Why Are Cotton Candy Grapes So Expensive?

Correction 6/6/22: This article previously stated cotton candy grapes were created using genetic engineering. Per International Fruit Genetics, the company that created the grapes, they were made using traditional breeding methods and are non-GMOs.

There are many different varieties of grapes around the world. Many types of grapes are created for specific purposes. Concord grapes, for example, are most commonly used to create jams and juices. Others are grown specifically for creating wine. However, only a handful of varieties are typically sold in grocery stores for eating. Sultana and crimson seedless grapes are the varieties most commonly available for purchase, states The Spruce Eats.

One of the more popular varieties in recent years is cotton candy grapes. They are exactly what the name implies them to be. They maintain all of the nutritional properties of their table grape counterparts. These benefits include protein, fiber, vitamin C, and potassium (via Healthline). However, the biggest difference with cotton candy grapes is that you get to enjoy all of that nutritious value, but with a sweet flavor that has been compared to the popular fair treat that their name is derived from. The sweeter taste can be a great motivator to inspire picky eaters to add more fruit to their diets.

High-demand for a small, sweet treat

David Cain of the company International Fruit Genetics created cotton candy grapes by experimenting with traditional breeding methods (via Bakersfield). After 12 years, Cain finally achieved the taste he was aiming for. Once this was achieved, cotton candy grapes first hit the shelves in 2011 (via The Shelby Report). 

In 2017, LiveScience noted that they retailed for around $6 per pound. This was a big price difference compared to the average cost for seedless grapes, which was $2.61 per pound (via Statista). Over the last few years, they seem to have come down in price with Taste of Home noting that cotton candy grapes have been spotted at the big box retailer Costco for around $3 per pound. That being said, Statista notes that regular grapes have come down as well, averaging only $2.20 as of 2020.

The increased cost of cotton candy grapes comes down to production. The Grapery states that cotton candy grapes have a short season of availability, lasting from mid-August to late September. This means that the high demand for cotton candy grapes has to be met in a short time.

As time goes on and demand for this grape variety increases, we may see prices continue to fall. But for now, would you pay premium prices for this upgraded fruit?