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Prune gets $10 million makeover -- as dried plum

dried prunes
In Japan the prune is valued for its high potassium content, but in the United States the fruit suffers from an image problem  

PLEASANTON, California (Reuters) - What's in a name? Hopefully a sweet new image for the dowdy prune after a $10 million makeover into a "dried plum."

After some 10 years of falling sales, the dark wrinkly processed fruit best known for its laxative properties is being re-marketed as a vitamin-rich snack for busy people on the go, the California Prune Board said Tuesday.

"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 Richard Peterson, executive director of the California Prune Board. But he had no plans to rename his group the California Dried Plum Board.

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California's prune growers -- the world's largest producers of the fruit -- hope the name change reaching U.S. supermarkets next month will do what the renaming of the fruit now known as the kiwifruit did for the obscure Chinese gooseberry. It was a makeover that worked wonders.

"If you can get people to try it, in general they like it and will buy it. Dried plums have changed -- they are moister, they are a little bit sweeter and less wrinkled. It's a convenient healthy snack to carry around for a busy lifestyle," said marketing director Peggy Castaldi.

The campaign to prove that a prune by any other name tastes as sweet gets underway in October. But it will be restricted to the United States.

"It is only in the United States that prunes have a negative image. Outside the United States people have very, very positive associations with prunes," said Castaldi.

In Finland and France, prunes are used in pork and duck dishes, while the fruit is popular in Italy and the Netherlands. In Japan the prune is valued for its high potassium content.

Copyright 2000 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.



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