By Pamela Dykes
It was an annual family reunion. That’s not quite true but it was a reunion for sure and everyone felt like family at an important gathering for worldwide growers of table grapes. On August 18th, Sunridge owned International Fruit Genetics in conjunction with co-owner Jack Pandol, had its third IFG Global Summit in Bakersfield, California. Here, the top table grape growers from around the globe came together to see the new varieties being created by IFG and network with IFG licensed growers from thirteen different countries. Over 300 growers, retailers, and importers came together to walk the fields, taste the fruit, and study the growth and marketing of the most innovative new varieties of table grapes in the world. Each year IFG’s global presence has increased; and as the numerous buses pulled out for the field tours with trailing cars, all of us at IFG could not believe how much we have grown since our first Summit meeting in 2012.
This bi-annual event has become a place where anyone in the table grape community wants to be in attendance. It was exciting and wonderful to see old friends, make new ones, and keep buzzing about the new creations developed by IFG’s rock star plant breeder, Dr. David Cain. Most of you have heard about Cotton Candy® – not the kind you buy at the fair but the kind that is found in your grocery stores and looks like a grape…This is the kind of fruit being developed by Dr. Cain and his team to bring new, flavorful, and exciting table grape varieties to consumers. IFG is a table grape breeding company formed in 2001 that uses traditional methods of cross breeding to develop new varieties that are easier to grow with less input and have interesting shapes and flavors. Today, IFG has twenty-three patented table grape varieties with long shapes; raspberry and strawberry flavors; and sweet white, black and red varieties – mmmhmmm, good to eat grapes! IFG licenses growers around the world to grow and sell these patented varieties, creating a revolution in the table grape industry.
Furthermore, collaboration of all our licensees gives IFG the opportunity to bring everyone together and learn about these varieties, discuss how to grow them in different global regions, and share ideas about marketing strategies. During the Summit, IFG brought in a panel of seasoned retail experts who gave their insights on how to make the best fruit available to consumers. The room was packed and we had to collect all the chairs in the facilities with many attendees still at standing room only. After the day was through, everyone gathered to celebrate and enjoy seeing old friends and make new ones at a gala dinner