11th May 2021


Global popularity of California Prunes soars

The popularity of California Prunes continues to grow globally, with sales figures across key international markets showing year-on-year rises.

In Italy, where California Prunes are already hugely popular, the latest figures from August 2020 to January 2021 show the volume of imports of California Prunes grew by five per cent, with an increase in value of six per cent[1]. The renewed popularity of its produce has been welcomed by the California Prune Board (CPB), which has sought to further boost interest in the nutritional and culinary benefits of California Prunes with TV sponsorship and product placement activity.

Sponsorship of the popular Italian TV series ‘Donnavventura’ has reaped rewards, with the show’s repeats last autumn delivering over eight million impressions amongst Italian consumers. Combined with the CPB’s work with key social media influencers like Davide Campagna, who shares recipes and fitness tips on his Instagram channel, the CPB is also further strengthening the appeal of California Prunes with product placement activity on the daily TV show “Cotto e Mangiato I Menù”, where the versatility of California Prunes has been showcased by leading chefs in a range of creative culinary dishes.

Esther Ritson-Elliott, Director of International Marketing and Communications for the California Prune Board says: “The pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have led to more consumers staying at home and using TV, on demand services and online media channels as a form of news, entertainment and escapism. An increase in audiences viewing our TV activity has combined with a shift in shopper behaviour, which has amplified our marketing activities and led to an increase in sales in Italy and other key markets.”

Indeed, the COVID-19 pandemic appears to have had a two-fold effect on the habits of consumers, with more seeking out foods that could positively impact on their health. A study by EIT Food shows that 49 percent of consumers said ‘being in good health will be more important to them’[2] as a result of the pandemic, with the fruit and vegetable categories showing the biggest rise in consumption.[3]

Esther adds: “Sales results are continuing to build across our key markets and the shelf stable nature of dried fruit as well as the increasing focus on the consumption of healthy, nutritious foods has worked in California Prunes’ favour. Add to that the fact more people have rediscovered a love of home cooking and it’s easy to see why a healthy and versatile, shelf stable ingredient like California Prunes is so attractive.”

Meanwhile a major push on the positive effects of prunes on bone health has been the focus of a CPB marketing campaign in Canada, where California Prunes have found increased popularity with a broader audience of consumers thanks to a recent brand ambassador tie up with Canadian athletes. The latest figures show that exports of California Prunes to Canada were up 16 percent[4], with the campaign embracing existing audiences and reaching new ones, such as men and younger families.

Elsewhere, the popularity of California Prunes continues to rise, with the value of California Prune exports to Japan increasing by six per cent in 2021[5]. California Prunes’ popularity in the country have been further boosted with a CPB TV advertising campaign showcasing the California heritage and nutritional benefits of its premium produce.

The latest airing of the ‘Blessings of California’ advert last month was set to reach over 40 million Japanese consumers in three major metropolitan areas. It follows promising results and an uplift in retail sales value following three previous transmissions of the ad campaign in Autumn 2019 and again in 2020, with weekly POS data growing on average 11.4 per cent[6] year on year. The ‘Blessings of California’ ad has also been reworked for use on YouTube in both Italy and the UK.

Esther concludes: “Japan is our largest export market, and we’ve looked to build on that position with TV advertising. Globally, more and more consumers are recognising the premium quality and health benefits of California Prunes. The Board plans to continue with its marketing push to further increase awareness of California Prunes, with a particular focus on the positive impact consumption can have on both bone and gut health.”

For more information on California Prunes, visit www.californiaprunes.net

Kathryn Swinglehurst, Apple Tree Communications (ATC) Ltd   /   E:  kath@appletreecomms.co.uk / T: +44 (0) 7775 814156

[1] TDM Aug 20-Jan 21 vs same period Prior Year

[2] https://www.eitfood.eu/news/post/eit-food-report-reveals-lasting-impact-of-covid-19-pandemic-on-european-food-behaviours

[3] https://www.eitfood.eu/media/news-pdf/COVID-19_Study_-_European_Food_Behaviours_-_Report.pdf

[5] Source: FAS, Aug 2020 – Mar 2021 vs same period Prior Year

[6] POS data, retail sales value sourced from Nikkei POS Vision