Cotton candy grapes that taste like fairy floss now in Australian supermarkets

By Shelley Lloyd | Mar 18, 2018

It's every kid's dream - fruit that tastes like lollies.

Australian grape growers are cashing in on a fruit frenzy in the United States, where a horticulturalist has produced a green table grape that tastes just like fairy floss.

'Cotton candy grapes' are now being grown in Australia and have been available in supermarkets and fruit shops for a few weeks.

RW Pascoe fruit wholesaler Noel Greenhalgh said they were very different from the grapes most people know.

"They're very perfumed and very, very sweet - they certainly have the aroma and taste of fairy floss," Mr Greenhalgh said.

First crop planted in Australia in 2014

The grapes are not the result of genetic modification.

Mildura-based grower Adrian Caia planted the first 50 acres of cotton candy grapes about four years ago.

He said the breeder in America had used special budwood, which was a graft of root stock of plants from different parts of the world, "to cross breed the different varieties together to create the flavour".

"It's been grown in America for the past eight seasons and has gained a big following over there because of its unique flavours," he said.

"We decided to get the rights to grow it in Australia and introduce something new to the market which was a bit more suited to kids."

He said he had recently started producing enough grapes to supply supermarkets.

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Sweet Sapphire tipped to glisten in Asia

As South Africa builds its table grape portfolio in the Far East, an exciting black seedless variety may well pave the way.

By Fred Meintjes | Feb 14, 2018

South Africa's table grape markets in the Far East and South East Asia could be the beneficiaries of increased volumes of a new black seedless varieties introduced in the country.

This is the view of veteran Hex River Valley grower, Leon Viljoen, who is a central figure with introducing new varieties from the International Fruit Genetics (IFG) breeding programme.

IFG has been breeding new grape varieties in the US since 2001 under the leadership of Dr David Cain. IFG initially established contact with South African grower group, EXSA, of which Leon Viljoen is a shareholder. Since then, Viljoen has played a leading role in the evaluation of these cultivars in South Africa.

This week, with a number of vineyards laden with the new crop and harvesting due to start shortly, Viljoen showed Asiafruit the crop on two farms in the Hex Valley.

"One of these varieties, Sweet Sapphire, is a unique seedless black table grape, with elongated berries. We believe it will play a huge role in our marketing activities in the Far East region," said Viljoen.

With black seedless varieties taking a back seat in the traditional markets of the UK and Europe in relationship to red and white seedless, it is clear that shipments to the Far East, where black seedless varieties are very popular, will be a major focus for South African growers and exporters.

Having led the EXSA evaluation programme, Viljoen said he spent many hours observing breeding programmes overseas. "We also support the local breeding programmes but we are extremely happy with how the IFG varieties have performed."

Some years ago, Asiafruit watched the packing of the first Sweet Celebration red seedless variety at Mr Viljoen's farm Die Vlei in the Hex River Valley.

Sweet celebration is another IFG variety now extensively being planted in South Africa as an early season variety. On the same day, the unique elongated black grape, now named Sweet Sapphire, was also presented to a private tasting of table grape experts. The same variety was named as a winner for young vineyards in the Hex River Table Grape Block Competition last year.

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Melissa's Announces The First Shipment Of Sweet Sapphire Grapes

By Melissa's Produce | Jan 29, 2018

Los Angeles, California - Melissa's announces the first shipment of the season of fresh Peruvian Sweet Sapphire Grapes! The unusual two-inch tubular shape is not the only unique characteristic of this sweet table grape. Sweet Sapphires have a dark purple, almost black, skin that protects its translucent green and seedless fruit. With a sugar content that exceeds all other fresh grape varieties, the grape has an extremely sweet flavor balance reminiscent of a delicate dessert wine. Surprisingly, each grape is so firm it can be snapped in half and large enough to be stuffed!

Through natural cross-pollination, a tedious process done by hand over many generations of grape seasons, the variety offers both taste and versatility like no other. Serve Sweet Sapphire grapes stuffed as an interesting party platter finger food, as the base for a full-bodied reduction sauce or simply as a tasty sweet out-of-hand snack fruit. Available for a short time during the months of late January - March, cross merchandise Sweet Sapphires with cheese, crackers and wine for increases sales in a wide range of grocery categories.

Melissa's Produce is the leading U.S. variety distributor of specialty and organic fresh produce. The company imports exotic fruits and vegetables from around the world. Melissa's Produce can be contacted at 1.800.588.0151 or at

Source: Melissa's Produce

The Grape Revolution

Asianfruit Magazine - July/August 2017

BAKERSFIELD - ASIANFRUIT talks to Adny Higgins, CEO of International Fruit Genetics (IFG) - one of the industry's leading table grape breeders - about what the future holds for the sector.

By Jeff Long

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Cotton Candy Grapes: The Science Behind the Sweet, Carnival Taste

July 17, 2017

A new breed of green grape isn't fluffy or flossy, but it tastes just like cotton candy, according to news sources.

