Global Table Grape Production
According to the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV), 7.3 million hectares of grapes were grown in 2022, producing 80.1 million tonnes. This figure includes both table grapes and wine grapes, as well as grapes used for other purposes such as grape juice, raisins, and grape seed oil. Unpressed grapes (including fresh table grapes and dried grapes) accounted for 37.2 million tonnes globally, the vast majority (31.5 million tonnes) being sold as fresh table grapes. The total global area under vines was down slightly in 2022 (-0.4%), which contributed to a decline in world production of grapes by 3% between 2021 and 2022.
The top six grape producers in the world; Spain, France, China (mainland), Italy, Turkey, and the USA produce more than half of the worlds grapes.
Table grape production increased between 2021 and 2022 by 3.2% globally, in line with a trend of increasing global production that started in 2000, and which has lead to a doubling of table grape production in two decades.
The total grape production of the top 5 producing countries in 2022; China, India, Turkey, Egypt, and Iran, represented 64% of the global grape total. 21% of table grapes globally are produced by countries other than those listed below. China, Turkey, and India are also top three table grape consuming countries— combined, these three markets consumed 56% of the global supply of table grapes in 2022.
Production (Million tons, 2022)
Percentage of total global crop production (2021)
For an additional resource, here is a global heat map of production quantities of grapes by country. NOTE: This is a visualization of ALL grapes, not just table grapes:
According to the USDA, total global table grape production was up 7% from 2022-2023.
Domestic Table Grape Production
According to the California Table Grape Commission, in 2022, California table grape growers, who grow 99% of all US table grapes, harvested 95.1 million boxes of grapes for domestic consumption (70%) and export markets (30%). The California Department of Food and Agriculture estimates that there were 128,000 acres of bearing and non-bearing table grape vineyards in the state in 2021, down 3% from 2020, representing 330 unique farms.
Table grape production generated $668 million in cash receipts in 2021, down 8.7% from 2020. The average price of a ton of table grapes in California in 2021 was $182.92 up 14.5% from 2020.
“The US [table grape] market has seen slight but steady growth in recent years. In the 2019 season, it grew more than 12%, reaching 3.3 billion pounds. In the latter part of 2020 it declined 4.7%, falling to 2.9 billion pounds, partly as a result of the pandemic and consumption declines due to the lockdown, seen in April and May. Despite a strong recovery in June, it contracted again in July. In the 2020-2021 season the decline continued in autumn. However, beginning in December 2020 each week saw robust growth for the remainder of the season, reaching 3.2 billion pounds of fruit, a growth of more than 13%. In the 2021-2022 season it continued to grow, reaching 3.53 billion pounds, more than 7% higher than the previous season.” —International Fresh Produce Association, U.S. Grape Market Report: 2021-2022
The California Table Grape Commission's annual crop report for 2020 indicates that the San Joaquin Valley produced 1,020,225 tons of table grapes, representing approximately 94% of California's total table grape production. The remaining 6% came from the Coachella Valley, which produced 67,000 tons of table grapes that year. Arizona, Texas, and Florida are also home to some sparse and occasional grape production.
Growing Regions: USA
Production (bearing and non-bearing) (source)
Percentage of Total Crop Production in CA (2020)
San Joaquin Valley
Fresno, Kern, Tulare, and Madera
Riverside and Imperial counties
128,000 total (118,000 bearings, 10,000 non-bearing)
2,085,000 lbs (source)
(Based on industry estimates and historical data, it's estimated that California produces between 100 and 120 million boxes of table grapes each year, with each box weighing about 19-22 pounds. This means that California's total annual table grape production ranges from approximately 1.9 to 2.6 billion pounds (or 0.9 to 1.2 million tons).)
*Note that there is a disparity in the USDA data and the FAO data. This is a trend in specialty crop data reporting in general. As with all data, there’s an acceptable error range here that should be considered when manipulating these figures to calculate addressable market projections.
Though the exact number and mix of table grape varieties grown in the US changes from year to year, there are about approximately 79 table grape varietals that are commonly planted commercially (an increase from 39 in 2000). Flame Seedless was the leading table-type grape variety. The three broad categories of table grape varieties are white, red, and black, and though black varieties are a distant third in terms of popularity with consumers, their appeal seems to be increasing.
