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Strong projections for California grape exports to Asia

Worldwide demand for fresh grape exports from California continues to be high.

Worldwide demand for fresh grape exports from California continues to be high.

During the 2015-2016 season, California´s table grape growers harvested their third largest crop ever, sending 110.5 million boxes of grapes to more than 55 countries around the world, and setting a new record for crop value at US 1.83 billion.

Asia is the biggest export region for California, and geographically that makes a lot of sense because is just across the Pacific Ocean. Without Canada, which is a very large market, Asia is just under 56% of the total, so it is quite significant.

According to California Table Grape Commission vice president of international marketing Susan Day, California grapes “have seen tremendous growth in this region over the last 10 to 15 years and we are targeting more countries this year than in the past. The reports from buyers around the region are extremely positive.”

The total crop for this year is projected to be 117 million boxes, with the harvest expected to be ongoing through November and into December and that means that there is potential for California grapes to be available for the Chinese New Year, which is in January.

Day spoke of a very positive outlook for this season.

“We are doing some different promotional activities this year; we’ve done some promotions in China targeting the media with stories about California grapes, and we are also doing some consumer promotions in shopping malls leading up to the Moon Festival, and giving some ideas for a new California grape Moon Cake that we have developed, specifically for that purpose. All designed to motivate demand from the trade and consumers.” she said.

This article was first published in edition 145 (Sep-Oct 2016) of Eurofresh Distribution magazine on page 96. Read more grape and other fresh produce news from that issue at: www.eurofresh-distribution.com/magazine/145-2016-sepoct.

Image source: www.facebook.com/GrapesFromCalifornia

 

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Grapes from California now reach over 60 countries

Of the top ten export markets for California table grapes, seven are in Asia, But Canada remains by far the leader, taking 11.3 million 19-pound boxes over the 2015-16 season, followed by Mexico at 5.7 million and China (including Hong Kong) at 3.5 million.

The California table grape season is underway once more, making high quality grapes in three colours and a wide array of varieties (seeded and seedless) available to consumers around the world.

Indeed, exports accounted for more than a third – 34.7% – of the 2015-16 production, with a total of 37.9 million 19-pound boxes of California grapes valued at $737.8 million shipped to more than 60 export markets, USDA export data shows.

Top 5 exports markets 2015-16
​1 Canada
2 Mexico
3 China/Hong Kong
4 Philippines
5 Taiwan

Of the top ten export markets for California table grapes, seven are in Asia, But Canada remains by far the leader, taking 11.3 million 19-pound boxes over the 2015-16 season, followed by Mexico at 5.7 million and China (including Hong Kong) at 3.5 million. Next come the Philippines (1.9 million), Taiwan (1.8 million), Indonesia, Australia, South Korea, Malaysia and Japan. And exports to Central America, Colombia and the Dominican Republic continue to be high, with a combined total of 2 million 19-pound boxes last season.

Global promotion campaign kicks off

The California Table Grape Commission has already launched new global promotions for California grapes. “The campaign focuses on motivating the trade to promote, and consumers to buy, more grapes from California more often,” said commission president Kathleen Nave.

Retailers in all export markets are now being targeted with promotions to motivate their handling of California grapes in chain-wide, season-long promotions. As part of the marketing plans for the 2016-17 season of California grapes – available from May through January – these promotions could include sales challenges targeting produce managers, display contests, in-store California grape samplings, in-store radio advertising, chef demonstrations at the point-of-purchase, themed holiday promotions in-store, advertising in retailers’ own magazines and customer mailers, as well as unique point of purchase materials including display bins and mascots.

Reflecting the diverse and far-flung markets for California table grapes, themed promotions offered to retail chains include those for the Moon Festival in China, Taiwan and Vietnam, Halloween in New Zealand, Diwali in India and Singapore, plus Father’s Day in Thailand.  Toward the end of the year, themed holiday promotions for Christmas and New Year will be conducted with retail chains in Mexico, Central America, Colombia and Dominican Republic, plus in the Philippines.

Furthermore, promotions targeting consumers and press relations will be launched in several major cities in mainland China to motivate journalists to include stories about the positive attributes of California grapes in their media, with consumers targeted with educational information during the promotions.

California the epicentre of US grape growing

California produced a total of 110.5 million boxes (109.3 million 19‐pound box equivalents) of green, red and black table grapes last season, which was the third largest crop volume in its history and set a new record crop value at $1.83 billion. “Since the industry surpassed the 100 million box mark for the first time in its history in 2012, the total crop volume has seen three consecutive years over 110 million boxes,” Nave said.

Coachella Valley and San Joaquin Valley are California’s table grape growing regions. The state boasts more than 470 table grape farming operations and grows 99% of all the table grapes grown in the United States.

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Grape polyphenols help offset harm of high fat diet

“The results showed that the high-fat diet combined with grape polyphenols reduced the percentage of body fat, subcutaneous and visceral fat depots, markers of inflammation in the liver and fat depots, and improved glucose tolerance and intestinal barrier function."

Grape polyphenols helped offset some of the adverse health consequences of consuming a high fat diet rich in saturated fat, according to two laboratory studies1,2 conducted at the University of North Carolina Greensboro, and published recently in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.

According to a press release by the California Table Grape Commission, in the first study, the researchers found that consuming a high butter-fat diet (33% of energy from fat) enriched with 3% grapes for 11 weeks was associated with a lower percentage of overall body fat and reduced subcutaneous fat deposits. These reductions in body fat were positively associated with changes in intestinal microbes and health; e.g., increases in some beneficial bacteria, decreases in some less desirable bacterial strains, increases in microbial diversity, and improved gut barrier function.

In the second study, which ran for 16 weeks, the researchers used an even higher fat diet (44% of energy from fat ) with multiple types of saturated fat, including lard, beef tallow, shortening, and butter similar to some Western-type diets. They investigated the impact of the high fat diet enriched with extracts of either the polyphenol fraction of grapes or the non-polyphenol portion of grapes, as well as the high fat diet plus 5% whole grapes. All the high fat experimental diets were matched for sugar type and amount.

“The results showed that the high-fat diet combined with grape polyphenols reduced the percentage of body fat, subcutaneous and visceral fat depots, markers of inflammation in the liver and fat depots, and improved glucose tolerance and intestinal barrier function. While the 5% whole grape diet did not improve the metabolic profile in this second study, it did improve markers of intestinal health; e.g., increased microbial diversity and decreased abundance of several deleterious bacteria in the intestinal tract,” the commission said.

Obesity affects approximately one-third of the adult population in the U.S. and is associated with inflammatory conditions that disrupt the metabolic process and can lead to metabolic syndrome. Gut microbes are thought to play a role in the development of metabolic syndrome; e.g., obesity is associated with a decrease in microbial diversity and impaired barrier function in the intestinal tract.

“These two studies suggest that grapes and grape polyphenols may help offset a number of the adverse effects of consuming a high fat diet and trigger improvements in intestinal or systemic health,” said Michael McIntosh PhD, lead investigator of the study. “This is an exciting area of health that merits further study.”

1 Baldwin J et al. Table grape consumption reduces adiposity and markers of hepatic lipogenesis and alters gut microbiota in butter fat-fed mice. J Nutr Biochem 27 (2016) 123 – 135.

2 Collins B et al. A polyphenol-rich fraction obtained from table grapes decreases adiposity, insulin resistance and markers of inflammation and impacts gut microbiota in high-fat fed mice. J Nutr Biochem 31 (2016) 150-165.

Source of images: Grapes from California