World Trade of Table Grapes
Grapes are popular fruits. Everybody loves their sweet taste and convenient size, but do you know the vast industry behind table grapes? In this article, we will explore exporting countries, consumption areas, varieties, and ozone atmosphere application to increase shelf life and retail value.
International sales of fresh grapes totaled to US$8.8 billion in 2018, according to data from World's Top Exports. Below is a list of the top 15 exporter countries of fresh grapes and their value in the market.
- Chile, this South American country contributed to 14% of total exported grapes with US$1.2 Billion in 2018.
- The Netherlands participated with 11.2% and US$984.4 million.
- The United States sold US$926.3 million (10.5%)
- Italy US$795.9 million (9.1%)
- Peru US$763.1 million (8.7%)
- China US$689.6 million (7.9%)
- South Africa US$570.3 million (6.5%)
- Spain US$398.5 million (4.5%)
- Hong Kong US$369.22 million (4.2%)
- Australia US$ 306.8 million (3.5%)
- India US$288.6 million (3.3%)
- Egypt US$221.5 million (2.5%)
- Mexico US$198.1 million (2.3%)
- Turkey US$120.9 million (1.4%)
- Greece US$110.3 million (1.3%)
Data shows that the fastest-growing producers since 2014 are China, Mexico, Australia, Peru, and The Netherlands. There are many grape varieties. It depends on what you want to do with your harvest to determine which variety you need to plant. It is not the same to obtain grapes for fresh consumption or to make wine, or juice or to dry them as raisins.
With the scientific name of Vitis Vinifera, table grapes come with seeds, seedless, large, small, in a wide color range, different sweetness, and adaptability to the environment. For example, Thompson Seedless and Flame Seedless are preferred by producers because they are resistant to shipment and have a higher yield.
Hybrid varieties such as cotton candy are less common but sought after because of their unique flavor characteristics.
The business of table grape trading benefitted enormously from refrigeration technologies which appeared after the 1950s. Grape handling is complicated because they must be harvested by hand at peak ripeness, and then sorted, packed, and cooled to 0 degrees as quickly as possible. Refrigeration climbs the costs of logistics to export grapes. The long production times don't help either, a plantation will take 2 to 3 years to become productive.
North American and European markets consume the varietals:
California is the largest grape producer in The United States, over 70 varietals are grown there. Grape exports have also benefited from ozone atmosphere application, which is cost-effective, safe to use, saves water and energy, and is environmentally friendly. Ozone is approved by the FDA and the USDA as a food contact substance and is one of the best high-quality preservation methods for fresh produce.
Grapes are susceptible to decay due to pesticides and mold, and ozone takes care of that problem preventing decay and extending the life of fresh grapes. Ozone is also proven to significantly reduce residual pesticide levels present on grapes.
The science based article “Effect of ozonation on table grapes preservation in cold storage” reads:
Ozone is triatomic oxygen, a naturally occurring form of oxygen that was first identified in 1840. Except from the second most powerful chemical oxidant readily available, it is an excellent sterilizing strong sanitation and fumigation agent. Because of these properties, ozone has been studied for preservation of foods in the storage room and during shipping to prevent bacteria, mold, and yeast on the food surface and to control insects. It can also eliminate undesirable flavor produced by bacteria and chemically remove ethylene gas to slow down the ripening process, thus allowing extended distribution.
This article, and several others discussing ozone atmosphere application, provides a concise summary of the Table Grape Export Industry and its importance Worldwide.