California Prune Board
The California Prune Board (CPB), which highlights the premium prunes supplied by California’s growers and packers, believes the jump in sales has also been driven by a successful television advertisement campaign, produced using U.S. federal export programs, which has seen California Prunes back on Japanese television screens after a six-year hiatus.
Esther Ritson-Elliott, Director of International Marketing & Communications for the CPB, says: “Japan is our largest export market and over the last year we’ve sought to bolster our presence there with a renewed focus on TV advertising, with a commercial aired last October, and again in April this year.”
She notes: “The TV campaign led to a rise in sales on both occasions, and significantly so in the spring, with weekly POS data levels rising by as much as 68% in major metropolitan areas where our campaign aired. National figures for monthly POS rose by 33% in April, followed by 28% in May.”
The California Prune Board’s above-the-line marketing activity has coincided with the Covid-19 pandemic, which may have contributed in part to increased interest in California Prunes given the nutritional benefits they offer. The vitamins and minerals naturally found in California prunes include vitamin K, vitamin B6, copper, manganese and fiber, which play an important role in bone and digestive health, and the immune system.
Ms. Ritson-Elliott adds: “Like the restrictions covering much of Europe, consumers in Japan were under ‘lockdown’ following the state of national emergency declared by the government. With much of the public at home, the impact of the California Prune Board commercial was likely further intensified, especially given part of the appeal of prunes is that they can be safely stored in the cupboard for up to a year, and make a versatile and tasty cooking ingredient and snack.”
“We’re delighted that demand for our premium quality California Prunes continues to grow in Japan, underlining the importance of taste, quality and nutrients for consumers there.”
California grows 99% of the total United States’ production of prunes and 40% of the world’s supply. Today, there are about 46,000 acres of California Prune orchards concentrated in the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys. Prunes are high in vitamin K and a source of manganese, which contribute to the maintenance of healthy bones. Vitamin B6 and copper contribute to the normal function of the immune system. Prunes are the only natural, whole and dried fruit to achieve an authorized health claim in the EU, which states that 100g of prunes, eaten daily, can contribute to the maintenance of normal bowel function.
During the summer, farmers often irrigate their prune orchards. Due to advanced agricultural technology, they can provide precise water levels only when needed and where necessary in the orchard.