California Table Grape Industry Continues Record-Breaking Shipping Season
California table grape growers shipped more than 27.7 million boxes into the worldwide marketplace from October 13 to November 30, the highest amount ever for the time period, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The previous seven-week shipment record during the same time period was set in 2013. Earlier this season, the five-week shipping record for the time period between September 8 through October 12 was broken.
The three-month period of September 1 to November 30 set another record with over 55 million boxes of grapes shipped—an all-time high, according to USDA, beating the previous record set in 2013 for this time period.
According to Kathleen Nave, president of the California Table Grape Commission, an aggressive fall and winter promotion program continues, with shipments expected to continue through the end of January.
Food Banks, Other Food Programs to Get Grapes as Part of Tariff Mitigation Program
New Release Edited By Patrick Cavanaugh
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently completed a purchase of more than 450,000 boxes of California table grapes as part of its tariff mitigation program.
California table grapes were included in the USDA Food Purchasing Program for the first time as part of the mitigation program because of the 53 percent tariff imposed on U.S. grapes by China.
According to the most recent USDA data, shipments of California grapes to China are down 42.2 percent in volume and 41.2 percent in value in 2018 compared to 2017.
“The 2018 season has been a tough one for table grape growers,” said Kathleen Nave, president of the California Table Grape Commission. “The tariffs on table grapes have been painful, but the real harm has been caused by the fact that tariffs on multiple competing commodities, such as cherries, stone fruits, and apples, caused more fruit of all kinds to be sold in the domestic market. The USDA purchasing program comes at a good time for table grape growers and is appreciated.”
Table grape suppliers interested in participating in the food purchasing program had to go through a rigorous process to become a USDA vendor and then if approved, submit bids in a competitive process. Multiple Valley companies were awarded the opportunity to supply California grapes to customers across the country.
The grapes will be distributed to food banks and other food programs around the country, starting in December.
Ad Series Highlights Links Between Grapes and Healthy Heart, Brain, and Colon
News Release Edited By Patrick Cavanaugh
A new ad campaign from the farmers of fresh California grapes highlights how consuming normal amounts of grapes each day may contribute to long-term health by helping to maintain a healthy heart, brain, and colon.
Reaching consumers online and through print and broadcast, the campaign revolves around a series of ads focusing on the power of the whole fruit: grapes contain more than 1,600 documented natural plant compounds, including antioxidants and other polyphenols.
Each ad highlights key research from scientific study in the area of heart, brain, and colon health. Scientists believe it is the combination of natural plant compounds and daily consumption that provides benefit.
“Consumers have always loved grapes for their great taste, convenience, share-ability, and beauty. Through this campaign, consumers will learn that the health benefits grapes provide go beyond the basics of eating a favorite fruit as part of a healthy diet,” said Kathleen Nave, California Table Grape Commission president. “It is already established that grapes are a heart-healthy food, and now research in the areas of brain and colon health is emerging that suggests that grapes may have an even broader role to play in long-term health.”
Nave noted that research into these three areas of health, and numerous others, will continue.
The campaign will run in magazines and newspapers in both print and online, on health-related websites, on television and radio, and on social media.
The California grape season is beginning, and the harvest will continue into the winter. California Ag Today recently spoke with Kathleen Nave, president of the Fresno based California Table Grape Commission, about table grapes.
The California Table Grape Commission was established by an act of the state legislature in 1967 and approved by a grower referendum in 1969. The purpose of the commission is to maintain and expand markets for fresh California grapes and to create new, larger interstate and foreign markets.
“We are just getting started with a California season. We will be picking grapes all the way into December,” Nave said.
Grapes are a spring, summer, fall and early winter fruit. Sixty percent of the table grapes that are harvested in the state of California are harvested after September first.
“I would just ask people to remember that they can enjoy California grapes in the spring and the summer, in the fall and into the early winter,” Nave said.
There are new varieties of California table grapes. These grapes have been grown by and designed to provide more product for the customer.
“New varieties of grapes were created that would allow growers to continue growing and harvesting in the late October, November, and December time period,” Nave explained.
