How UK retailers can ramp up for California table grape season

California grape harvesting

Grape harvesting starts in California in May

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Originally published on PerishableNews.com

PerishableNews

Produce Business UK catches up with the California Table Grape Commission (CTGC) as The London Produce Show and Conference gets underway to find out more about plans for the new season

Last season, slightly more than one-third (34.7%) of the crop’s total 109.3 million 19-pound box equivalent volume was exported to over 50 countries worldwide, and the top five of these were Canada, Mexico, China and Hong Kong, the Philippines and Taiwan. Europe, Africa and the Middle East are also important export markets for California table grapes.

“This is an ideal time and venue for discussions on what the commission’s promotional programme has to offer to motivate buyers, both importers and retailers, to handle California grapes throughout its May-through-January season,” says Susan Day, vice president of international marketing for the Fresno-headquartered CTGC, who will be accompanied at the commission’s booth by the UK representative, Andrew Brown.

“The UK is the largest export market in Europe, hence the London location for the show is perfectly suited for the commission’s goals,” says Day.

Creating demand

Day explains that for specialty crops, like table grapes, each season is effectively a start-up business. That is, demand has to be created with key importers and retailers, and with consumers. Every year the promotional program is developed in an effort to regain volume that was filled in the off-season by other countries that produce fresh grapes. Once shelf space is regained, growth is sought.

“Each year as the season approaches, helping to persuade the import and retail trade to handle California grapes as soon as possible is paramount. Only after California grapes are on the store shelves can any consumer effort be initiated. As the UK imports from more than 20 countries each year, we need to work out with the buyers when they plan to have California grapes in their stores and plan promotions,” Day explains.

The CTGC has conducted promotions with several major retail chains in the UK for many years. Promotions include samplings, on-pack information/contest leaflets, point-of-sale materials and in-store radio advertising. These same programmes are available for retail chains to educate their customers about California grapes this season.

Materials available at the CTGA booth will include variety booklets that describe the top 15 table grape varieties shipped out of California, as well as fruit storage and handling information.

“I’m looking forward to meeting with the buyers with whom I’ve met before and with new buyers from among The London Produce Show attendees,” says Day.

The London Produce Show and Conference runs from June 8-10 and is held at the Grosvenor House hotel, Park Lane. Register here.

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