IFG: Early ripening cherries and exotic flavored grapes will gain ground in 2023

International Fruit Genetics recently published its 2023 forecast of fruit breeding trends with a focus on cherries and table grapes. According to the company, the market will soon see more grape varieties with unique flavors, as well as increased production of low-chill cherry cultivars, the latter being the industry's response to global warming.

According to IFG, the negative impact of climate change on cherry production was highlighted last year and this issue is expected to worsen in 2023. To develop flowers and fruit, cherry trees require a certain amount of downtime in cool temperatures. However, climate change has shortened the chill time and caused increased winter temperatures, wreaking havoc on cherry crops around the world. The introduction of new low-chill cherry varieties is seen as a crucial step in the industry's adaptation to fluctuating weather patterns.

In addition to developing heat-resistant cherry varieties, low-temperature cultivars open the door for cherry breeders and growers in non-traditional planting areas, which should allow for better production in warmer regions such as Southern California, Israel and Egypt, IFG said.

“The goal of a low chill cherry program is to start early and with low chill, which means that the fruit will need fewer chill hours over the course of the winter,” explains Alwyn van Jaarsveld, IFG's international business manager for cherries. He noted that by bringing the ripening period forward, cherry lovers will be able to enjoy the fruit before the regular start of the season.

“We are seeing these low-chill cherries being planted in more places than ever before, allowing for better maintenance of supply to the retail trade,” van Jaarsveld continues. In his opinion, the new trend allows retailers to create a more stable offer and prevent customers from becoming frustrated by the availability of “now you see me, now you don't” seasonal fruit. This adds another advantage to the new cultivars, making them a potential hit in 2023.

Regarding table grapes, IFG forecasts that the market will see more varieties with exotic flavors that seek to satisfy the extravagant tastes of consumers. Over the last decade, the palates of grape lovers have become more sophisticated, forcing the industry to continue adjusting and developing new strategies. Surprise and delight will be a motto this year.

“Today, table grapes can be spicy, menthol or have a tropical flavor and aroma. Some taste a bit like caramel or strawberries, and imagine grapes that contain a slight floral or papaya accent,” said Jennifer Maguire, IFG international business manager for table grapes. According to IFG, more eclectic flavors can benefit not only fruit lovers but also retailers by offering them unconventional ways to market their products and therefore increase their sales.

IFG is the world's largest fruit growing company and currently holds patents for more than 48 varieties of table grapes and 10 varieties of sweet cherries. Founded in 2001 and headquartered in Bakersfield, California, IFG patents and licenses its fruit varieties to traders and growers around the world.

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