California Raisins once again hosted the National Dried Fruit Trade Association (NDFTA) bi-annual Review at one of London’s most prestigious locations, the Roof Gardens in Kensington.
Members from every section of the Dried Fruit Industry came to the Roof Gardens on the 15th July 2015 to network and listen to talks by guest speakers such as Ed Garner from Kantar Worldpanel and Nutritionist Jennette Higgs from Food To Fit.
The main focus was on the wide-ranging health benefits of dried fruit and how the dried fruit industry can educate consumers, pushing them away from believing through the media that natural sugars are worse for you than a bag of Haribo Starmix.
A presentation from Peter Meadows, UK and European Marketing Director for California Raisins focussed on the fact that educating consumers is key to overcoming prejudice and the need to get the British government on board with making the distinction between fruit derived sugars and natural and added sugars.
‘Compared to the 1970s and 80s, 33% more sugar is now consumed in the UK. Before, fat was considered as the bad ingredient, so they were replacing it with sugar. Now sugar is the issue.’ He added.
Meadows concluded by saying that research and trends had indicated that in 100 years, smoking will be pretty much extinct because consumers in emerging countries which form the mainstay of tobacco burning, will be educated enough to know the health dangers. This is now the new target for the dried fruit industry to consumers; promote and differentiate fruit based sugars contained in dried fruit versus sugar added, as well as the many health benefits of consuming dried fruit in general.
The Hidden Issue…
Managing Director of Whitworths, Colin Stephens exposed the hidden issue in the dried fruit industry, explaining that ‘snacking is in high growth and a key opportunity to embrace’.
Stephens also expanded on the fact that the media has a huge impact in the portrayal of dried fruit, which is therefore affecting the sales of the product.
‘The sales of dried fruit is in small growth but nuts are exploding. The nut industry is continually communicating the benefits of eating nuts.’
‘With the media unclear about the distinction between added sugar and fruit sugar content in dried fruit but positive about the healthy fats in nuts. The dried fruit industry could emulate this and communicate the healthier sugar benefits contained in dried fruit’
Nutritionist, Jennette Higgs also underlined the fact that consumers are confused between added sugar and natural occurring sugars in dried fruit.
‘We need to educate them as they think processed fruit snacks – those containing added sugars, count as one of their 5 a day’.
The WHO 2015 report states that free sugar should be limited to 5% daily, but fails to mention dried fruit at all. However there are ways the dried fruit industry can contribute, especially with the increased fibre content.
The aim is to ‘distinguish, educate and invest in research’ said Higgs, ‘so we can portray the low fat benefits of dried fruit and the great source of potassium raisins have to maintain blood pressure. We need to start associating dried fruit with fresh fruit.’
Ed Garner from Kantar Wordpanel highlighted that there has been an increase in healthy snacking.
‘Numbers have risen from 11% to 22% with the snacking market increasing by 7% at full price growth, so this is a positive story for the dried fruit industry.’
Marcus Welch, Director at Chelmer Foods Ltd says that the key message is promoting that the sugar content in dried fruit is naturally derived.
‘It’s the same as grapes? No one is out there punishing grapes for high sugar, it’s that whole assumption that when the fruit is dried the sugar content increases, in fact the sugar content remains the same, all you lose is the water’.
‘We need clearer information and bigger companies, as well as the US and EU to group together to promote the health benefits.’
However, Welch believes that consumers are loyal to California raisins and the market is slowly creeping upwards. ‘The only extra thing we need to do is to target certain areas to maintain a core, whether that be snacking, baking or children.’
Colleague of Welch, Jonathon Ray, trusts that the fault lies with the disconnection from the manufacture.
‘At Easter and Christmas dried fruit is used in everything, such as Hot Cross Buns, Christmas Puddings and Mince Pies. There needs to be a bigger push around these times for the use of dried fruit and specifically raisins. We need to put to use the loyalty we have already’.