California raisins are in the news as of late ... and for all the right reasons. For starters, the California Raisin Marketing Board is anxiously anticipating April 18-20, when it will sponsor the new raisin flavor category at the National Pie Championships. To participate in the category, pie bakers must include at least one cup of California raisins in either a raisin-only or other flavor pie.
“We look forward to this opportunity to partner with the American Pie Council’s goal of preserving America’s pie heritage,” says Larry Blagg, senior vice president of the CRMB. “California raisins have been a traditional ingredient in baked goods, and we look forward to seeing raisins make an appearance in a wide variety of pies.
“California raisin growers are excited about being part of the National Pie Championships for years to come,” Blagg adds.
Other California raisin headlines include the results of a 2007 Technomic study that reveals 46% of all California raisins sold in the United States go into grain-based foods. As a result, Blagg says, the industry has re-focused its marketing programs, trade show support and product development work in those industries in which grains are an integral part of the product.
For example, Blagg notes, CRMB consultant Tom Payne will make two presentations during the Prepared Foods R&D Applications Seminar, April 14-15, about the use of California Raisins for antioxidant enrichment and flavor enhancement.
As if that weren’t enough, the CRMB is sponsoring a scholarship for the 16- week baking course at the American Institute of Baking International, Manhattan, Kan. The CRMB also worked with the AIB to promote the institute’s recently completed Laminated and Sweet Dough, and Whole Grains & Healthy Inclusions seminars. Additionally, the board will support the AIB’s upcoming Bagel Seminar, to be held during the week of March 17.
More news: The CRMB recently approved the formation of a Nutrition Research Panel consisting of distinguished scientists from around the nation. These scientists will assist the raisin industry in being more strategically focused on identifying new and important nutrients and phyto-nutrients within raisins, and their effects on the human diet. The board currently is recruiting members for this panel.
Last but not least, the CRMB plans to conduct targeted seminars for baking product wholesalers and distributors in which those companies’ products are matched up with California raisins, raisin paste and raisin juice concentrate, Blagg says.
“The goal is to provide retail and wholesale bakers with a wider variety of value-added product ideas, which will ultimately turn into broader product offerings for their consumers,” he explains.
It’s safe to say that California raisins are the least cost, all-natural fruit that can be added to any grain-based food, Blagg adds.
“There are between 1,000 and 1,200 berries per pound to this wrinkled, yet nutrient rich dried fruit,” he notes.
With the rapidly rising cost of grains and a growing desire to provide consumers with all-natural products, California raisins can fill that need, Blagg concludes — hence the CRMB’s many initiatives for 2008 and beyond. SF&WB
Editor’s Note: Information for this advertorial was provided by the California Raisin Marketing Board. For more information, visit www.LoveYourRaisins.com.