We believe the future of stone fruit lies in the identification of exciting new varieties, setting new benchmarks in terms of brix and eating experience, working closely with our growers at source and bringing real points of difference to retailers globally.
That said, we have been tracking and investing in various breeding programmes since the inception of Fruits Unlimited in 2001.
Perhaps our greatest success to date came in 2008, when we introduced Flavor Fall to South African growers. Part plum, part prune, this exciting pluot has an exceptional eat and unique appearance. We planted Flavor Fall extensively and extended the South African plum season by 4-6 weeks, exporting product for up to 10 weeks of the year.
To date we have planted more than 180 hectares and we export Flavor Fall for up to 10 weeks of the year.
At present, we’re continuing to invest in important breeding programmes. From Californian-bred early low-chill peach, nectarine and cherry varieties, to late apricots from France to extend our season into the New Year, through to high-chill cherries from British Columbia, we continue our quest to bring exceptional stone fruit varieties to South Africa.
At the heart of this investment in innovation is The Custom Plum Company (CPC). CPC, a joint venture between The Unlimited Group and our long standing partner The Fresca Group, focuses on bringing new plum and pluot varieties to South Africa’s stone fruit industry. CPC utilises the unequalled pipeline of genetic material coming from Zaiger Genetics of California.
For more information on The Custom Plum Company, click here.
Our range of plums begins in week 46 and stretches until week 21, with our late, late pluot, Flavor Fall.
Our classic range of Plums, typical of South Africa, are a great fit for Ripen at Home or Punnet Plum products. Ranging from C-AA sizes, these more conventional varieties are tried and tested and are available all season.
We also have a range of high brix varieties, expertly selected for superior flavour profiles. These varieties are available in larger sizes (A-AAA) and are perfectly accompanied by our range of pluots to form a truly unique 28-week Ripe and Ready offer.
At the heart of our stone fruit innovation is our range of pluots and The Custom Plum Company.
Not content with simply breeding normal plum varieties, the Zaiger’s have crossed multiple different fruit types within the Prunus category, using natural pollinating techniques. Crossing fruit types in this way creates completely new products known as pluots or interspecific plums. Each cross gives rise to a distinctive plum, with exceptional flavour profiles and unique appearances
Our product range is constantly evolving as new varieties make their way through the evaluation stages and into our weekly tasting sessions at Fruits HQ in South Africa. From dappled skins and beetroot red flesh, through to varieties with midnight black skin and a rich, golden yellow colour on the inside, we are dedicated to flavour and are convinced our pluots will make for a truly unique addition to any Ripe and Ready offer.
Fruits Unlimited is the exclusive exporter of CPC cultivars. Click here for more information on these new and exciting stone fruit varieties.
Alongside the more conventional South African varieties, such as the Bebeco and Imperial varieties, we are focussed on developing an exciting offer of new cultivars, available only by air at the moment.
Focusing on eating quality first, we aim to be able to deliver a full winter season of exceptional apricots, with excellent colour and beautiful blush to match – just like the Faralia apricot pictured here!
NECTARINE & PEACH
We have been exporting peaches and nectarines for over 10 years and have developed a robust offer, with our season now stretching over 20 weeks.
As well as extremely early varieties, we have invested in new varieties from numerous breeding programmes globally. Perhaps the most successful of these varieties are Californian-bred, early low-chill varieties, from the same Zaiger Genetics that bred our pluot range.
Our Marvin Nies peaches also add to our early peach offer. These low-chill peaches come in both white and yellow flesh varieties.
A key area of innovation for us is our packaging development. Our quality and packaging teams work closely to both identify quality problems which are a result of ineffective packaging, and subsequently design packaging to reduce damage in transit—ultimately increasing the overall quality of our fruit upon arrival. A great example of this is the work we have recently done on our apricot packaging. After experiencing high incidence of rub marking on apricots for a number of seasons, we set out to create a packaging solution which would reduce movement in transit, protecting the fruit from rub marking. We began trialling different ideas, for both sea and air freight, and across varieties and sizes. After just one season, the results of this work were clear, with a noticeable reduction in these quality issues. A great success story for our packaging team!
Another example of our packaging innovation can be seen when we pack our favourite late, late pluot, Flavor Fall. By using modified humidity packaging (MAP) in the form of Xtend® bags, we are able to significantly increase the shelf life of our product. In using Xtend® bags, the packed Flavor Fall equilibrates within the optimal range of O2 and CO2 concentrations. This slows senescence and ripening processes, maintains the nutritional value and flavour, and inhibits the growth of pathogens, thereby reducing decay upon arrival.