why are cotton candy grapes so expensive

Why are cotton candy grapes so expensive compared to regular old grapes?

You may notice that there are a bunch (pun intended) of new grape styles and flavors available at the supermarket.

Moon Drop grapes look like mini eggplants, and they’re highly flavorful. Gum Drop grapes are equally juicy and sweet.

Cotton Candy grapes tack onto this list of fictional-sounding fruits, hitting the shelves in 2011.

A combination of labor, a short growing season, and limited production contribute to the cost. We’ll talk about tasty cotton candy grapes and why they have a hefty price tag in this article.

Cotton candy grapes are more expensive than regular grapes due to the science and labor behind them. This fruit has a short growing season and limited availability, but the distributor is working to offer solutions for more people to try out this sweet and memorable grape. 

What Are Cotton Candy Grapes?

what cotton candy grapes

Taking a glance at cotton candy grapes, you would expect them to taste like normal green grapes.

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But, after munching on a few of this new breed of grapes, you’ll realize they taste just like the name implies: cotton candy.

They’re sweet and juicy with a hint of vanilla. The best part is you can enjoy the carnival-like taste without the mess of spun pink sugar.

Why Are Cotton Candy Grapes So Good?

cotton candy grapes so good

Cotton candy grapes have about 12% more sugar than regular grapes and hardly any tartness.

In other words, for every 100 grams of grapes, there are about 18 grams of sugar.

What did you expect from a grape advertising how it tastes like the sugar-sweet, cavity-inducing fluff we used to beg our parents for at the fair?

Originally, people thought cotton candy grapes to be a gimmick, but they became quite popular in their resemblance to cotton candy.

With that in mind, let’s move on to the next section, diving into some background.

A Brief History: How Are Cotton Candy Grapes Made?

David Cain, horticulturist, and creator of cotton candy grapes, aims to give consumers the same array of flavors for grapes that you see with different fruit.

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Cain wants to have cotton candy grapes be more available to the public, giving consumers greater options in their food preferences.

history of cotton candy grapes

Cain manages fruit breeding for the International Fruit Genetics, focusing on creating superior grape varieties.

Additionally, their goal is to create fruit that better handles shipping and storage.

Note: These sweet treats are still considered rare, a designer fruit that only a few have been lucky to try thus far.

Cotton candy grapes are the product of plant breeding, taking different varieties of plants to create a new hybrid.

The cotton candy variety originated from Vitis Vinifera, a common grape you’ll find in America, most often used in wine production.

Cain and company combined Vitis Vinifera with the Concord grape, the one found in jellies.

Note: Cotton candy grapes are non-GMO, created by cross-fertilizing plants and then growing them in individual test tubes before the pros plant the new vines in a field.

An Accidental Success

the accidental success

Cain’s team didn’t originally plan to create a grape that tastes like cotton candy. Growing up in Maine, Cain accessed various grape types with rich arrays of flavors.

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But the majority of them were tart or musky with tough skins.

Maine grapes have their natural sugars and flavors underneath the skin, while the center remains acidic. In short, they aren’t pleasant to eat.

Therefore, Cain prioritized creating a better grape for eating with quality flavors and a spectacular mouthfeel.

Once the food scientists created the hybrid grape, they asked the staff and their children to sample it, who claimed it to resemble cotton candy.

The rest is history. Cain wasn’t sure the general public would like it due to its unusual flavor.

However, after making the grapes available in high-end, specialty supermarkets, he had to expand availability due to how quickly the shelves emptied.

Eventually, cotton candy grapes will have a year-round supply because of their high demand.

Why Are Cotton Candy Grapes So Expensive?

why grapes are expensive

We’ll break down a few reasons why you can expect to dish out a few more bucks if you want to try these unique grapes.

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Short Growing Season

Grapery, a fruit distributor in California, mostly produces cotton candy grapes.

Nonetheless, they are now legally grown in Peru, Brazil, Mexico, South Africa, Australia, Spain, and Italy.

Only certified growers can produce this grape.

Note: Cotton candy grapes have a very short growing season. Word has spread about how delicious they are, so growers ship the grapes to stores all over the country.

According to cotton candy grape enthusiasts, California still has the best taste.

This is probably because the grapes don’t have to travel as far, and they take utmost care in producing the best crops.

Other countries don’t have that signature quality.

Limited Quantities

It’s shocking to see how quickly these grapes go out of stock.

They’re available in limited quantities, and people are eager to get their hands on them.

cotton candy grapes limited quantities

Since demand is so high, the price of fresh produce will also rise. You can find cheap imitations, but they won’t be as good as the real deal.

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Cotton candy grapes are available during early fall, but Cain hopes to have them for sale earlier with each passing year.

Note: Until they’re more widely available, snatch some up to give them a try. You get what you pay for: a scrumptious grape with a mouth-watering texture and taste.

Time, Effort, and Experimentation

Making cotton candy grapes is no easy task. The team has to tediously pluck the pollen-producing parts from the flowers by hand.

Then, they initiate the fruit to grow after combining the male and female parts of the plant.

After that, the grapes sprout in test tubes. The first trial was successful, with about 10,000 plants growing.

But, the entire process can last a decade or more. Since seedless grapes can’t reproduce without help, that’s when the foodie scientists step in.

time and effort

They remove the embryos from the plants, transfer them, and plant them in the field.

The team made about 100,000 varieties before discovering the cotton-candy flavored grape. By 2017, Cain had over 100 acres operating to produce the cotton candy grapes.

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So, that explains why the price is almost twice as much as regular seedless grapes. You pay for the man-hours, research, trials, and expenses with each carton.

Regardless, cotton candy grapes do well in supermarkets, and customers love the flavor change. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are a few related questions and answers regarding cotton candy grapes.

faqs about cotton candy grapes

Are Cotton Candy Grapes Artificially Flavored?

No, cotton candy grapes are not artificially flavored despite the wild sweetness that makes them stand out from other varieties. No other grape tastes like it.

The good news is that no chemicals, sweeteners, artificial flavors, genetic engineering, or extra sugar accomplishes the unique sweetness.

The incredibly sweet taste combines hard work, traditional breeding, and evolution.

What Do Cotton Candy Grapes Taste Like?

Cotton candy grapes are wonderful. Sweet, juicy, and crisp, they’re more appetizing for those who appreciate seedless grapes.

They are undoubtedly the sweetest grape you’ll ever try, with a firmer texture and high natural sugar content.

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People claim it to taste reminiscent of cotton candy (of course), toffee, burnt sugar, and vanilla.

Eat them on their own, or incorporate them into your favorite recipes!

Final Thoughts

Why are cotton candy grapes so expensive?  Are cotton candy grapes worth it?

Cotton candy grapes can be a little pricey, but they’re worth a couple of extra bucks!

Especially after you consider all the time and effort that went into concocting such a naturally sweet little treat.

They’re delicious on their own or as a complement to other recipes. If you have the opportunity to try them this year, get a few packages before they run out!