The California Table Grape Commission, Fresno, says its foodservice outreach is paying off.

The commission's domestic marketing staff's ongoing meetings with foodservice trade publication editors in 2008 resulted in numerous articles that reached the nation's chefs, foodservice directors and menu developers, said Cindy Plummer, vice president of domestic marketing.

"With consumers demanding more healthful options when they eat out, we've seen foodservice become an increasingly important outlet for fresh grapes from California," she said.

Foodservice professionals constantly seek new ideas and inspiration from trade journals, as well as evidence of what their colleagues and competitors are doing, Plummer said. Among the publications that carried articles about table grapes, she said, were Restaurant Hospitality, Food Management, Flavor & the Menu, Restaurants and Institutions, National Culinary Review and Foodservice Director.

The articles reached 3.6 million people, and the commission calculates the articles on table grapes, if purchased as display advertising, would have cost nearly $140,000, which translates to a five-to-one return on investment, Plummer said.

Topics of the meetings were not limited to recipes with table grapes as an ingredient. The staff provided everything from photography and nutrition and health information to offers of resource materials and case studies, Plummer said. A by-product of the outreach is that table grapes are becoming a staple in casual dining operations.

"The acceptance of grapes as an ingredient began in high-end restaurants, but is now common in every type of foodservice operation," she said.

The media coverage helped keep California grapes top-of-mind with chefs and menu developers, Plummer said, and enhanced the perception about grape usage in foodservice venues.