Fresh grapes
Fresh grapes from California, ready to be eaten. The California Table Grape Commission is embarking on a promotional campaign highlighting the health benefits of fresh grapes.

Table grape group touts health benefits of its fresh fruit

The California Table Grape Commission is embarking on a promotional campaign highlighting the health benefits of fresh grapes.

The California Table Grape Commission is embarking on an advertising campaign to tout the potential health benefits from fresh grapes as it seeks to bolster domestic demand amid lingering U.S. trade disputes.

The commodity group is running TV, radio, magazine, and newspaper ads highlighting how consuming normal amounts of grapes each day may contribute to long-term health by helping to maintain a healthy heart, brain, and colon.

The campaign will revolve around a series of ads focusing on the “power” of the whole fruit, with more than 1,600 documented natural plant compounds, including antioxidants and other polyphenols. Each ad highlights a scientific study in the areas of heart, brain, and colon health.

“The commission has been doing research into the health benefits of grapes for a long time ± about 20 years,” says Kathleen Nave, commission president. “There is a lot of emerging research for which we are at a point that we can share, so we’re launching this new campaign to let everyone know of the links between grapes and a healthy heart, brain, and colon.”

GRAPES, SCIENCE, HEALTH

The campaign follows last year’s release of a book titled Grapes and Health: A Monograph, which reviews the science linking fresh grape consumption to better health. Designed for health and science professionals, it includes individual chapters written by subject experts who examine the state of research in such areas as heart health, inflammation, cancer, brain health, gastrointestinal health, joint health, bladder function, and eye health.

In recent years, human studies with California grapes have suggested that eating 1½ to 3 servings of fresh grapes a day could bring various benefits. For instance, when it comes to heart health, grape polyphenols aid metabolic activities that counter oxidative stress, inflammation, and platelet aggregation — all of which contribute to atherosclerosis. Further, grape consumption could contribute to healthy, flexible blood vessels through nitric oxide production, which helps support healthy blood flow and pressure, the panel asserts.

Meanwhile, in two small human colon cancer studies, grape consumption inhibited target genes responsible for feeding cancer growth, and protected the healthy colon tissue. And another study, publicized last year, found consuming grapes twice a day for six months protected against significant metabolic decline in Alzheimer-related areas of the brain in people with early memory decline.

CONSUMERS LOVE GRAPES

Nave notes that consumers “have always loved grapes for their great taste, convenience, share-ability, and beauty,” but now they’ll learn of their contributions to health, too. “We have other ads running” that promote grapes in a general way, she says. “This is a separate campaign that focuses only on health.”

The print ads will run in the Food Network magazine, which Nave says is popular with primary shoppers in families. “It’s a place where people are looking for information” including “new usage ideas and new recipe ideas,” she says. “We have lots of recipes.”

The commission has used the Food Network for several promotion campaigns, including a pair of commercials in 2015 that introduced growers to viewers. The network appeals to people interested in using food in new ways, and also attracts many viewers interested in healthy eating, Nave says.

TRADE UNCERTAINTY

The campaign comes as domestic promotion has taken on an added importance amid continued trade uncertainty, most notably involving China. American grapes now face a 53 percent tariff upon entering the Asian nation, which ranks third in terms of volume of California grape shipments behind Canada and Mexico, Nave says.

“We are still shipping, and we will be shipping through January, so the extent of the impact is not yet known,” she says. However, she has heard reports that shipments to China have been reduced significantly. In all, between 35 percent and 40 percent of California’s fresh grapes are exported on an annual basis.

The industry received some apparent good news this month as the U.S., Canada, and Mexico negotiated a replacement for the 24-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement, which leaders are expected to sign by late November. But the disruption of trade with China has been a “hard-enough hit,” Nave says. “There are a lot of bilateral trade agreements between our competitors. If we are not part of those … we’re at a disadvantage.”

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