The carnival-evoking taste isn't the product of genetic engineering or artificial flavors, but rather the result of regular plant breeding, NPR reported.

"When you go to the supermarket, there's, like, 15 kinds of apples - Fuji, Pink Lady, Gala, Braeburn. The list goes on, "David Cain, a horticulturalist in charge of fruit breeding at International Fruit Genetics in Bakersfield, California, told NPR. "We want to give consumers the same array of flavors for grapes."

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The new grape varieties gaining ground in Chile, Peru

June 29, 2017

Chile and Peru play a crucial role in the global table grape trade as a source of counter-seasonal supply to northern markets, which themselves have long been shifting to newer varieties to entice pickier consumers.

But the uptake of these newer cultivars has been slower in South America when compared to growing areas like California, where they now represent half of production according to Decofrut director Manuel José Alcaíno.

The industry analyst took part in a recent event hosted by the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) in the Chilean capital Santiago, where varietal introduction was the overriding theme in crops such as grapes, blueberries and apples.

"The Peruvians are getting out of the supply of Red Globe, grafting and re-planting seedless varieties which have gone well," Alcaíno told participants.

"In the five main ones we have practically 80% of the production [of new varieties]," he said of the Peruvian industry, where the percentage of new varieties out of total exports has risen from just 0.5% in 2012-13 to 6.9% in 2016-17.

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New varieties bring new attributes to table grapes

June 10, 2015

By Kate Campbell

They look like grapes, but they taste like candy, strawberries, pineapple and many other interesting flavors-and today's table grapes also come in new colors and unexpected shapes.

David Cain, head of plant breeding activities for Bakersfield-based IFG, said there's a big shift going on right now in grape production, in California and around the world. Older, labor- and water-intensive grape varieties are being phased out, as farmers plant eye-catching, taste-tickling varieties with higher yields.

"Growers come to our company asking about new varieties," Cain said, adding that a number are looking to replace older varieties, such as Thompson seedless and autumn royal. "They want to try something new."

He said the company doesn't create genetically engineered crops; instead, new varieties are created using advanced breeding techniques in traditional approaches. IFG was founded in 2001 by table grape grower Jack Pandol Jr. and the owners of Sunridge Nurseries, Glen and Terrie Stoller.

It used to be that new plant varieties were developed during years of study and experimentation, involving research activities at both the U.S. Department of Agriculture and universities. But these days, a lot of that painstaking work is being done by private plant breeders such as Cain and IFG.


Cherry breeders seek improved varieties

The Packer | Apr 28, 2014

Breeders always are looking for a bigger, better, sweeter cherry, but in Southern California, where timing is everything, earliness of the fruit is a prime concern.

BQ Genetics, Le Grand, Calif., develops varieties for Warmerdam Packing LP, Hanford, Calif., said Glen Bradford, a partner in BQ Genetics.

The company typically sees 3,000 hybrids per year that have potential for producing new varieties, he said.

It was BQ Genetics that developed the tulare and Sequoia varieties.

Warmerdam will start production of what BQ has named the Arvin Glen in 2015, said Maurice Cameron, sales manager for Warmerdam's sales arm, Flavor Tree Fruit Co. LLC in Hanford. However, the company likely will market the variety under a different name.

Arvin Glen grows well in low-chill regions, like the Arvin area in the southern part of the San Joaquin Valley. It's about the same size as the bing cherry, though it comes off two weeks earlier, Bradford said.

The timing of the early fruit is important to growers because early cherries can open at $200 per box, then quickly drop to $100, $80 then to $60 as volume picks up and the fruit becomes more plentiful, he said.

Zaiger's Genetics, Modesto, Calif., has developed seven commercial cherry varieties, said Leith Gardner, daughter of founder Floyd Zaiger.

Flavor, shelf life, appearance, firmness, rain tolerance and ability to ship well are some of the characteristics the company breeds for.

Climatic conditions have been changing, Zaiger said, and she's heard that some growers are not getting the sets they used to get with the bing.

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Cotton Candy® A Sweet Spin On Designer Fruit

August 06, 2013 - by Michaeleen Doucleff

Can't we just leave our fruit alone?

Last year, apple farmers were their fruit in grape flavor to make them more attractive to kids. Now, plant breeders in California have created a grape that tastes like - well, spun sugar and air.

That's right, Salties. Say hello to the Cotton Candy grape.

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Cotton Candy® In The News

May 13, 2013

Table grapes come in many varieties, red, green, seedless, and now cotton candy. It isn't something most people would associate with the flavor of a grape but IFG created a variety it says tastes just like spun sugar.

IFG General Manager David Cain said, "It tastes quite a bit like cotton candy."

It's been eight years in the making. Cain says by breeding wild grape species, they've developed the unique flavor.

"This is all natural and we don't do any genetic engineering or anything," said Cain.

It's not a simple process. They start by pollinating the vines by hand. Cain says there are anywhere from 300 to 1,000 flowers on each of the 2,000 clusters.

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