U.S.: Californian grape exports break records in Asia in 2011

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U.S.: Californian grape exports break records in Asia in 2011

The U.S.' main grape state has just recorded its second-biggest export season ever, with 344,997 metric tons (MT) of the fruit shipped from May through to January.

California accounts for 99% of commercial fresh grapes grown in the U.S., and between the domestic market and exports it shipped more than 98 million boxes for the year, according to the Californian Table Grape Commission.

The state shipped 41% of the total volume overseas to more than 60 different markets.

"Asia is the industry's largest export region, with many of those countries seeing record export volumes on an individual basis in 2011 - six of the industry's top 10 export markets are in Asia," the commission's VP of international marketing Susan Day tells www.freshfruitportal.com.

"Canada was almost 26.6% of exports, Southeast Asia (Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam) was 15.7%, Mexico was 14.3%, China (including Hong Kong) was 13.4% and Central America as a region (including Dominican Republic) was 5.9%."

In terms of specific countries, Canada, Mexico, China and Indonesia rank the highest in order.

In a release, the commission highlighted the state has registered five-fold growth since it shipped just 20 million boxes annually in the early 1970s.

"The good news is that nearly all U.S. consumers eat grapes and nearly all prefer grapes from California," says commission president Kathleen Nave.

"The challenge is to get them to eat more, while continuing to open up new opportunities in global markets.

"Research has shown that consumers around the world are looking for great tasting, naturally healthy, convenient food choices, and grapes from California fit perfectly into this."

The season starts in May with the commission set to kick off trade, consumer and food service campaigns both domestically and internationally.

"Each year the California Table Grape Commission conducts a strong promotional program designed to motivate increased purchase from importers, retailers and consumers," says Day.

"The campaign includes taking space at trade shows around the world, partnering with the retailers to create in-store activities that increase consumer purchase frequency, and advertising campaigns.

"Programs designed to target doctors about the many health benefits of California table grapes plus a campaign targeting foodservice outlets are also included in the marketing mix."


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