Surge in demand for Candy Hearts table grapes

From Fresh Plaza | 15 March 2023

Overview of table grape from Chile and Mexico in the U.S. market, complemented by charts from Agronometrics. Original published on March 14, 2023. 

Table grape and cherry breeder sees increased demand from both consumers and growers for the table grape varietal Candy Hearts™. These red grapes, known and beloved for their sweet tropical flavor and floral aroma, are quickly becoming one of IFG’s most popular varietals.

Today, Candy Hearts™ grapes are mainly harvested from Chile and available in stores during March and April. Candy Hearts grapes that are harvested in the U.S. and Mexico will be available in store starting in May 2023 and throughout the summer. “Consumers may notice Candy Hearts grapes vary in color intensity depending on the region where they were grown, but they always have a uniquely delicious flavor, incomparable to any other grape variety,” a company release states.

grape volumes by origin 5

Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics.
(Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here)

Combining different flavors

“If you take a look at the whole wide world of grapes, there is a gigantic amount of diversity out there that most consumers have never tasted – amazing flavors that exist in natural grapes,” said Dr. Chris Owens, lead breeder at IFG.  “At IFG we have been trying to bring these flavors forward into a high-quality seedless table grape. Candy Hearts grapes are unique in that they combine different flavors from different sources including some Old World muscat floral aromas mixed with some New World tropical fruit aromas.”

Candy Hearts grapes were naturally bred over a decade ago when IFG founder, Dr. David Cain, crossed Vitis vinifera species with a North American grape species, resulting in fruits with exotic flavors and essences. Once Candy Hearts grapes entered retail channels in 2017, they received overwhelming international consumer acclaim.

Red version of Cotton Candy

“Our consumers are reaching out to us more consistently about Candy Hearts, at times in desperation to find a location to purchase what they define as their favorite grape variety,” says Elena Aguaron, Commercial Manager for the Americas at IFG. “Retailers are keen to carry them in their produce sections as well. These grapes sell fast because they appeal to many – they have the right amount of sweetness that both adults and children can appreciate. This variety is generating a similar revolution in consumers as the Cotton Candy™ grape did a few years ago, but now in a red grape.”

In the past few months, consumers have been posting on social media, extolling the grapes:

– “I don’t know what magic y’all have managed to whip up, but can I say, I cannot get enough of these grapes. Seriously. Two packages in less than a week!” – Customer – Vanessa Hosbach

– “I think I found another favorite fruit of mine already! Smells like gummy grape flavor – also sweet like candy.” – Customer post on Instagram

Aguaron says the grapes are a perfect snack on their own but also delicious in salads and appetizers. Currently Candy Hearts grapes are available at major retailers including Sam’s Club, Aldi, Costco, Publix, Whole Foods, and Sprouts.

The News in Charts is a collection of stories from the industry complemented by charts from Agronometrics to help better tell their story.

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