Top Varietals in California
Flame Seedless: an early-season, red, seedless table grape that produces medium-sized, round berries. Clusters are conical in shape, medium in size and ripen in early July. This variety is vigorous and not very susceptible to root rot, and has long shoots and a horizontal bearing that require significant trellising. This variety tends to mature relatively early and is usually pruned long, meaning relatively more of the plant is left behind (rather than removed) during the pruning process.
Growers tended 12,674 acres of Flame Seedless grapes in California in 2022. The average price per ton paid for the 1,705 tons of Flame Seedless grapes sold in California in 2021 was $185.39, which was the highest average price paid for any table grape variety in California in that year.
Thompson Seedless: the most widely planted grape in California, is a medium-sized, cylindrical-shaped, white grape that ripens in early to mid-August (in the San Joaquin Valley). The plant produces heavily shouldered clusters that ripen in early to mid-August in the San Joaquin Valley. This variety is most commonly used to make raisins (accounting for about 70% of total acres), though about 15% of total acres is dedicated to table grape production.
Growers tended 113,004 acres of Thompson Seedless grapes in California in 2020 for all uses, including table grapes, raisins, and juicing. The average price per ton paid for the 106,159 tons of Thompson Seedless grapes sold in California in 2021 was $291.93, up 16% over 2020 levels.
Scarlet Royal: a mid-season, red, seedless table grape, this cultivar produces large, conical-shaped clusters and is relatively vigorous. These grapes are ready for harvest in mid-to-late August, filling the harvest window between Flame Seedless and Crimson Seedless. Quadrilateral cordon training and spur pruning are suggested. Scarlet Royal berries are susceptible to quality issues if the fruit remains too long on the vine and becomes overripe— therefore a timely harvest is paramount.
Autumn King: a late-season, seedless, white, oval-shaped grape that tends to be larger than Thompson Seedless. This cultivar produces medium-sized, conical to cylindrical-shaped clusters. Autumn King ripens mid-September to late October, or about eight weeks after Thompson Seedless.
Autumn King is a vigorous variety and should be head-trained and cane-pruned. Depending on vine vigor and trellis system, 5-8 canes that are 12 to 15 buds long are retained at pruning.
Sugraone: an early-season, white seedless grape with large berries and a slight muscat flavor.
For the complete list of varieties and production in California and by subregion, see USDA’s Grape Acreage Report 2021 (pp. 11).
Based on the Knowledge Sourcing Intelligence Report, the global table grape market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 7.67% (2022-2027), meaning the global market which was valued at US$62.674 billion in 2020 will reach a total market size of US$104.811 billion in 2027. Increased demand is due to growing awareness of the benefits of consuming fruits especially in critical, high-demand markets like China, India, and Turkey, and technological advancements, such as innovations for better storage, control of decay, and water loss of grapes.
According to a report by Mordor Intelligence, the global table grape market size was valued at approximately USD 18.1 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach USD 24.7 billion by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 5.2% during the forecast period (2021-2026). Knowledge Sourcing Intelligence estimates the global market for table grapes at $67 billion in 2022.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the total (sales) value of table grape production in the United States in 2020 was $1.46 billion. The total value of exported US table grapes in 2020 was $731 million.
The true addressable market for table grape harvest and management automation technologies will be approximately equal to the cost of harvest labor performed to manage and harvest table grapes. To accurately determine the value of a specific technology to the table grape sector, it’s necessary to understand table grape crop budgets.
Current Challenges and Key Opportunities
Grower Challenges: Production
Successful table grape growers manage a complex production system that takes careful and continuous management over a variety of shifting plant life stages. From the beginning of the vineyard planning process until the first harvest can be anywhere from 3-5 years, and remain productive for approximately 22 years. Managing production and cash flow over that time horizon is often a challenge.
- Table grape vineyards tend to be established on fairly level ground, but may be additionally laser-leveled before planting.
- Before plants arrive, the ground must be chiseled to a depth of 4’-5’ and a pre-plant herbicide should be applied. Fumigation may be necessary if nematodes are present.
- In Spring, the vineyard is laid out and marked, followed by planting vines and placing protective, cardboard cartons around the starts. Vines should be spaces 6’ apart, and 12’ should exist between rows (resulting in 605 vines/acre). Vines that fail to survive can be replanted in the second year.
- Plants are dormant, bench-grafted rootstock. Example prices:
- Flame seedless vines: $3.25/vine, $1,966/acre
- Ivory vines: $7.25/vine or $4,386/acre
- Scarlet Royal vines: $3.25/vine (+ $1/vine royalty to variety owner)
- Autumn King vines: $3.25/vine (+ $1/vine royalty to variety owner)
- After the first year of establishment, a grower will install a trellis system and begin training vines in anticipation of the first yield in the third year after planting.