These varieties were created with the climate in mind. This way, they can thrive and be packed and shipped in November and early December.
“It takes a long time to develop new varieties of table grapes, get them out in the field, learn how to grow them and to get them to the marketplace,” Nave said.
You might want to take a second look when reaching for fresh grapes in your local grocery store, said Kathleen Nave, president of the Fresno-based California Table Grape Commission. She urged buyers to choose California table grapes when grocery shopping.
“It can be convenient to reach for the nearest bag in the store when turning to grapes for a healthy snack, but what if we told you those grapes could be from places as far as Mexico or Chile? What if we then gave you the option to have some right out of your backyard?” Nave asked.
“If you have the choice, please choose the California grapes, because those are the grapes that are supporting our rural communities here,” she said.
Nave explained that the California Grape Commission is pushing retailers hard to get their grapes up on the shelf, and they need consumers to support them. She said that if the bag says U.S., then it is from California, as California grows 99 percent of the grapes that are commercially produced in the United States.
Nave explained that the best way to make sure you are buying local is by asking.
“Ask your produce manager for U.S. or for California grapes. That’ll make a big difference,” she said.
California table grapes are now being harvested. Kathleen Nave, president of the Fresno-based California Table Grape Commission told California Ag Today that fresh grapes are now available in local stores.
“California table grape growers began picking a couple of weeks ago, and consumers should be able to find California grapes in their stores today. And certainly, as the season progresses, grapes will be more and more available,” Nave said.
Consumers should be buying grapes for the taste as well as good health.
“Grapes contain about 1600 different phytonutrients—all kinds of things that are really good for us, and many important vitamins. There’s something magical in grapes that appears to have a lot of potential health benefits.”
Nave said she tells people that they need to be eating grapes basically every day because there’s something really good for us in the combination of things that are in grapes, and that’s grapes of all colors: red, green and black.
“They definitely taste great. Kids love them. So you know, they’re a healthy snack. They look beautiful when you add them to things like salads or you know, even pizza. You can even roast them. So they’re amazingly versatile and then they’re so good for us,” Nave said.
There are about 450 table grape operations in the state, from Southern California to Madera.
“There are vineyards in the Coachella Valley. We have long had a group of growers growing grapes in the desert,” Nave said. “Those are the earliest grapes that are available and are found in stores now, And then of course in the San Joaquin Valley, we have table grape growers from the Tehachapi Mounts North into the Madera area.”
Harvesting California table grapes is going strong. Many different varieties are being picked, and boxed in the vineyard and sent to the cooler for market.
“We’re harvesting in the San Joaquin Valley now, and just finishing up in the Coachella Valley,” said Kathleen Nave, President of the Fresno-based California Table Grape Commission. “The grapes are moving quickly into the marketplace in the US, Canada and around the world.”
“Mother nature has been kind so far with respect to the quality and the weather.” said Nave.
California Table Grape Commission is implementing a Grapes From California marketing campaign to connect with consumers around the world, as well in the U.S., focusing on usage, or ways in which grapes are consumed, and health benefits.
“We have brand new television commercials airing on the Food Network,” said Nave, “and we have Food Network magazine ads in the U.S. and similar ads in other parts of the world,” she added.
Nave said that the state’s grape growers have been amazing, producing two record crops, back-to-back, and now maybe a third. “So in 2012, we crossed the 100 million-box mark for the first time, and in 2013 ,we took a very big, unexpected jump, to 117 million. Our estimate for 2014 is just slightly higher than last year’s estimate,” said Nave.
A new television campaign for ‘Grapes from California’ launched in June on the Food Network.
“These commercials showcase the natural beauty, easy versatility and great taste of California grapes while communicating the value of sharing life’s special moments with family and friends, and the care that growers put into growing,” said Kathleen Nave, president of the California Table Grape Commission.
These 30-second commercials, the first two of a planned series of six, are seen during shows like, “Trisha Yearwood’s Southern Kitchen,” “Sandra’s Money Saving Meals,” “Home for Dinner with Jamie Deen,” and “Diners, Drive-ins & Dives.”
The Grapes from California commercials will run through December and and will be used in future seasons.