The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets today announced that it will participate in the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago this weekend, May 19 to 22, to promote New York agriculture and market the state’s Concord grape industry. The Association’s Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show is the largest foodservice marketplace in the country. It allows small and medium-sized companies the opportunity to make connections critical to expanding their business and enter new export markets. The show draws more than 2,100 exhibiting companies and 60,000 attendees from around the world.
State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “New York State is committed to helping grow its Concord grape industry. We had a tremendously successful summit two months ago with an enthusiastic group of industry partners, growers, researchers and businesses that came to the table with thoughtful and innovative ideas to boost the industry. We are happy to be able to put into motion the first of several plans that will reenergize this important sector of our agricultural economy.”
The Department, in partnership with the New York Wine & Grape Foundation, will be exhibiting in the American Food Fair Pavilion section of the trade show to promote the state’s Concord grape growers and wineries. The American Food Fair is comprised of U.S. food and beverage companies that are looking to break into the export market or expand their global reach. The four-day event offers networking opportunities and business-to-business contacts for those interested in direct sales or forming relationships with suppliers and distributors.
New York’s participation in the trade show delivers on its promise made at this year’s Concord Grape Summit held in Chautauqua County to increase industry export opportunities, and have the Concord grape and wine industry recognized as a world leader in quality and productivity. Products featured at the Department’s booth will include wine from Johnston Estate Winery, 21 Brix Winery, Coyote Moon Vineyards, Lakewood Vineyards, Liberty Vineyards and Winery, and Manischewitz. Buyers and attendees will also be able to sample New York State-made grape juice from Grower’s Cooperative, Welch’s, and Kirkland.
Sam Filler, Executive Director of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation, said, “The New York Wine & Grape Foundation is dedicated to ensuring that the Concord grape industry remains a significant agricultural product in New York. We are excited to join the Department of Agriculture and Markets at the National Restaurant Association’s trade show in Chicago and introduce New York’s Concord grapes to an international audience of consumers and buyers. The show, with more than 60,000 attendees, has the potential to bring new business to our growers and processors.”
Steve Cockram, General Manager, Growers Co-op Grape Juice Co., said, “The Concord grape is native to North America. While we expect grape juice to taste like Concord, there are people all over the world who have never experienced Concord flavor. Growers Co-op and the entire Concord industry thanks NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets for helping give Concord more global exposure. These international tastings will help NYS farmers to continue to profitably grow their Concord grapes.”
In April of this year, the Governor convened the first-ever New York State Concord Grape Summit to revitalize and expand the state's concord grape industry. Farmers, researchers, and industry leaders met with state officials to discuss industry growth challenges and explore new opportunities for New York’s Concord grape growers. During the summit, several initiatives were announced to help strengthen the industry, including expanding research, investing in new product and new market development, and expanding marketing and promotional programs, such as increased representation at domestic and international trade shows to encourage increased growth in this sector.
About New York’s Concord Grape Industry
New York is the nation's second largest Concord grape producer, and the Lake Erie Concord Belt is the oldest and largest Concord grape growing region in the world. About 30,000 acres of grape vineyards are located along the belt with the majority, more than 18,000 acres, growing in New York State. The Concord variety is used in the production of many value-added products, including grape juice, jellies and marmalades, and wine.
New York's Concord Grape industry has a significant impact on the state economy and beyond. A study conducted by the Lake Erie Concord Grape Belt Heritage Association, with assistance from Cornell University and Pennsylvania State University, estimated that each year, growers in the Concord Grape Belt produce 150,000 tons or more of Concord grapes on 30,000 acres of vineyards. Dozens of value-added products are processed locally and sold across the United States and exported around the world. Overall, grape-related production activities like growing, processing and winemaking support nearly 2,000 jobs and contribute $340 million in total economic impact.
In recent years, New York's Concord grape growers have experienced challenges due to a combination of changing consumer preferences for juice products and oversupply of product that has reduced grape prices. Juice and jelly production businesses are also being impacted, with many closing or reducing production as a result. The Concord Grape Summit, first announced in the Governor's 2018-19 State of the State address, brought together agriculture, research and business leaders to discuss new developments and strategies to reinvigorate New York's Concord grape industry and boost the state's agricultural economy.