How a fruit producer is adapting to climate change with genetics

May 5, 2022 | By Jack Ellis

The team at International Fruit Genetics (IFG) is no stranger to ‘customizing’ crops. The Bakersfield, California-based company uses natural breeding techniques to come up with its cultivars, which it then licenses to growers and fruit brands.

Founded by fruit geneticist and former US Department of Agriculture researcher David Cain in 2001, IFG set out on a mission to develop sweeter and larger table grape cultivars – culminating in the creation of its flagship Cotton Candy grape, which went on sale in 2011.

More recently, IFG has been tackling a new and more pressing challenge for the fruit industry: climate change.

IFG to Debut Several New Varieties of Grapes This Summer – Bebop, Julep and Torch

May 6, 2022 | By

It is time for summer and IFG, the world’s top fruit-breeding and licensing company and creator of the Cotton Candy Grape, has several new and delicious varieties of table grapes that about to hit store shelves including Bebop, Torch and Julep.

Below are the many new and favorite grape varieties consumers will be able to see in the stores over the next few months (including Cotton Candy which has been delighting consumers for nearly two decades).

New grape varieties strike balance between consumer wants and grower needs

May 23, 2022 | By

Candy Snaps™. Jack’s Salute™. Sugar Crisp™. And of course…Cotton Candy™.

Everyone following the grape industry, very likely recognizes these names as a sampling of the newer varieties of grapes in the marketplace today. As Andy Higgins, CEO of table grape breeder IFG in Bakersfield, California, points out, consumers have had increased access to multiple varieties of grapes recently--particularly so in the past five to six years. Here, he shares insights on variety developments and where the industry is headed in this regard.

When it comes to producing a new variety, that takes some seven to 10 years in development, with two or three of those years alone dedicated to growers putting it into commercial production at volumes large enough for retail distribution. IFG recently introduced three new varieties of grapes: Torch™ (a larger, early red seedless with mild muscat flavor); Bebop™ (a mid-season red seedless with nuances of cherry); and Julep™ (a mid-season black seedless with Labrusca spicy flavor and hints of herbs and mint). IFG groups its varieties into four classifications of flavors: Tropical/Fruity, Muscat, Toffee and Exotics.

Mealtime Magic: The World of Cherries

April 8, 2022 | By Motherhood Moment

If you watch people in a store while they buy fruit, you’ll note they can’t resist the allure of the cherry. It seems to be magnetic. Perhaps it is the look of the fruit: plump, shiny, ruby-red. Or, it might because they eat so easily, bite-sized with a perfect little green handle by which to dangle them. Maybe our palate knows what to expect? We love their crunch and we don’t mind a little tartness as long as they’re juicy and sweet. We don’t even mind the fact that they’re not seedless and we have to spit out a stone.

AM FRESH Group to acquire IFG and merge it with SNFL

March 8, 2022 | By

AM FRESH Group and Special New Fruit Licensing (SNFL) announced a definitive agreement under which AM FRESH is acquiring International Fruit Genetics (IFG) and merging it with SNFL, creating a combined company that significantly advances SNFL’s and IFG’s abilities to develop further their breeding capacities and add to their portfolio to address industry demand. AM FRESH will be the controlling shareholder of the combined entity, with significant minority investment from EQT Future and continued investment from Paine Schwartz Partners.

The combined company will accelerate varietal breeding, development and commercialization, benefiting licensed growers, partners and consumers with more sustainable alternatives and improved varietal options. Together, AM FRESH, SNFL and IFG will propel innovation at large, ease production management for growers and facilitate commercialization to retail partners in order to deliver innovative varieties to consumers on a year-round basis.

What's the future for the global grape business?

March 22, 2022 | By

The international table grape industry came together on 17 March for the online Global Grape Congress, streamed live in two separate parts from Melbourne and London.

Focusing on the Asian market, the first part included discussions on India, Australia's export growth, South African promotions on the Chinese market and Korea's retail sector

Nitin Agrawal of India's Euro Fruits stated that the domestic market was a big untapped opportunity for the Indian table grape industry.

'We see a huge change in the coming years in the domestic market, which will favour branded grapes,' he said. 'India's grape industry lacks new varieties. It will take some time for them to come in – partly due to industry fragmentation. But we expect this to improve in the coming years, providing premium opportunities.'

Q&A with Andy Higgins, CEO of International Fruit Genetics

March 24, 2022 | By TOM KARST

The Packer’s Tom Karst interviewed Andy Higgins, CEO of Bakersfield, Calif.-based IFG, in February about trends in grape variety breeding and new introductions from the company in recent years.

Higgins said that proprietary fruit breeders such as IFG, Sun World and others are increasingly important in new variety introduction.

“The levels of investment that are required to create a new variety are going to be increasing over time,” he said. “There are so many technologies that we can apply to our work. Something that used to take 20 years, we could probably do it in 10 years because of good molecular techniques. However, all of those techniques take time, resources and money, which the private programs are in a better position to fund and develop them (compared to) public programs.”

Kern cherry growers turn to breeders as climate warms

March 27, 2022 | BY JOHN COX This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Help is on the way for Kern County cherry growers slammed in recent years by warmer winters and hotter springs.

Breeders including locally based IFG are working on new cherry varieties that ideally require fewer "chill hours" during the course of a winter. The intent is also to spin off trees with fruits that ripen on an earlier schedule, potentially offering local growers a time advantage, and breeds that are less susceptible to stress damage from soaring temperatures in May and early June.

But there's more to it. The fruit must also have the firm texture consumers demand, good flavor, an attractive appearance and the ability to withstand weeks in a shipping container bound for Asia.

How the pandemic has shaped the future of global fruit production in 2022

January 06, 2022 | Pablo Gómez, International Quality Assurance Manager for Table Grapes at IFG

A fast-paced industry already familiar with navigating unpredictable conditions and forecasting market demand, the agricultural sector never slowed down, even in the worst times of the pandemic.

However, that’s not to say the journey was without any roadblocks: COVID-19 brought a wave of challenges with everything from labor to logistics. Yet, as consumer interest in fresh produce increased by more than 10 percent in 2020, fruit suppliers, scientists, horticulturists, and growers are overcoming these setbacks to usher in a new period of efficiency and innovation.

Cherry breeding in Africa provides opportunities to meet growing demand

January 25, 2022 | By

Since its inception in 2001, IFG has focused on breeding table grapes and cherries that provide an incredible eating experience. The company is headquartered in Bakersfield, California, but wants their varieties to be enjoyed by consumers around the world. “Right from the start of the company, IFG focused on breeding cherries for warmer climates,” says Alwyn van Jaarsveld, International Cherries Commercial Manager. “With that strategy in mind, we brought our first cherries to Africa more than ten years ago, knowing that developing new varieties takes time,” he added.

The logical place to start was South Africa, as it has a wealth of climate zones, an abundance of resources, infrastructure, and labor, as well as an entrenched fruit industry. “South Africa’s fruit industry not only supplies locally but also regionally and abroad.” While IFG’s licensed nursery is based in the Western Cape, varieties are being trialed from the Western Cape in the South to Limpopo in the North.

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