Grape grower hit with big fine

Lauren CelenzaCountryman

A Carnarvon table grape grower has been slapped with a large fine after being caught growing Prime Seedless table grapes without permission.

The continuing fight against illegal table grape growers by Australian Nurseries Fruit Improvement Company (ANFIC) resulted in the significant settlement in Carnarvon.

Through the use of DNA technology in the market place, detection of the illegal growing of Prime Seedless table grapes has led to an arrangement where the grower responsible has incurred significant penalty fees and tight restrictions on future sales of the variety.

Prime Seedless, which ANFIC has exclusive rights within Australia to propagate and commercialise, is an early ripening white seedless variety with improved cultivation, shelf-life and characteristics.

ANFIC chief executive Gavin Porter is excited about the future of Prime Seedless table grapes in Australia, and believes the variety has the potential to become Australia’s top early ripening white seedless grape.

“Unfortunately, whenever there is a variety with as much promise as Prime Seedless, there is always the risk that some growers will try to gain an unfair advantage on legitimate growers, ” Dr Porter said.

ANFIC believes this settlement will protect the long-term interests of legitimate growers while also sending a message to those unauthorised growers who may try to cultivate Prime Seedless illegally.

All authorised Prime Seedless fruit will be tracked through the supply chain. The Carnarvon grower must comply with these contracted arrangements or face legal action if they are breached.

A previous unauthorised planting of Prime Seedless resulted in all vines destroyed.

Dr Porter said ANFIC would continue to vigorously protect the interests of its legitimate growers.

“ANFIC’s primary aim is to protect our authorised growers’ rights by ensuring Prime Seedless vines are not cultivated illegally,” he said.

“In this instance, we believed the most suitable approach was to legitimise the illegal cultivation and marketing of Prime Seedless.

“However, this settlement should not be interpreted as a precedent of how illegal growers of Prime Seedless or any other licensed ANFIC fruit varieties will be dealt with in future.

“ANFIC will have no hesitation to issue court proceedings to ensure that illegal Prime Seedless vines be immediately destroyed and any profits derived from illegal fruit be accounted for, on top of paying for any legal costs incurred in that process.”

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