California Raisins are a natural choice for bakeries
Our growing desire to enjoy our food while living healthily, reducing sugar consumption and wanting “clean label” products with minimal artificial ingredients is a compelling reason for bakeries to choose California raisins as a natural sweetener and all-round quality ingredient.
“The UK baking sector continues to provide many opportunities for California Raisins,” says Peter Meadows, UK Trade Representative of the Raisin Administrative Committee (RAC), which promotes the California Raisins brand worldwide, “and we are keen to work with everyone to explore new ways of using our product.”
Worth an estimated $5.2bn (£4.14 bn), bakery is one of Britain’s biggest food markets. According to the Federation of Bakers, the three principal sectors account for 75% of value: large plant with 75%, in-store 20% and craft with 5%. The Raisin Administrative Committee has developed a strong working partnership with the Craft Bakers Association, the main member body for the UK’s 3,500 craft bakeries, supporting them over the past decade at conference events, seminars and exhibitions.
But that’s not all, says Peter Meadows: “The RAC has also worked over many years with many bakers and confectioners, helping them produce new products. We continue to seek new products to be presented on shelf and are eager to work with NPD managers on new product ideas involving California raisins. “
The power behind the brand
The Raisin Administrative Committee (RAC) is a federal marketing order, led by 47 growers and packers. Created in 1949 the RAC is directly overseen by the US Department of Agriculture.
The UK is the world’s largest importer of dried fruit and California Raisins is actively involved with the importers’ industry body, the National Dried Fruit Trade Association, which promotes dried fruit consumption. The RAC work with UK importers and advise them of activities throughout the year and are happy to negotiate promotions with specific customers. RAC are also keen to work with ingredient suppliers in food development.
California in the spotlight
The California raisin industry produces 300,000 tons of dried fruit annually, within a 60-mile radius of Fresno, known as the central San Joaquin Valley. Japan and the UK are the top two export markets. The growers and packers in the Valley have invested heavily in equipment and technology to ensure California raisins are the cleanest and safest raisins in the world.
Raisins grow in many lands but California is the only ‘Origin’ investing in the quality of its fruit and getting the message across about the health benefits and other attributes. California raisins provide peace of mind for buyers and customers by consistently producing a clean, safe, rich tasting product from the world’s foremost raisin producing region.
Make it healthy
Around 60% of dried vine fruit imported into the UK is used in bakery and food manufacturing and you’ll find California raisins in hundreds of different baked goods. Low in fat and high in fibre, California raisins have a moderate glycaemic Index, providing a slow release of energy, so won’t make blood sugar levels spike. Raisins are also rich in iron, rich in calcium, copper, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus and zinc as well as vitamins A, B1, B6, C and E and contain flavonoids, good for blood pressure and gout.
Technical advantages of California raisins
From consistent colour and flavour to longer shelf life, there are many advantages from using California raisins in bakery products:
- “Clean label” ingredients: California Raisins play to consumer demand for “clean label” products with wholesome ingredients free from artificial colourings, flavour enhancers, stabilisers and preservatives. California raisins colour products naturally and extend products’ shelf life with naturally occurring propionic acids.
- Flavour stability: California raisins’ naturally sweet and fruity flavour develops during three weeks of sun drying and stays stable for up to 15 months, unaffected by manufacturing processes.
- Natural colour: California raisins are naturally blue-black due to the intense sun drying after picking, with no artificial colourants used in production. Their dark colour is fixed and will not bleed or discolour food products.
- Soft to chew: California raisins have a soft ‘chew’ that mimics fat and richness. They act as fat replacers in baked goods and offer pleasant chewiness in a wide range of products. They are not gritty, typically free from large sugar crystals and function well in fat-free baked goods, cookies and cakes.
- Succulent appearance: Natural wax platelets help California raisins’ skins remain intact and preserve their succulent texture and plump appearance.
- Firm texture: California raisins’ sugars create a firm texture that helps bind dry ingredients, making them a perfect base ingredient in cookies and other products where firmness counts.
- Naturally dry: California raisins perform well as a natural drying agent, reducing loss of natural moisture and extending product freshness. California raisins have a lower water activity than other dried vine fruits due to their intact skin and fructose and glucose content.
- Consistency: Careful harvesting and state-of-the-art processing ensure a consistent product, meaty and firm with consistent colour, flavour and chewiness.
- Quality control. Quality backed by strict inspection procedures makes California Raisins the best in the world.
Goodness in store
- Bulk California raisins can be stored for up to 12 months in a controlled, cool environment, retaining their colour, flavour and nutritional value. Raisins should be kept below 7°C (45F) and sealed in airtight containers. Raisins freeze well for long periods and thaw quickly at room temperature.
- Raisins are shipped in poly-lined boxes and supplied in bulk packages of 12.5kg. They are available oil coated or sugar coated on request.
Call to action
The Raisin Administrative Committee are passionate about working with Britain’s bakers to develop new products featuring California raisins.
“We’re committed to supporting our trade partners who use California raisins,” says Peter Meadows, “and giving consumers the best possible products. As the raisin experts we are keen to be involved with customer events, exhibitions and instore promotions and look forward to resuming these activities as normality returns after Covid-19.”