Science-Based Maturity Standards on Track for Australian Table Grapes

1 July 2018

Data collected last season has provided a greater understanding of Australian table grape variability, and allowed science-based recommendations to be made for updated maturity standards that will encourage repeat purchasing.

Jenny Hunt collecting a sample from the Sunraysia area in early March.  Over 200 samples were collected from various locations in the 2017-18 season to track the maturity of different varieties.

The data and recommendations will be presented to key stakeholders from early July to invite industry input into the development of maturity standards that will benefit the whole supply chain.

The project (Table Grapes Supply Chain Quality 2017-2020 (TG17002) is being funded by Hort Innovation using table grape industry research and development levies and contributions from the Australian Government.  

The primary aim of this three-year project is to develop systems that will allow the Australian table grape industry to consistently meet consumer taste expectations, right from the start of the season. Research has strongly suggested that when the majority of fruit in market is liked by consumers they will buy more.

The new maturity standard recommendations are based on data collected last season from approximately 3000 farm, supermarket and export samples of all major varieties.

The project team’s ability to measure the Brix, acid and liking of individual berries allowed them to calculate brix/acid ratio and BrimA on the same fruit, which previously could not be done. The 3D position of each grape in a selection of bunches was also recorded along with individual Brix, acid, size and liking to determine the variability of brix and acid within the bunch, in relation to the sun.

Delytics Ltd Managing Director, Mark Loeffen, who is leading the project said, “We now have a greater understanding of variability of maturity within different varieties than what was previously available. That knowledge will now enable the industry to set fact-based sampling protocols and maturity standards that will help ensure that the majority of grapes that consumers purchase are pleasant to eat.”

Consultation meetings will be held with industry over the next few months to discuss the project team’s findings and recommendations. Input will be sought from across the industry including growers, marketers and supermarkets.

Australian Table Grape Association Chief Executive Officer Jeff Scott said, “The data collected last season has given us tangible evidence that we can now present to strategic industry stakeholders to help them make a decision around maturity standards.  As part of our consultations everything will be put on the table, including the current different maturity standards with variances. Our hope is that industry will come to a consensus on minimum maturity standards for the industry that everyone agrees to get behind and support.”

The new maturity specifications are expected to be announced and available for use prior to the start of next season.