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Grape commission promotions continue into winter and holiday season

As the autumn and winter periods become increasingly important for California table grape growers, fueled in large part by the introduction over the last few years of numerous high-quality late-season grape varieties from both industry-funded and private breeding programs, the California Table Grape Commission has responded with strengthened late-season consumer education activities, trade promotions and international market development activities.

California growers produce more than 70 varieties of table grapes, "and the vast majority of them are available" during the August-through-October time period, said CTGC President Kathleen Nave. "So there is a tremendous opportunity" for retailers to offer and for consumers to enjoy the many varieties that are available.

Many of the commission's activities are naturally, therefore, concentrated in the August-through-October period. But they also continue beyond that time frame, into the November and December holiday periods.

In the consumer education category, the commission has three major events planned for the November and December period, according to a written statement furnished by the commission to The Produce News.

One is a satellite media tour with The Food Network's Ellie Krieger that takes place during the first week of November from New York City. "Ellie will talk about how she likes to incorporate one of her favorite ingredients, grapes from California, into several dishes," the statement said. "She will also give tips on healthy holiday meals using grapes from California."

A fall Facebook sweepstakes will give fans of the Grapes from California Facebook page "an opportunity to enter a sweepstakes with a top prize of $1,000 Visa gift card, just in time for the holidays. Fans will be invited to watch the five videos created by registered dieticians and decide on which video they like best."

The dieticians featured in the videos are Patricia Bannan in Los Angeles, Heather K. Jones in San Francisco, Dawn Jackson Blatner in Chicago, Sara Jane Bedwell in Nashville and Tara Gidus in Orlando, FL.

"Grapes from California will also do a promotion with Win Win Radio in November," the statement said. Listeners will be asked to incorporate grapes from California in their favorite holiday dish. Winners in each market will receive a copy of the commission's recipe book, Green Black Red.

The commission's consumer advertising program will continue through the end of the year on several Food Network television, Food Network magazine and foodnetwork.com. Magazine ads will be accompanied by an advertorial featuring a registered dietician ambassador.

In Canada, ads will be carried in both English and French in Chatelaine magazine.

Retail tag opportunities will accompany the consumer ads. The ads, which will run in each monthly issue of Food Network magazine August through December, as well as in the October and December issues of Chatelaine, will be tagged geographically by market.

Additionally, "traffic radio is available to retailers who upgrade their California grape ads to front page or multiple varieties," according to the statement. "For those retailers that do not advertise, traffic radio is available when they feature grapes in store grand openings."

The commission also has a retail program "that includes a volume-based promotion award, consumer and category research, media incentives and point of sales materials, the statement said.

"In-store radio runs September through November, reaching consumers with messages about grapes while they are grocery shopping," according to the statement. "Retailers have the opportunity to receive in-store radio in stores where available in exchange for more display space devoted to California grapes."

The commission's international program, for the fall period, includes a Diwali-themed holiday retailer promotion in India as well as themed retailer promotions for Christmas and New Year holiday period in Mexico, Central America, Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia. "These themed promotions have somewhat different messages developed so that they are culturally appropriate," the statement said. In Mexico, for example, it is traditional to eat 12 grapes for luck at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve, and in the Philippines, it is traditional to eat round fruits on New Year's Eve.