Michael Simonetta

Michael Simonetta

Perfection Fresh Australia and FruitMaster have merged their table grape operations, in the process creating Australia's largest table grape grower-marketer.

Trading as FruitMaster Australia, a key aim for the merged business will be to build on FruitMaster’s position as Australia’s largest table grape exporter.

“We are exploring opportunities through all of Asia, Middle East, and other markets,” said Perfection Fresh chief executive and FruitMaster Australia director Michael Simonetta. “The current grape protocol for China is workable but we need continued government support in establishing new export markets and to truly capitalise on the free trade agreements.”

FruitMaster Australia’s export division will be headed up by Brett Pickering, who said he was excited by the breadth of grape varieties that could now be offered to international markets.

The new business will have a board level representation from both Perfection Fresh and FruitMaster, and boasts a large portfolio of exclusive grape varieties and proprietary genetics.

FruitMaster Australia will supply table grapes through an extensive network of strategically aligned third party growers, along with three of its own farms in Kenley, Robinvale and Paringi. It will also operate a packing and distribution centre at Robinvale.

FruitMaster Australia director and chief executive Joe Lanteri said he was excited to have access to the breeding programme and proprietary genetics Perfection Fresh Australia brought to the merger.

“These capabilities will enable us to better respond to consumer trends and bring the very best in new grape varieties to market,” said Lanteri. “There are already several new exclusive grape varieties that have recently cleared quarantine and with the merged network of farms and third party growers, we will be able to accelerate the introduction of these varieties and previously released varieties to retailers.”

FruitMaster Australia expects to market 2.5m cartons of table grapes this year, split between its third party growers and its own production.

Perfection Fresh’s table grape team will join FruitMaster Australia, with Simonetta remaining the main contact for licensors. There will be no redundancies as part of the merger.

“This will retain speciality expertise and ensure a seamless transition for our third party grower network and licensors by maintaining important relationships as well as the quality service they are accustomed to,” said Simonetta.