- Before the second season, a commercial company installs the trellis system, which will be used throughout the life of the vineyard. There are varying styles and systems of trellis systems better suited for different varieties of table grapes and vineyard setups. The most common in California table grapes include:
- Vertical shoot positioning is one of the most common trellis systems. Key features include grapevines trained to grow upright, with cordons (one or two) growing horizontally along a wire. This system provides good air circulation, and sunlight exposure and is relatively easy to manage.
- California sprawl is a trellis system more common for vigorous varieties, like Thompson Seedless. The grapevines are trained to sprawl horizontally, with canes fanned on a low wire (or the ground). This provides good access to the fruiting zone.
- Geneva Double Curtain (GDC) is an increasingly common trellis system for high-yielding varieties like Flame Seedless and Crimson Seedless. Vines are trained along a two-tiered cordon system with vertically divided canopies that are supported by multiple wires. This system is known for promoting good yields and solid fruit quality.
- Other trellis systems include the Open Gable or V-trellis system, which utilizes a V-shaped structure formed by two wires to support vines, and the Modified Lyre, which involves training vines to form a “Y” shape with horizontal canes supported by wires.
- Five training passes are usually made during the spring and summer of the second year. This process involves tying a single shoot to the stake (to begin forming the permanent structure of the vine), removing lateral shoots from the base of the vine, and tipping the shoot when it reaches the top of the stake. This usually marks the first significant labor outlay for the grower.
- Trellis often require regular repairs, and the cost of repairs tends to increase over the life of the vineyard. Weak or missing vines also must be replaced.
- Even more than harvest, pruning is often the most intensive and recurring labor-heavy task in a table grape vineyard— often requiring relative skill and multiple passes through each row to do varying tasks during different times of the year.
- Pruning is a valuable activity because it contributes to new growth for plants and helps prevent the spread of disease.
- Vines are first pruned during the first dormant season (December to February), according to the preference of the grower or the optimal style for the variety.
- Vines are spur-pruned during the winter months.
- Suckers, sterile shoots, and basal leaves are removed from the vine trunks and crowns in late spring, a practice that continues each year after which shoot positioning takes place.
- Finally, this process is followed by hedging, an equipment-assisted process.
- Pruning waste is placed between rows.
- Water cost and usage will vary from grower to grower in key table grape areas in California, depending on the quantity used, power cost, well characteristics, and other factors. Water cost is expected to rise in the San Joaquin Valley in the coming years.
- Table grape vineyards are irrigated (usually via drip irrigation) during the growing season, in California from April through October during established years. The amount of applied irrigation water varies depending on rainfall and other factors.
- Common vineyard drip systems require chemical flushing to prevent chemical buildup.
- If levels of sodium, chloride, or boron in vineyard soils are high, they must be leached from the soil, typically through in-season application of a leaching fraction or through dormant season watering.
- Irrigation levels are reduced after harvest to control vine growth and promote cane maturity. In some years, water may be required in the late winter/early spring to protect against frost.
- Running, monitoring, and maintaining the irrigation system on a vineyard usually requires some amount of labor outlay.
- In late Spring, gibberellic acid (GA), a plant growth regulator, is applied in two different applications during bloom to increase berry size.
- Cluster tipping and hand thinning are done in late May to early June to loosen clusters and adjust cluster length and crop load. Vines are often girdled to increase berry size in early summer.
Table grapes are hand-harvested and field packed, and each field is usually picked 2-3 times, mainly due to the fact that table grapes ripen non-uniformly, meaning harvest on one farm with multiple varieties can last several months. Harvesting crews work in teams of 3 or 4, with each harvester picking 3-4 19-pound boxes per hour (depending on factors including fruit quality).
- Harvest workers #1 and #2 cut bunches of grapes (picker/packer pair) and put them in plastic tubs
- Harvest worker #3 and #4 uses a wheelbarrow to transport the full tubs to a packer at the end of the row
- Some harvesting crews use teams of two people, with both workers beginning the day picking and, after six to eight loads of grapes are picked, one worker begins to pack while the other continues to pick.
- Packers trim bunches on portable tables and place them into the bags or clamshells in which grapes are sold
- Packages are then cooled in packing houses before shipping and can be held in cold storage for at least two months.
