RAC harvests opportunities in Asia for California raisins
Enjoyed as a stand-alone snack, in cereal blends, as baking ingredient or as flavour enhancer to dishes, California raisins are moving up the consumption ladder in Asia.
All-natural and sun-sweetened, California raisins contain dietary fibre, potassium, antioxidants and essential nutrients.
State-run Raisin Administrative Committee (RAC) has successfully increased the demand for its products in the region by promoting California raisins' versatility and numerous health benefits.
Tasked to ensure stable market conditions for the California raisin industry, RAC was established through the federal Raisin Marketing Order in 1949. The agency supports 3,000 growers and 23 processors locally to promote domestic and global consumption. RAC works closely with state inspectors, such as those from the United States Department of Agriculture, who impose strict standards - making California raisins the cleanest, highest-quality brand.
RAC exports to 56 countries, mostly in Europe and Asia, and has funded marketing programmes in 19 countries worldwide. "We have successfully created the raisin industry in 17 of those countries," says Larry Blagg, senior vice-president for marketing. "We have helped develop a taste for raisins for non-native raisin consumers in the region."
In Japan, RAC commands a 90 per cent market share and supplies to large industrial baking companies including Yamazaki Baking, Fuji Bakery and Pasco. The agency also has a growing base in South Korea, with a market share of 98 per cent.
RAC encourages demand for California raisins through its export promotional programmes. Each year, RAC holds a product development contest for the bakery and confectionery industries, where participants create commercially viable raisin products. "Since starting in Japan 23 years ago, we have developed more than 5,000 recipes and conduct similar contests in other countries such as South Korea, China, Singapore, Taiwan and Indonesia," Blagg says.
RAC seeks partnerships with bakeries, importers and retailers to further showcase its products in the region. "California raisins are the most perfectly safe food that never goes out of style," Blagg says.
Raisin Administrative Committee