Why Are Grapes So Expensive? Here Are 6 Reasons

November 18, 2021
why are grapes so expensive

Grapes are a delicious addition to the family fruit bowl, but if you’ve been paying attention to your grocery bill lately, you may well be asking yourself, ‘why are grapes so expensive?’. 

Whether you regularly pick up a bunch to add a little goodness to lunchboxes, use them as an adornment on a sophisticated cheeseboard, or you just like snacking on them throughout the day, there’s no escaping the fact that they can be one of the more pricier fruit varieties. 

This is especially true at certain times of the year, so you may have noticed this seasonality at play. 

As a savvy shopper, it’s wise to know the reasons why. Let’s take a look at six different reasons why grapes are so expensive, plus some extra useful information to help you to make your food budget go further… 

1. Only the very best crops are sold as table grapes 

As you’re likely already aware, a proportion of the world’s grape supply is used to make raisins. As they’re being dried anyway, it isn’t particularly important that grapes used to produce raisins are the fattest, juiciest, or most visually appealing of the bunch. 

This means that when it comes to quality control, and deciding which grapes will be used for what, it’s the highest quality crops that are chosen to make their way to our fruit bowls. 

The process of ensuring the best grapes are kept for being sold as fresh fruit is quite an extensive one. Farmers go to great lengths to create plump and juicy crops, including spraying them with hormones. 

The fact that the highest quality grapes are selected, coupled with the lengths that are often gone to in order to ensure the fruit ticks all the right boxes, is a reason why grapes are expensive. 

This also answers the question of why raisins are so cheap compared to grapes! 

2. Markups on fruit tend to be very high

Fresh foods have amongst the very highest markups in a supermarket, for a variety of different reasons. So whilst other items may create less profits for the retailers, fruit such as grapes has more leeway built into the pricing model that in turn boosts the price for the consumer. 

There’s a range of issues at play here, but a key one to consider is that the shelf life of fruit is very short, and as such, a relatively high level of wastage is often considered inevitable.

If a store knows that they’re going to be throwing away a certain percentage of a product line, there needs to be enough profit margin built into the pricing to make it worth their while. 

3. Grapes are a seasonal crop 

Grapes are seasonal, which means that they aren’t typically grown in one area all year round. This is because growing them requires very specific conditions. 

When grapes are in season where you live, you’ll find that the fruit you can buy from the supermarket tends to be sweet, juicy, and bursting with flavour. 

At other times of the year, there are a few options for retailers to choose from.

They can ship in their grapes from other locations, and in this instance, the price of shipping has to be passed on to the shopper. 

Alternatively, they can find a supplier of grapes that are grown in artificial conditions. The extra manual labour required here once again involves a higher cost. 

4. Grapes are easily spoiled and difficult to transport 

As you might imagine, grapes can be seriously tricky to transport from one place to another, especially when you’re looking at bulk quantities!

They’re a very soft fruit that’s easily squashed, and extra care and attention has to be invested into ensuring they reach the supermarket shelves in good condition. 

Of course, efforts have been made by big businesses to overcome this. One such solution is to grow grapes that have thicker skins, but this is often at the sacrifice of the best possible taste. 

Ultimately, if you want grapes that taste naturally delicious and haven’t been damaged in transit, it’s best to buy locally wherever possible. This could also help you to cut your shopping bill, as you won’t be indirectly paying for complicated transportation processes. 

5. Grapes are typically bought by those with low price sensitivity 

Price sensitivity is a term from the field of economics that refers to the degree to which the price of a product affects a consumer’s buying decision. 

Grapes tend to be purchased by those with more disposable income, and therefore they’re less sensitive to price increases and don’t have an issue with paying extra for a quality product. 

Imagine, for example, that you were on a very tight budget. You might decide to swerve the fresh fruit aisle entirely, but if you did decide to grab some produce, your money would go much further if you choose items such as apples or oranges. 

The bottom line here is that people will continue to buy grapes even though they’re relatively more expensive, and so there’s no reason for retailers to strive to lower their prices. 

6. Grape picking can’t be carried out by machinery 

When it comes to the question of why are grapes so expensive, an important contributing factor is that they can’t be picked by machinery.

Due to how they grow and the complex, intricate nature of vines, humans have to be involved in the process of harvesting the fruit. 

The work is manual, labour intensive, and often works being outside in hot conditions. Workers have to be paid, and this cost is reflected once again in the pricing. 

Now that we’ve answered the question of ‘why are grapes so expensive?’, you can see that there are various factors that are contributing towards that higher prices in the fresh fruit aisle, and you can make an informed choice about where you want to spend your money in the supermarket. 

Whilst some families will be happy to pay a premium for grapes, others will prefer to make substitutes.

If it’s a simple case of wanting to have fresh fruit in the kitchen to encourage your loved ones to get their 5-a-day, you’ll find plenty of cheaper choices in the fresh produce aisle. 

But what if you have something else in mind? 

What’s the best substitute for grapes in chicken salad? 

Instead of grapes, you can use raisins or dried cranberries in a salad to add sweetness and texture. Because they don’t have to be bought fresh, they can be kept in the store cupboard until you need them.

Chopped apples and pears are also a great addition, and work particularly well if you’re adding cheese or nuts to your salad. 

 

 

 

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