California shipped over 98 million boxes (97.4 million 19-pound box equivalents) of fresh California grapes during the 2011 season. With 39.6 million 19-pound box equivalents (41 percent of total volume) exported to more than 60 markets around the globe, 57.8 million 19-pound box equivalents were sold in the U.S.

(For more on California grapes, see here)

California’s fresh grape season begins in May, with grapes from California available around the world through January. California produces 99 percent of the commercial fresh grapes grown in the United States, with the California Table Grape Commission implementing a global marketing campaign throughout the entire season to create demand and preference for California grapes.

The California table grape industry has experienced significant growth over the past 40 years. With just over 20 million boxes shipped in the early 1970’s, volume has increased by almost five times, and is expected to reach 100 million in the near term. “The good news is that nearly all U.S. consumers eat grapes and nearly all prefer grapes from California. The challenge is to get them to eat more, while continuing to open up new opportunities in global markets,” states Kathleen Nave, president of the commission.

“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,” adds Nave. “While continuing to emphasize quality, flavor and heritage, the programs we’re putting in place for the coming season will strengthen our health platform and demonstrate easy ways of incorporating grapes from California into one’s daily diet.”

With the California table grape season less than one month away, trade, consumer and foodservice campaigns will kick off in May.