- Most table grapes are picked and packed in the field. Some table grapes go to packing houses for this step, especially those that are packed into clamshells. Pickers cut bunches of grapes and place them into picking boxes, which are taken to the packing house to be packed or to cold storage for packing at a later date.
Table Grape Harvest Timing
May - June
July - August
September - November
In California, the table grape harvest season ordinarily runs from May to November (starts in Cochella and ends in the San Joaquin Valley)
- The overall size and scale of the farming operation, and what other crops/varieties the farmer grows.
- Whether the land is owned or managed by the grower.
- Infrastructure availability (road access, irrigation systems, building locations, etc.)
Grower Challenges: Economics
Common Table Grape Business Model
Table Grape growers sell grapes to wholesalers, retailers, and other buyers. The success of the business will depend on the yields achieved, the quality of produce, the price, and the distribution networks they are able to access. Additionally, table grape growers must consider other costs such as labor, fertilizer, and pest management, land costs (including land rent if leasing), as well as the potential for unexpected weather or market conditions.
Growers sell table grapes in the US in 19-pound* boxes, which contain approximately 8 individual bags or clamshells of grapes.
There are a few different channels that growers commonly use to deliver grapes to market. The most common is to contract the sale of table grapes, with a price per unit and total quantity determined in advance of harvest. These contracts may be with wholesale produce packers, shippers, or directly with retailers (especially in the case of larger farmers, packing and shipping functions may be carried out by the grower). Alternatively, table grape growers can take (most commonly, excess) table grapes to a terminal market, where they are sold based on a shifting and localized market price in bulk. Finally, table grapes can be sold directly to consumers through on-farm sales, U-pick operations, or farm stands, though a very small amount of the total US table grape crop is moved in this fashion.
The business model for table grape production requires a significant upfront investment that must be earned back over the course of a vineyard’s productive life. Though vines will start producing fruit as early as the second or third year, they often don’t come into their productive prime until their fifth or even seventh year. As the vineyard ages, yield and quality generally decline, and there is an expectation that approximately 1% of plants will need to be replaced annually. After approximately 20-30 years, the vineyard will usually reach the end of its life.
The yield of the average acre of table grape vines can vary significantly based on a number of factors, but for commercial varieties, an expectation of yield between 1,200 and 2,200 boxes per acre is reasonable. Many factors also determine the current price per unit of table grapes, and thus predicting net revenue, or determining in which year the vineyard overall might become profitable, is not possible to generalize.
The price that a table grape producer receives is dependent upon variety, timing, and other market factors. Specific quality standards vary by geography and purchaser.
*Note: Some USDA reports site table grape boxes as 18-pounds, some as 19-pounds. Our experience talking with growers has mostly featured 19-pound boxes, so we used that figure.
Table Grape Crop Budget
We highly recommend that you read two or more crop budgets before having a conversation with a table grape farmer to better understand their needs and costs.
Understand that farm economics and budgets vary widely between individual farm operations, and annually as a result of a landscape of factors, from water availability to input costs.
Table Grape Costs
Though there are many fairly standard expenses on a table grape farm, the magnitude of related costs varies widely based on geography, varieties grown, weather, and many other factors.
- Capital costs include:
- Land (rent or purchase)
- Property alterations (like laser-leveling prior to vineyard construction)
- Irrigation systems (including installation)
- Initial vine plantings
- Production and harvest equipment, facilities, and vehicles
- Variable costs include:
- Water (generally calculated per acre-inch)
- Replacement vines
- Energy and fuel costs
- Equipment/facilities maintenance
- Inputs (including fertilizer, pesticides, and other crop protection, etc.)
- Auditing, compliance, and inspections (often charged either per box/pound or per acre)
- Property taxes
- Labor costs:
- Labor is by far the largest recurring expense on a table grape operation. Workers are necessary to take care of annual pruning and harvesting, and for best results, relatively skilled labor is best.
- In California, the minimum wage for agricultural workers is $15.50 an hour, with additional requirements around overtime and days off. USDA estimates that a representative average of 688 labor hours are required per acre (a combination of pre-season pruning/maintenance and harvest), meaning a table grape farmer can expect to spend at least $10,660/acre on labor costs annually.
- “Based on these estimates, California’s 121,000 acres of table-type grapes required a total of 83 million hours of hand labor in 2019, which is equivalent to 83,000 workers who average 1,000 hours each.”
- Most table grape operations also require some professional labor, including farm manager employees, but also contractors like pest control or crop protection advisors, accountants, and others.
Outside Pressures on Table Grape Businesses