A GRAPE PHENOMENON
Cotton candy grapes caused a nationwide phenomenon on social media the past month as consumers became obsessed with the little pops of sugary sweetness.
Originally from the United States, the new grape variety appeals amongst those with a sweet tooth or those seeking for a healthier alternative to candy.
Fruit supplier Paul Giofrelle explained that people could easily distinguish cotton candy grapes from other grapes.
“The taste alone is different. You can tell it straight up it’s different to normal grapes and it’s one of a kind.”
Cotton candy grapes are not genetically or artificially modified.
Instead, according to an article on The Salt, they are results of crossed plant breeding by horticulturalist David Cain and his team.
University student Isabelle Baker described eating it as an enjoyable experience with its softer texture.
“That is interesting, you definitely get the taste of spun sugar,” she said.
“The normal one is still a bit hard, but I like these. These are really fun.”
Assistant produce manager from Woolworths QV, Karl Salis is a huge fan of the new variety grape.
“They’re absolutely beautiful, I’ve gone through probably three kilos this season,” he said.
“I definitely enjoyed them.”
Despite its arising demand and popularity, that wasn’t always the case. When cotton candy grapes were first introduced in 2015 into Woolworths, Mr. Salis explained it was tough getting them off the shelves.
“When we first started getting it we couldn’t really move them. People asked: ‘What’s this new variety grape?’ like ‘What do we do with this?’,” he said.
“But I feel like as more people tried it and actually experienced it they actually enjoy the flavour.”
Mr. Salis says at least 20 cartons a day of cotton candy grapes were sold this year in his store after an effective marketing campaign and positive public reactions received through social media.
“We’d have a box closed and people actually open it up and take them out,” he said.
“They’re a really popular variety.”
Coles supermarket also experienced high demand. It said: “Cotton candy grapes proved to be really popular with our customers, particularly those with a sweet tooth.”
TRIAL AND ERROR
Giofrelle Happy Valley Fruits has only started supplying cotton candy grapes to Coles despite bringing in the American-bred grape into Australia five years ago.
Mr. Giofrelle described the process as a long experiment with their production determined by consumer demand.
“There’s limited acres so there’s limited vines in the grape yard and that makes a short window for any trial and error,” he said.
“If people like it we plant more if not we just leave the way it is.”
“HAPPY WITH NORMAL GRAPES”
University students were generally intrigued by the concept of cotton candy grapes, however most of them preferred having normal grapes instead.
Bridget Phillips enjoyed the bursts of flavour. “It’s really subtle and nice, I would definitely like to have cotton candy grapes but maybe not as a regular grape.”
Crystal was happy with just having regular grapes because of its natural taste.
“This one (cotton candy grapes) feels a little bit artificial,” she said.
The cotton candy grape lasts for a short season, which is not uncommon amongst table grapes.
However, Mr. Salis explained that cotton candy grapes are restricted to being a singular variety because it is produced as a monoculture crop.
“Red grapes, in a season we get like maybe five different varieties but with cotton candy grapes we only get one variety,” he said.
“So it’s a very short window when you can actually pick it when it’s ripe.”
According to Coles’ statement, the cotton candy grapes season typically runs from “mid-February to mid-April”.
Stores by now have run out or are running low of stock in the grapes.
The good news is, both suppliers and distributors are eager to bring back cotton candy grapes next year due to its popularity.