The California table grape industry is growing by leaps and bounds with continued profitability in its crosshairs.

A report from Rabobank paints the California table grape industry as a robust business where variety innovation is strengthening its competitive advantage globally.

“The recent proliferation of new varieties has been key to expanding the late-season market for U.S. grape growers,” according to the report’s author – Karen Halliburton-Barber, a senior analyst with Rabobank.

“These varieties are helping growers shift to higher yielding, more efficient varieties to help mitigate rising production costs.”

Table grapes are a large segment of the U.S. produce industry with record-breaking retail sales last year at about $2.5 billion. Sales growth is rising about 9 percent annually.

“Rabobank sees the potential for U.S. table grape industry sales to grow to $3 billion in the next five years if current trends continue,” Barber told Western Farm Press.

Among the reasons for strong growth is growers are shifting from older varieties (Crimson, Thompson Seedless and Red Globe, for example) to newer varieties (including Autumn King) which can reduce grower input costs and boost productivity – in other words more boxes of fruit per acre.

New varieties

Another reason for the strong market growth is the more natural colors of newer varieties, and larger-sized fruit which is catching the attention of consumers looking for a different grape.

Today, shoppers prefer the grape colors red, green, and black, respectively.

Most table grapes today are seedless, which like mandarin citrus, are drawing strong consumer acceptance.