South African grape variant to be launched at German fruit trade fair

6th February 2018 By: Dylan Slater - Creamer Media Staff Writer and Photographer

South African science institution, the Agricultural Research Council (ARC), in partnership with the South African Table Grape Industry (Sati) and Culdevco, plans to launch a seedless red table grape at the South African National Pavilion during the Fruit Logistica Trade Fair, which takes place in Berlin, Germany, from February 7 to 9.

The variety of locally grown seedless table grape is called Joybells 2018 and was cultivated in 2001 by table grape breeder and ARC senior researcher Phyllis Burger
Ahead of the launch, she noted her involvement in the development of numerous varieties of grapes over the years.
Burger highlighted that over the past ten years, ARC, together with the industry, has started to locally invest more into the seedless breeding programme to meet the demands of consumers; having previously relied heavily on importing such grapes.

With the launch and introduction of Joybells 2018, South Africa’s profile as a serious table grape grower and supplier worldwide will be elevated, said Sati CEO Willem Bestbier.
According to Bestbier, the table grape industry globally is “spoilt for choice” with many breeding programmes; “but nothing beats a home-bred success that has all the local breeding objectives focusing on our own reality like soil, climate, the market that we serve, farmers’ skills, and other input constraints or challenges that we face as the industry.”
He adds that experience over many years has showed that a home-bred and locally evaluated breeding programme often performs better than an imported one and that the risks are lower.
Culdevco GM Dr Leon von Mollendorff said that, of the five recent varieties that have been released by Culdevco and the ARC, Joybells is the most successful to be commercially released in the global market.

“To top this fruitful result, market feedback from prominent global retailers has been immensely positive, adding to the promise of the commercial success in Europe and beyond.”