Raisins can reach for produce-style celebrity

Articles
November 24, 2008

Raisins can reach for produce-style celebrity

Are raisins about to have another celebratory day in the sun? Two decades after animated dancing raisins raised the fruit’s profile in a fun way, there’s a more serious health bent to today’s marketing efforts that speak to consumers’ concerns. If I Heard It Through The Grapevine was their anthem in 1988, their song today might be track nine, Sweet, Delicious and Marvelous from their eponymous album back then. By going medical in its marketing, the California Raisin Marketing Board (CRMB) looks to be aiming high—to imbue a packaged dried fruit sold in center-store with the same kind of good-for-you appeals as blueberries and other produce stars. Could the effort translate? As long as other elements line up right, there’s little to prevent raisins from once again capturing the fascination of Americans who remember the earlier campaign with affection. One measure of their past success: the merchandising gross from California Raisins licensed products in the peak year of 1988 reportedly topped what the state’s farmers made selling raisins that year, noted Wikipedia. That’s consumer response!

Are raisins about to have another celebratory day in the sun?

Two decades after animated dancing raisins raised the fruit’s profile in a fun way, there’s a more serious health bent to today’s marketing efforts that speak to consumers’ concerns.

If I Heard It Through The Grapevine was their anthem in 1988, their song today might be track nine, Sweet, Delicious and Marvelous from their eponymous album back then.

By going medical in its marketing, the California Raisin Marketing Board (CRMB) looks to be aiming high—to imbue a packaged dried fruit sold in center-store with the same kind of good-for-you appeals as blueberries and other produce stars. Could the effort translate?

As long as other elements line up right, there’s little to prevent raisins from once again capturing the fascination of Americans who remember the earlier campaign with affection. One measure of their past success: the merchandising gross from California Raisins licensed products in the peak year of 1988 reportedly topped what the state’s farmers made selling raisins that year, noted Wikipedia.  That’s consumer response!

Today, medical research supports the tiny food that’s both a portable snack and a healthy way to add sweetness to many recipes. One report in particular suggests that raisin compounds may reduce cavity-causing bacteria. In her coverage of clinical work by Dr. Christine Wu and colleagues from the University of Illinois at Chicago Dental School, Julie Miller Jones, Ph.D., wrote the team showed that “various compounds in raisins—oleanolic acid and its derivatives—inhibit growth of streptococcus mutans and the periodontal pathogen porphyromonas gingivalis that causes gum disease. These compounds also interfere with adherence of these cariogenic bacteria. Therefore, raisins may not promote dental caries like other sticky foods.”

Her paper discussed other supportive research as well, and concluded that “raisins may be an ideal snack” despite dentist recommendations to avoid sticky foods between meals. “They provide nutrients, energy, sweetness and a serving of fruit…without promoting dental caries,” wrote Miller.

If the CRMB were to back more studies about the nutritional aspects of raisins, that marketing transformation could happen, believes SupermarketGuru.com, and there may well be dancing in the dried fruit aisle.