7 May 2012

Table grape growers looking for boost

6:27 am on 7 May 2012

Grape growers who grow their fruit for eating and not for wine, are banding together to raise the profile and production of the small industry.

They've set up a national representative body, the Table Grape Growers Association.

Chairman Robin Janson says New Zealand imports $50 million worth of table grapes each year, mostly from Australia, Chile and the United States.

He says that raises issues of biosecurity and means customers are buying month-old grapes which lack the nutrients and flavour of those which are locally grown.

Dr Janson says the time is ripe for a revival of New Zealand-grown table grapes.

He says one of the issues that has faced table grape growers in New Zealand are summers that are not long enough or hot enough to get some of the traditional varieties of table grapes fully ripened and ready for market.

But Dr Janson says that's changed over the last 10 - 15 years as newer more cold tolerant varieties have been bred around the world.

He says the association hopes to collate what types of grapes are being grown around the country and looking at potential imports of some of the newer, more adaptable varieties.

About 12 growers have joined so far.