AG Watch

Dried plum industry gets Olympic boost

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

For generations you enjoyed them as prunes but the industry felt a name change could reach more consumers. The fruit looks and tastes the same but at many stores the sweet snacks are now marketed as California dried plums.

Todd Mendonca grows 40 acres of French plums in Tulare County. He said the name change was a smart move.

Mendonca explained, "Well it seems like when it was prunes it was meant for one thing. They always pushed going towards the older people and with this dried plum idea I believe it's attracted more of a crowd, a younger crowd."

Natalie Coughlin is the face of the California dried plum industry. The 12-time Olympic medalist is the board spokesperson.

Natalie said of her travels across the U.S., "I talk about various recipes that I use dried plums for - whether they're savory or sweet. I talk about their nutrition profile."

You may have also seen Natalie on ABC's "Dancing with the Stars." Coughlin said she's always snacked on dried plums while training and competing in the pool.

"Especially when I would go to competitions and stock that mini fridge that you would have in the hotel I would always get dried plums," explained Natalie.

Mendonca believed Coughlin's celebrity status has given the industry a boost.

"I thought it was an excellent choice," said Mendonca. "I think she, being the swimmer and being healthy as she is. I just thought she was an excellent choice for us."

The crop is shaken off trees during harvest. Now the industry hopes to shake up the marketplace by getting more young people to try dried plums.

(Copyright ©2014 KFSN-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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