Spring Growth & Ingenuity
While we wait for the fruit set from spring bloom, Board staff is reviewing the programs in place and planning for the next crop year. What’s different this year is new knowledge from unprecedented experiences of the past 12 months. When it comes to marketing, we are always learning and improving and this year gave us even more to consider. Our global California Prunes brand continues to evolve as we streamline standards while focusing on what matters most for individual markets. Consumers turned to California Prunes when it was really important to be healthy, but they also discovered how delicious and versatile prunes are via partnerships with CA GROWN, Produce for Better Health, and influencers with powerful reach. As we continue to establish our brand, we will refine messages for specific audiences and collaborate with partners who help amplify our story. We have much to look forward to but remain focused on continuous improvement. The updates below provide a glimpse into how we are positioning California Prunes for various targets to remain relevant for today’s consumers.
-Kiaran Locy, Director of Brand & Industry Communications
A Healthy Diet Can Support Immune Function – Nutritious California Prunes Have a Supporting Role to Play
Maintaining a healthy immune system is complex and is impacted by age, genetic factors, and more. However, lifestyle decisions like diet can play a role and are important for maintaining a healthy immune system.
The gastrointestinal system is an essential part of keeping the immune system in balance. More than 70% of the body’s immune cells are found in the digestive system. While the gut microbiome serves many roles in the body, the main function is to metabolize dietary components that are not broken down earlier in the digestive system. However, the digestive system’s influence on human health goes much further, from vitamin synthesis, protection against pathogens, allergies, gut-brain interactions, and immune system function.
Our eating habits strongly influence microbiota. Persistent imbalance of the gut microbial community has been linked to inflammatory conditions and some chronic diseases (Belizário, 2018). Consistently eating a variety of nutrient-dense foods is important for balancing the gut microbiome and a varied diet that is rich in vegetables and fruits – such as California Prunes – can help maintain healthy digestive and immune systems (International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics).
California Prunes can help maintain a healthy gut in three primary ways: each serving of four prunes delivers a good source of fiber, contains sorbitol which works as a natural laxative, and contains polyphenols that influence the gut microbiome (Attaluri, et al. 2011).
The Importance of Dietary Fiber
Dietary fiber benefits the gut microbiota by providing food for the gut’s resident bacteria. This helps maintain a healthy ratio of good bacteria. Fiber is an essential nutrient to maintain proper gut health, which is key to supporting a healthy immune system. However, most people across the globe do not get enough fiber daily. Fiber, along with calcium, potassium, and vitamin D, are all nutrients of public health concern recognized by the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (USDA, 2020). Eating more fruits – such as California Prunes – is an easy way to help increase fiber intake. Not only is eating enough fiber important for proper gut health, but it can prevent some cardiovascular diseases and help with maintaining a healthy weight (Jenkins, et al. 2001). California Prunes are a good source of fiber with each serving providing 3 grams of fiber.
Research suggests that the effect of prunes in the gut may be mediated by dietary fiber, sorbitol, and phenolic compounds, also known as polyphenols. California Prunes naturally contain polyphenols, which act as antioxidants that protect against DNA damage and inflammation. In fact, one serving of California Prunes has more antioxidants compared to a serving of dried cranberries or dried blueberries (Carlsen, et al. 2010). New research also suggests that polyphenols may also help grow the number of good bacteria in the gut. In a clinical trial with healthy adults, polyphenols were shown to enhance the abundance of beneficial bacteria such as Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus which contribute to gut barrier protection (Lever et al. 2018).
Supporting the First Line of Defense
There is more to California Prunes than meets the eye – prunes are not only an easy snack that is ideal for on the go, but each serving contains 3g of fiber to support good gut health, powerful antioxidants to prevent cellular damage, and vitamin B6 and copper, both of which are needed for proper immune health. Optimizing nutrient intake, combined with other healthy lifestyle choices, including regular physical activity, adequate sleep, and managing stress all support the first line of defense – the immune system.
In summary, a healthy diet has a role to play in optimum gut health and immunity. Nutrient-packed California Prunes are a smart addition to a healthy diet at every age and every stage!
Holiday surprise & delight campaigns wow influencers
Increased interest in cooking at home and baking has accelerated the usage of prunes as a premium ingredient, and the holiday season was an excellent time to remind consumers of the versatility of California Prunes. Customizing outreach to influential media and social media contacts not only builds awareness but also strengthens relationships with the brand. This season, editors and influencers were able to enjoy customized California Prune surprise & delight gifts from the comfort of their homes as part of holiday promotional campaigns.
In Italy, 22 journalists and three influencers were gifted “Panettone Incanto with California Prunes”, a traditional Italian Christmas sweet, created by chocolatier Stefano Collomb. The activity was amplified in the UK by a giveaway competition through trade social media channels, demonstrating that a high-quality product can be used in multiple territories to attract attention and garner interest in California Prunes. The gift not only showcased California Prunes but also created an opportunity to establish long-lasting relationships with Italian journalists and bloggers. With a single press release, the overall campaign resulted in 24 articles across Europe.
In the U.S., CPB created a digital recipe guide designed to spark curiosity and provide inspiration to key media contacts throughout the winter season and beyond. For added surprise, the team gifted California Prunes Panforte, a traditional Italian treat, created by a local artisan, to more than 20 editors who attended a Home for the Holidays event earlier this year.
Additionally, 7 social media influencers were sent surprise & delight boxes that featured customized notecards with beautiful California Prune recipe imagery, Panforte, local coffee to enjoy together, and other goodies with an invite to create recipes that showcased California Prunes as a premium ingredient. The campaign increases usage by encouraging existing prune consumers to incorporate prunes into their baking and to create “gateway recipes” that would appeal to potential new consumers. The campaign reached 5.4M million potential consumers and generated 18.5K engagements.
