Profit Soars in California Grape Market
Gold may currently be at its highest price of all time, but it seems there may be more interest in products that are a little bit juicier. This is not by any means a new revelation. The realization of how much profit could be made in the California grape market came about as early as the 1800’s. At this time people first ventured to California with a gleam in their eye and high hopes of making it big in the gold mining business. These prospectors quickly realized with the perfect grape cultivating conditions offered in California there was more money to be made in the raising and selling of grapes than in the gold market. Since then California grape growers have been a major competitor in the grape market with their grapes making up 98 percent of the fresh grapes grown in the United States. The California grape growing industry is made up of around 550 grape farmers whose fresh produce is desired globally. In fact, last year alone one-third of California table grapes were exported overseas. This is about 646 million pounds of grapes. For those having problems picturing such a sizeable amount of grapes, it would be equivalent to the weight of 63,742 adult African elephants. When considering that the California Table Grape Commission reveals that California table grapes were shipped to 65 countries from May to December of 2009 the number of pounds makes sense. The commission’s main task is to maintain and increase markets for the exporting of fresh California grapes as well as create new markets to export their grape produce to. Judging by the export amount from last year it seems business is very good.
California is already rather well established in many areas globally. This includes the top five export countries for California table grapes which are Canada, Mexico, China, the Central American Region and Australia. Susan Day of the California Table Grape Commission believes the popularity of the grape market in California is in large part due to a few key features they offer that are unique to California. “Many countries around the world grow table grapes and export them like California. Table grapes have been grown in California for several generations and the expertise of the industry, combined with the production of table grape varieties that consumers want (green, red and black, both seeded and seedless), the perfect growing conditions such as the long, hot summers and the rich soil irrigated with fresh mountain water, results in quality table grapes that are in consistent demand,” Day explains. Day continues, “California’s supply season (May through January) is also counter to much of the world’s supply of table grapes – it is counter-seasonal from grapes grown in South American countries, Australia and India.” This explains the high demand for table grapes grown in California.”
Opposite growing seasons are obviously a plus, but the knowledge and passion shown for grape growing by the farmers are clearly an additional reason the desire for their grapes is so great. Day explains this is only one of the rationales for the tremendous amount of areas interested in importing the grapes. California table grape growers are constantly working to make improvements and challenge themselves to find new ways to work with and respect the environment. “California table grape farmers have long sought innovative ways to grow a healthy product in a fruitful and efficient manner. Impelled by the ever-changing, complex and highly competitive nature of California table grape production, industry has worked to develop new varieties to meet changing consumer tastes, advanced farm productivity and efficiency, and refined environmentally-sound growing techniques. Some of the recent studies focus on refining commercial grape-growing practices in an effort to reduce pesticide use, improve grape quality, productivity and packaging and conserving water. The California table grape industry has funded viticulture research since 1972,” says Day. Not only are they working to make their products more natural and healthy, but the commission is lessening their carbon footprint as well. This is beneficial to the grape market because these days is seems people everywhere are trying to lead healthier, more environmentally friendly lifestyles. Since grapes have antioxidants they provide people with support for a healthy heart. This is just one of the numerous health benefits grapes provide people and one reason grapes are so popular all around the world.
While the California grape market has been very prominent in the regions that were aforementioned as well as some additional, the market has recently expanded to exporting products into several newer areas. Day says, “The most recent market to which California table grapes are exported is Russia. Exports to the Russian Far East market have been shipped for a number of years, but the industry is now also sending fruit to the western side of Russia – the Moscow/St. Petersburg corridor. The industry exported 2,322 metric tons to Russia last year, up from 142 metric tons five years ago. Other recent markets included access to India in 2001 and access to Australia in 2002. Australia is now the industry’s 4th latest export market,” Day states. This means big business for those companies who are currently in the exporting business or those thinking about getting their feet wet.
Consumers buy grapes for various reasons. Whether it be to soak up the health benefits, make wine, or just to enjoy their refreshing, fruity taste there will always be a market for grapes. This means the California grape market will always have a place to continue their expansion and break into and succeed in new and interesting markets.