Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery was recently able to catch up with Tim Kenny, vice president of marketing, California Raisins Marketing Board, to ask a few questions about California Raisins' growth and consumers' eating habits.


Liz Parker: Why are consumers paying more attention to the food they eat and how it fuels their bodies?

Tim Kenny: In the wake of COVID-19, we’ve seen consumers taking more steps to educate themselves about health and wellness, with a recent study finding that 77 percent of consumers want to do more to stay healthy in the future. Making small changes to one’s diet—like swapping out added sugars with a natural option like California raisins—is one of the ways we’re seeing consumers adapt their eating habits. Consumers also are looking for more added value nutrition in their snacks and California raisins provide fiber (7 percent DV), potassium (6 percent DV) and iron (4 percent DV) in each ¼ cup serving.


LP: Why did the sale of California Raisins grow 24 percent last growing season?

TK: We’ve seen consumers increasingly prioritizing health and wellness, resulting in wholesalers and CPG companies seeking out more natural solutions to barriers like added sugar and fat, California raisins are a solution to both: they address barriers for health-conscious consumers by providing natural sweetness with no added sugar, plus they hold water and build natural viscosity, helping maintain a soft, appealing texture in goods throughout their shelf life without the need for texturizers or preservatives. Consumers also have been cooking and baking more at home, rediscovering old favorites and also experimenting with new ways to incorporate more nutritious ingredients into their meals. We’ve also seen an uptick in demand for shelf-stable ingredients like raisins which can ensure that you always have whole fruits on hand for snacking and adding natural sweetness in cooking/baking.  


LP: How can raisins be used for on-trend products, or as an on-trend ingredient?

TK: California Raisins are 100 percent natural fruit sweetened only by the sun with no added sugar or juice. As a better sweet snack and ingredient, raisins can be enjoyed in a variety of ways and are easily added to an array of products. Some trendy uses for raisins include:

  • Crispy Garbanzo Bean Snack Mix With Coconut Flakes and Curry: snack mixes are hot and California raisins are the perfect naturally sweet complement to other spicy ingredients
  • Rum Raisin Blondie Bites: Snack size bakery bites are in demand and rum raisin is both trendy and nutritious. Raisins also offer a natural solution to many baking challenges including:
    • Added sugar reduction: Without any added sugars or artificial sweeteners, California raisins are a way to offer a cleaner label with less added sugar.
    • Fat replacement: California raisins provide a smooth, creamy texture that offers a plump, soft “chew” as a fat replacement. 
    • Viscosity: California raisin paste has a high water-binding capacity that clings to moisture and creates a smooth, viscous texture that thickens everything from sauces to smoothies, without the need for gums and modified starches.  
    • Binding: Raisin juice concentrate can act as a replacement for sugar syrup for adhering dry ingredients in bars, breakfast cereals, cookies and snack clusters.
    • Manage moisture: With their intact skins and fructose and glucose content, California raisins typically have a lower water activity than other vine fruits dried to the same moisture level, meaning they are often used in low-moisture snacks, cereals, bars and confections to manage moisture.