California table grape industry lunges forward

03/18/2011 09:40:28 AM

I now pick up a recent edition of The Packer and read the headline “Table grape season in California nears 100 million cartons” (Page B3, March 14 issue).

And then I am told the per capita consumption of table grapes is 8 pounds per person. And to top that off I read that table grapes are the No. 3 item in fruit consumption in the U.S. and we export some 37 million cartons — 38% of the volume — to more than 60 countries throughout the world.

What an impressive record.

During the 1990s the commission asked the University of California-Davis Economic Department to analyze the expenditures of the industry in commodity promotion to determine the return on investment.

Their study revealed the return on investment through the California Table Grape Commission promotion activities returned $150 per $1 invested.

What an incredible success story for California producers of fresh grapes. And what a success story that is for the old economic theory that “the rising tide raises all boats.”

In my reflection back a number of years, the California table grape industry has struggled through a combination of marketing and political difficulties. But they have survived and maintained their focus on the future.

And they have at their helm a most competent and professional leader in Kathleen Nave.

For the industry to survive all their challenges, bring their production to five times greater than a starting position and at dollar returns that keep them in production and expansion, they have made the right decisions over the past 43 years.

I am most proud to have been part of this industry in my career, and most proud to have been part of my father-in-law’s industry.

The California Table Grape industry has a great future and they are fortunate to have Kathleen Nave helping them through all the difficulties that will certainly find their way into the system as time moves forward.

Bruce Obbink is former president of the California Table Grape Commission, Fresno.

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