January 31, 2024

In2fruit’s Lac du Soleil Leads with Innovative Practices

Lac du Soleil

In the picturesque setting near Piketberg lies Lac du Soleil, a former ski resort transformed into a flourishing grape farm by In2fruit Berg River. With 60 hectares dedicated to commercial grape cultivation, this innovative venture began harvesting in early January, eight years after its inception. The farm’s ability to harvest varieties like Sweet Globe™ a fortnight earlier than usual, mainly for the Chinese market, exemplifies its forward-thinking approach.

Gerhard Olivier, the head farm manager, emphasizes the urgency of getting ripe grapes from the vine to the clients as swiftly as possible. In a groundbreaking move, In2fruit performs all weighing and packing directly in the vineyards. This strategy not only saves on packhouse construction, but also expedites the shipping process. Plans are underway to construct a small packhouse for mixed punnets and premium packaging, while the majority of the crop will continue to be packed in the field.

Lac du Soleil

Innovative Cold Chain Management and Logistics

Lac du Soleil has faced logistical challenges, particularly in securing containers and managing the capacity of their onsite cold store. However, they’ve adeptly navigated these hurdles, ensuring timely deliveries to Europe despite global shipping delays. Their facility boasts five forced cooling rooms, capable of rapidly cooling 21 pallets to zero degrees, a testament to their commitment to quality and efficiency.

In response to a shortage in red seedless grapes, the farm resorted to airfreighting 42 pallets to Ireland, despite the high costs. This decision underlines their flexibility and dedication to meeting market demands.

Sustainable Practices and Environmental Stewardship

A key focus for In2fruit is environmental responsibility. Olivier highlights their trials with paper bags, aiming to reduce plastic usage. Although more expensive and sensitive to moisture, these alternatives are showing promising results.

In2fruit is also refining its grape portfolio. They are trailing 18 cultivars, focusing on early and mid-season varieties, and have seen remarkable success with new cultivars like Autumncrisp® and Sweet Globe™. These new varieties not only outperform older ones in yield but also in quality, with some like Sweet Celebration™ and Adora® producing exceptionally high quantities of premium-grade grapes.

The farm’s journey hasn’t been without challenges. They’ve contended with abnormal rainfall and the necessity of drilling boreholes during droughts. Yet, they’ve managed these adversities with resilience and foresight, maintaining a balance between agricultural expansion and ecological harmony.
In2fruit Berg River’s Lac du Soleil stands as a shining example of agricultural innovation. From advanced cooling facilities to environmental consciousness, the farm demonstrates a commitment to excellence and sustainability.