Significant rise in California Prune exports to Japan
The California Prune industry has seen the value of exports to Japan rise by eight per cent, partly boosted by consumer desire for nutritious, shelf stable foods against the backdrop of the global pandemic.
The California Prune Board (CPB), which highlights the premium prunes supplied by the US state’s growers and packers, believes the jump in sales has also been driven by a successful television advertisement campaign, which has seen California Prunes back on Japanese screens after a six-year hiatus.
Esther Ritson-Elliott, Director of International Marketing & Communications for the CPB, says: “Japan is our largest export market and over the last year we’ve sought to bolster our presence there with a renewed focus on TV advertising, with a commercial aired last October, and again in April this year.
“The TV campaign led to a rise in sales on both occasions, and significantly so in the spring, with weekly POS data levels rising by as much as 68% in major metropolitan areas where our campaign aired. National figures for monthly POS rose by 33% in April, followed by 28% in May.”
The California Prune Board’s above-the-line marketing activity has also since coincided with the Covid-19 pandemic, which may have contributed in part to increased interest in California Prunes given the nutritional benefits they offer. The vitamins and minerals naturally found in California prunes include vitamin K, vitamin B6, copper, manganese and fibre, which play an important part in bone and digestive health, and the immune system.
Esther adds: “Like the restrictions covering much of Europe, consumers in Japan were under ‘lockdown’ following the state of national emergency declared by the government. With much of the public at home, the impact of the California Prune Board commercial was likely further intensified, especially given part of the appeal of prunes is that they can be safely stored in the cupboard for up to a year, and make a versatile and tasty cooking ingredient and snack.
“We’re delighted that demand for our premium quality California Prunes continues to grow in Japan, underlining the importance of taste, quality and nutrients for consumers there.”
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 Source: FAS, Aug 2019 – May 2020 vs same period Prior Year.
 Prunes are high in vitamin K and a source of manganese, which contribute to the maintenance of normal bones. Vitamin B6 and copper contribute to the normal function of the immune system. Prunes are the only natural, whole and dried fruit to achieve an authorised health claim in the EU, which states that 100g of prunes, eaten daily, can contribute to the maintenance of normal bowel function.