Valley-grown grapes part of Sunkist expansion

FRESNO, Calif.

Summer Royal Black Seedless Grapes growing in a Fowler vineyard will soon be picked, packed and shipped around the globe. George Bravante is one of just two growers selected by Sunkist to provide grapes for the company's newest venture.

Bravante has had success independently marketing his own grapes but was drawn by Sunkist's global reach. The owner of Bravante Vineyards explained, "The Sunkist brand is an iconic brand. They have customers all over the world. Domestically all over the country so we're seeing access to markets we never had before. More access means more demand means higher prices mean everybody's happy."

When you think of Sunkist you think of oranges. It is the world's largest citrus marketing cooperative. Sunkist has been around for 118 years but was looking to expand its portfolio.

Claire Smith is the director of corporate communications. She said, "We chose grapes because they're like citrus. They taste great. They're convenient. They're healthy. They have lots of nutrition and people love them."

Bravante said, "Fowler here in south Fresno is probably one of the great places on earth to grow table grapes so we have the product." Bravante grows 14 table grape varieties over a thousand acres for Sunkist. He said grape demand is growing in Asian countries. "It's just Sunkist has got thousands of customers who all want grapes so it made sense for us."

Bravante was already a partner with Sunkist as a citrus grower so he was a natural choice to help provide the company's first grape crop.

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