As the table grape season continues to gain momentum heading into the fall, the California Table Grape Commission will pave the way with domestic and international promotional programs.
Domestically, those include in-store radio in grocery outlets, a social media campaign, in-person meetings with retailers and continued tie-ins with the Food Network, said Cindy Plummer, vice president of domestic marketing for the Fresno-based marketing order.
The commission also plans a satellite media tour with Taco Bell chef Lorena Garcia, holiday-themed point-of-sale material for several foreign markets, a new video promotion for Canadian markets, a blogger lunch in New York and a recipe makeover challenge.
As part of a back-to-school campaign, the commission and Garcia will target Spanish-speaking television and radio stations and bloggers to promote the versatility of grapes, whether at breakfast, lunch, after-school snacks or dinner, said Jeff Cardinale, vice president of communications.
Tying into this will be a luncheon in New York City where about 20 Hispanic bloggers will be able to interview a popular restaurant owner and chef who will create a grape-themed meal.
The social media effort targets two important markets: social media users and Hispanics, he said.
In late summer, the commission wrapped up work on short videos that will be posts to its website, www.grapesfromcalifornia.com, and feature five dietitians.
Each video highlights three recipes and will also include tips for a more healthful lifestyle.
“The goal with these videos is to provide consumers with new recipes, ideas and inspirations, once again showing the versatility of grapes using the commission’s main tagline for the year, ‘The one ingredient that can change everything,’” he said.
The commission also will work with dietician bloggers in September for an online Recipe Redux contest. Bloggers will be challenged to post their favorite recipes that follow the theme “Fall in Love with Grapes.”
Exports are a key component of the commission’s overall marketing program, and they reached an all-time high in 2012 of about 41.5 million 19-pound box equivalents, according to figures from the commission.
The top five markets were Canada, China/Hong Kong, Mexico, Indonesia and the Philippines.
In addition, Australia, Malaysia, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and Taiwan saw significant growth in 2012 compared with 2011, said Susan Day, vice president of international marketing.
“With in-country representatives actively marketing in 25 countries, the California Table Grape Commission’s international program focus is to work with retail chains to display and promote grapes from California,” she said. Colombia was added this year.
Among those activities are grape display contests and in-store sampling and chef events designed to motivate consumers to buy more California grapes, Day said.
This year, the commission has developed special point-of-sale material for the Mid-Autumn Festival, which begins Sept. 19, in China, Hong Kong, Vietnam and Taiwan. The commission also has developed material aimed at the Diwali, or festival of lights, in India that begins Nov. 3.
In addition, the commission produced a video and audio shoot with News Canada, a media distribution company, Day said.
The short video will be distributed to website and video content providers throughout the country, marking the first time the commission has partnered with News Canada on a video.
A similar radio spot, recorded in English and French, also will be distributed.
Canada is the top export destination for California table grapes, importing more than 11.1 million boxes in 2012.