While stay-at-home orders this holiday season had consumers revisiting their kitchens, the marketing teams seized the opportunity to add value to influencers, create new content and engage new consumers.
Marketing Team Adapts to Virtual Trade Events
With a marketing team spanning three continents, the California Prune Board has long had to coordinate remotely. This year put our virtual event skills to the test and Nutraceutical Business Review highlighted our ability to swiftly adapt to virtual events and creatively showcase California Prunes.
“Over the last 12 months we have pivoted our approach and how we network with the trade,” Esther told the publication. “Previously we would have attended events like the INC Congress and Food Matters Live in person, arranging face-to-face meetings with food industry professionals and showcasing the versatility of our premium prunes with chef demonstrations and sampling. Now we are tapping into the use of virtual exhibition stands to highlight the merits of California Prunes.”
Recently, CPB held a virtual trade and media seminar for over 60 participants from across China and Hong Kong. Following the postponement of a planned grower visit to China last year, the Board treated the event as an opportunity to build and develop relationships with buyers by highlighting the California Prune industry and the benefits of prunes for Chinese consumers.
As some in-person events have resumed, CPB continues to look for creative ways to highlight California Prunes. In February, CPB exhibited at Gulfood in Dubai to raise awareness of California Prunes to trade members from across the Gulf region. Bone health messages played a role in the promotional material, including a video that ran on the stand throughout the week of the exhibition.
Countdown to Summer Games
As the Summer Games draws near, California Prunes continues to authentically align with rising Canadian stars who are and will become local and national heroes. While messages have been tailored to athletes to show California Prunes benefits specific to their training, they are also curated with relevant and easy-to-understand concepts for general consumers.
Since December, six podcasts were recorded and are being added to the website podcast section on strategic dates. In addition, nine training videos have been uploaded to the Team Up Hub, with athletes sharing their top tips on everything from snacking and quick workouts to stretches and cooldowns.
Between December and March, the digital ad campaign, a combination of display, video, and podcast ads and promoted social posts, have achieved nearly 25,000 clicks. As part of the trade outreach program, a combination of four print ads and four digital ads, featuring Canadian athlete ambassadors, were featured in two key trade publications, Grocery Business, and Canadian Grocer. The ads resulted in 345,614 impressions.
The underlying objective in all activities is to convey: An athlete, at any age. A snack, at any age; California Prunes. Prunes. For Life.
Nutrition Newsletter Launches in the U.S.
Niche newsletters are a useful marketing channel to engage audiences on specific topics and inform them about new information. Nutrition facts and news about California Prunes have been shared with healthcare professionals (HCP) in several international markets but now domestic registered dietitians and other healthcare professionals will receive the latest nutritional wonders of California Prunes.
The U.S. team recently launched the first-ever issue of the Prunes. For Life. nutrition newsletter specifically for registered dietitians and other health and nutrition professionals. Within each issue of the newsletter, readers will receive highlights of peer-reviewed research, delicious and on-trend recipes and usage ideas, and nutrition insights about California Prunes.
The inaugural issue of Prunes. For Life. celebrates the incredible benefits of California Prunes every day and at every stage of life, shining a spotlight on the bone and gut health-boosting attributes of California Prunes. Supported by engaging visuals of California Prune recipes, the newsletter provides expert input from Registered Dietitian Leslie Bonci, along with the latest in bone health nutrition research, bone and gut health facts, and delicious inspiration for incorporating California Prunes into a daily diet.
This global approach is reaching influential audiences, so they are equipped to share about the wonders of California Prunes with their clients, patients, and colleagues. The strategy focuses on the benefits of California Prunes every day and at every stage of life, shining a spotlight on the bone and gut health-boosting attributes of California Prunes. Supported by engaging visuals of California Prune recipes, the newsletter provides expert input from Registered Dietitian Leslie Bonci, along with the latest in bone health nutrition research, bone and gut health facts, and delicious inspiration for incorporating California Prunes into a daily diet.
Know someone who should be receiving a newsletter dedicated to the numerous health and nutrition benefits of California Prunes? Pass along our sign-up!
Japan TV ads see continued sales increase
Beginning April 3, 2021, the second flight of the “Blessings of California” TVCM returns to Japanese TV screens for 16 days. Historically, Spring has been a high-performing season for California Prune sales in Japan, making the Spring campaign even more impactful than the Fall campaign. The advertisement will reach 40.9 million Japanese consumers in three major metropolitan areas and four regional hubs. The creative communicates the heritage, quality, and nutritional benefits of California Prunes to Japanese consumers who relish premium quality prunes.
As indicated by POS data (Nikkei POS Vision), retail sales jumped 11.4% year-over-year during the Fall campaign period. To date, California Prunes sales have stayed on a growth trajectory with retail sales growing 11.8% year-over-year, on average, nationally for five consecutive months since the 2020 Fall TVCM campaign. With the additional support of the Spring campaign, CPB Japan expects even stronger results over the next few months.
Bone Health News Roundup
Study shows diet of prunes prevents bone loss associated with spinal cord injury, Appeal-Democrat. The story was also picked up on Yahoo! News.
California Prunes highlights bone health, Fresh Produce
California hosts International Prune Association Congress
California is pleased to host the 2021 IPA Congress, which will be held virtually for the first time in its history. Join us as handler and grower panels share perspectives about the prune industry’s current position in the marketplace, challenges, opportunities, and strategies for future success. Be inspired by a paired culinary-and-nutrition presentation. Hear from the lead scientist as she presents preliminary findings from the long-awaited Penn State University bone health clinical trial. And, be informed as a leading meteorologist provides global modeling predictions for weather patterns affecting our individual prune growing regions. For more details, register here.