“Many consumers still regard prunes as something for older people who need a digestive health aid,” Donn Zea, executive director of the California Dried Plum Board, told FoodNavigator-USA. But, he said, “California prunes have so much to offer in terms of nutrition and culinary applications – which is exactly why a partnership with Chef’d made sense, to help us communicate the many benefits.”
He explained that “Chef’d works as a full-circle partner to help us reach our target audience,” in part by providing access to consumers who are interested in experimenting with ingredients they might not typically use in cooking – like California prunes.
“The Chef’d program also allows us to provide collateral materials to the consumer to educate them about the culinary and nutritional benefits of California prunes,” he said.
For example, he explained, a single serving of four to five prunes only has 100 calories, offers 3 grams of fiber, is free-from fat, sodium and cholesterol, and can help support healthy bones and help maintain good digestive health. In terms of culinary benefits, the fruit can add a touch of sweetness to a dish without added sugar and help deepen the flavors of other ingredients.
To showcase these benefits and the diverse ways that prunes can be used, California Dried Plum Board enlisted registered dietitian and chef Michelle Dudash to craft three options that use dried plums. They include California Prune-Glazed Pork Tenderloin with Sugar Snap Peas, Chicken Curry with California Prunes and Pan-Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpeas with California Prunes and Almonds.
“Later in the year, California prunes will launch three additional registered dietitian-created meal kits featuring lighter fare perfect for spring and summer,” according to the California Dried Plum Board.
The board will further expand the reach and impact of the partnership through a “surprise-and-delight sampling program” that will give thousands of Chef’d customers snack packs of California prunes with their a la cart meal kit orders.
“Our hope is that once consumers become more familiar with using California prunes in cooking, they will want to make California prunes a staple in their shopping carts,” Zea said, noting that last year approximately 40,000 tons of California prunes were shipped to the trade in the US.
To further expand consumer awareness about the benefits and uses of California prunes, the California Dried Plum Board also will debut a new brand in 2018, Zea said.
“Underway now, the board is conducting a comprehensive re-branding process that will include thorough market research to help ensure the new brand resonates with key audiences,” he said, adding, “Global perspectives will also help to shape the new brand as insights are gathered from market representatives in key California prunes markets, including Canada, China, Europe, Japan and Korea.”