The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted the California Prune Board (CPB) permission to use “dried plums” as an alternative name to “prunes.”
The CPB requested the name change after research showed that the name “dried plum” offers a more positive connotation than “prune” and would encourage more people to try the fruit. The CPB hopes the name change will attract its target audience, women 35 to 50. This group of 44 million people makes up approximately 16 percent of the U.S. population and makes the majority of household purchase decisions.
California prunes aren’t the only commodity product to change its name. The wildly popular kiwifruit was previously called a Chinese gooseberry. California prune growers are hoping for some of the same excitement surrounding their product.
“People have told us that dried plums evoke a more positive `fresh fruit goodness’ image. They’ve said they’re more likely to eat dried plums than prunes,” said CPB Executive Director Richard L. Peterson.
California Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein supported the name change and wrote a letter to the FDA to encourage the transition.
“It’s important, I think, for our economy that we sell our produce here and abroad and that we give our people every chance that we can to sell the most that they can. And clearly, if you call a dried plum a dried plum instead of calling it a prune, it sells better. So I’m all for that. I think we’re talking about jobs, we’re talking about all kinds of good things that can happen once we can sell this product as a dried plum,” said Boxer.
Under the new ruling, prune packers will be required to change the product’s name in two phases. In the first phase, both names (dried plums and prunes) will appear on packaging for two years. In addition, an industry-wide consumer education program will be conducted to minimize confusion among consumers. The second phase will complete the transition to dried plums as the only name on packaging.
California produces 99 percent of all the prunes grown in the United States and 70 percent of the world’s supply. The California Prune Board represents the industry’s 1,250 growers and 22 packers of California prunes. Its primary function is to promote prunes worldwide through advertising, public relations, sales promotion and education programs to encourage increased consumption of the fruit. The $10 million plus program is totally funded by the growers and handlers through crop assessments.