A lot of disinformation about dried fruits, and in particular, raisins, has swirled across the internet, in health campaigns and simply via word of mouth from consumer to consumer.
Many critics point to sugar content and dental health as reasons for customers to pass them by in supermarket aisles.
But the truth is, those fruits hold tremendous health benefits. Raisins South Africa, an organisation representing 700 growers, wants to set the record straight in a new campaign targeting people across the UK.
The objective? To not only educate Brits on their unique selling propositions (USP) but to debunk misconceptions and to increase its presence here. Currently, 4% of South African dried fruit is exported to the UK market.
As to health, Raisins South Africa cited The International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition study done last year on ‘Dried fruit and public health’ which said “all traditional, conventional dried fruits such as raisins have no added sugar and are formed by the removal of water.”
South African raisins are simply 100% naturally sundried grapes. They also contain a bevy of nutrients, such as fibre, iron, calcium and antioxidants. And because most of the water is extracted from dried fruits, their nutrients are concentrated.
Although a major focus of the campaign is on public health, Raisins South Africa is efforting to show UK consumers the benefits of their global location. Its raisins are produced in the Orange and Olifants river regions, which are in the Northern and Western Cape respectively. These regions experience exceptional levels of sunshine, on average 10.5 hours every day between January and March, which is when the fruit is harvested and naturally sundried.
The dry, sunny climate, along with the ample supply of water from the rivers, makes ideal growing conditions to produce the highest quality raisins with world-leading shelf life, colour and flavour. Notable:
The three main varieties of raisins are Sultana Seedless, Merbein Seedless and Selma Pete, but other varieties include Sugra 39 and Flame Seedless. The main product produced is Thompsons, Goldens, WP and Orange River. There are seven processors of South African raisins: the big four represent 85% of the total industry, two mid-size packers (14%) and one small but very focussed supplier (1%). There are 700 growers of South African raisins, working over 1,000 farms.