You may have noticed more options for grapes at your local grocery store in recent years. In addition to the typical red, black, and green grapes that have always been available, there are now unusual shapes and unique flavors including those grapes that that taste like cotton candy! But have you thought about how these new varieties are developed and patented?
The Cotton Candy grapes are not genetically modified and do not contain any additives to impart the favor. Instead, these grapes were developed through plant breeding techniques by Dr. David Cain at the Bakersfield, California-based company International Fruit Genetics (IFG). In the United States, newly developed varieties of grape are normally protected by plant patents. A plant patent can be obtained for any distinct and new, asexually reproduced variety of plant, other than a tuber propagated plant or a plant found in an uncultivated state.
The grape variety that tastes like cotton candy, ‘IFG Seven’, is protected by United States Plant Patent #23,399, granted in 2013. The patent states that the variety produces large, oval green seedless berries with a distinctive flavor described as toffee or cotton candy.
While children and adults alike may be most excited for the Cotton Candy grapes, Dr. Cain has also developed numerous other grape varieties. To date, IFG has obtained plant patents for over 40 different varieties of grapevine. So, what else might be coming to a grocery store near you in the future? One of their most recently granted plant patents (U.S. Plant Patent #31,771) is for the variety ‘IFG Forty-one’, which is described as producing seedless red grapes with a strong fruity flavor that is reminiscent of strawberries!