California exports more than one third of its table grapes
The harvest of California table grapes started in May and the season will run through January. According to Jeff Cardinale, vice president of communications for the California Table Grape Commission, “the crop projection is 111.4 million 19-pound box equivalents of grapes will be harvested.” The 2016 volume was 108.9 million 19-pound box equivalents.
California grapes are being harvested in the San Joaquin valley. Summer time plays an important role for the crop. In 2016, 39 percent of the crop shipped in the period May through August, with over 60 percent of the crop shipped after September 1, meaning fall is when the majority of the crop is available. This makes California grapes a popular fruit in the spring, summer and fall months. The harvest season will continue in the San Joaquin valley into December.
More than 85 grape varieties are grown in California. The top five varieties in 2016 were: Scarlet Royal, Autumn King, Flame Seedless, Crimson Seedless and Sugraone. In 2016, 93% of grapes were seedless, 6% seeded and less than 1% unknown.
The export market is important for California table grapes. According to the USDA, 36 percent of the 2016 crop was exported. The main markets outside the US are Canada, Mexico, China, the Philippines, Taiwan and Japan. Promotions play an important role in introducing California grapes to consumers. They range from in-store sampling, giveaways, display contests and cooking demonstrations to promotions around the holidays like Diwali, the Moon Festival and Christmas.