ATGA consumer research, there will be an increase in repeat purchase behaviour, as consumers have access to more consistent, high quality, sweet fruit from domestic retail outlets  

ON-FARM MATURITY TRACEABILITY

  • ATGA will continue the Maturity testing project which commenced in 2014, and our on farm pre-season brix and sugar to acid ratio tracking
  • Unfortunately not all growers have agreed to participate in the pre-season testing, but ATGA will continue to request their co-operation and participation again this season

 

DC TESTING

  • DC testing will be undertaken again this season, by an independent third party, with results available to individual companies and shall remain confidential as requested (keeping in mind that grower/supplier supplies all the major retailers)

 

ADDITIONAL NOTE

As the peak industry representative body, we will continue to improve the table grape industry’s reputation with both our growers and for the overall benefit of our consumers. Immature fruit is an aspect the industry has struggled to overcome throughout the last three years, and the industry is keen to see this change in 2015 and beyond.   At present, our product has deteriorated greatly in both eating quality and freshness which has been a result of constant oversupply of grapes from early regions during the peak periods. The market has not been diligent on quality, and damaged the reputation of our product amongst local consumers. The ATGA is asking for a fair but tougher approach to maturity specifications. A collaborative approach between the retailers and the ATGA will strive to turn the fortunes of the table grape industry around. Jeff Scott Chief Executive Officer