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With the 2011 season for fresh grapes from California two months away, final numbers from the 2010 season show the industry shipped nearly 100 million boxes of fresh grapes.

A total of 98.3 million boxes (97.7 in 19-pound box equivalents) of fresh grapes from California were shipped during the 2010 season, with 37.4 million boxes exported to more than 62 countries around the world. The remainder was sold in the United States. California produces 99 percent of the commercial fresh grapes grown in the United States.

“For consumers in the United States, California grapes are their local grapes,” Kathleen Nave, president of the Fresno-based California Table Grape Commission, said in a March 3 press release. “That is one of the reasons that 99 percent of the shoppers in the U.S. prefer grapes from California over those from any other source.”

The total value of the crop for the 2010 season was $1.3 billion. According to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, nearly half of that value ($618.9 million) was from exports.

“Strong demand in export markets has been a key to the strength of California’s fresh grape industry,” Ms. Nave added in the press release. “Expanding markets and maintaining strong demand in the U.S. and in export markets have been vital to this industry’s ability to survive and even grow despite the challenges that farmers everywhere in the U.S. face.”

California’s fresh grape season begins each year in May and runs through January. Last season, 45 percent of the volume was shipped between October and December. The top variety by volume was Crimson seedless, with 19.3 million boxes, followed by Flame seedless, Red Globe and Thompson seedless.

“With increased volume from new plantings, we expect that the industry will top 100 million boxes in the near future,” Ms. Nave added. “With consumers all over the world increasingly interested in healthy eating, grapes from California are well positioned as both a flavorful and healthy choice.”