California table grape growers exported 34 million 19-pound boxes of table grapes valued at $567.9 million from May through December 2009, according to the Fresno-based California Table Grape Commission.

That compares with 26.6 million boxes in 2008 with a value of $430.4 million.

Canada was the No. 1 export destination, followed by China, Australia, Indonesia and Mexico.

To help growers sell their grapes abroad, the commission conducts promotional programs in several markets, including Canada, Australia, Central America, China, India, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, the Philippines, Russia, South Korea, Southeast Asia, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom and Ireland, said vice president Jim Howard.

These markets comprise 93% of all exports, and many continue to grow in terms of California grape exports.

“These markets are still our key targets moving forward,” he added.

The commission has found focusing on retailers to be the most effective way to boost sales in export markets.

“Around the world, we’ve found that the retailers are the key to moving the crop each year and increasing export volumes,” he said.

That’s why the commission targets the retail chains, small retail stores and wet markets, depending on the specific export market, he said.

“In the U.K., we only work with the major retail chains, but in Vietnam we’re working a lot with the wet markets, as they’re a major outlet for California grapes,” Howard said.