Illegal table grapes from Egypt seized and destroyed by Italian authorities

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Grapa Varieties, successfully uncovered and halted the illegal shipment from Egypt to Italy, of their proprietary white seedless grape variety, Early Sweet™, hailing it as “a major victory for intellectual property rights protection.”

Grapa Varieties is a family-owned business specializing in table grape breeding and licensing under the Early Sweet and ARRA brands.

Last month (June 2023), a shipment of 16 tons of illegally grown Early Sweet grapes from Egypt was seized at the port of Ravenna, by the Italian Customs Officials. The confiscated shipment, intended for a company in Verona, was disguised as another grape variety, Sugraone, a common method to smuggle illegal grapes into the market. Over the years, infringers have continuously exploited their creativity, resorting to various tactics, such as assigning proprietary grape varieties alternative names.

However, Grapa closely collaborates with customs authorities at international ports, facilitating DNA tests to identify illegally produced varieties. The recent inspection was led by AVI srl, the authorized agent for Early Sweet and ARRA varieties in Europe. With the assistance of Giacomo Moleri, partner at Spheriens Avvocati and Grapa’s legal representative in Italy, DNA samples were taken from the shipment, and the results revealed a match with the DNA profile of Early Sweet grapes.

The importer responsible for the illicit shipment was reported to the Italian Public Prosecutor by the customs authorities. Consequently, the Public Prosecutor opened a file that is currently in the pre-trial investigation phase. Grapa, in conjunction with European Customs, has been actively involved in confiscating and destroying illegal shipments of table grapes, with this being the fourth container destroyed in recent years.

The Italian officials in action, inspecting the suspected shipment of Early Sweet variety.

Furthermore, Grapa has approached the Egyptian Authorities to report information regarding the name of the exporter, pack house, and farm involved in this infringement. Notably, Egypt has also made significant efforts to address such cases at their source. In a court ruling last year, over 9,000 vines of illegal Early Sweet grapes were ordered to be destroyed in Egypt.

“Grapa emphasizes the importance of holding all parties involved in such infringements accountable, from illegal nurseries and producers to packing houses, exporters, importers and supermarkets,” says Rafi Karniel, CEO and Chairman of Grapa Varieties.

The company urges all stakeholders and retailers to join forces with breeders in combating these unlawful practices, emphasizing that such misconduct has no place in 2023.

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