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CurrantC has just completed the first major production run of its black currant nectar and nectar-juice blends.

The Staatsburg, NY-based firm has started shipping the first cases of its six new flavors, which are original black currant and black currant-juice blends with boysenberry, blueberry, clementine, passion fruit and strawberry/kiwifruit. The products are destined for the United States and Canada, said Mark Sherburne, CurrantC's director of sales and marketing for North America.

Mr. Sherburne told The Produce News that about 25 major retailers in the Midwest, Northeast, Texas, California and eastern Canada have already received their first shipments of CurrantC, and the rest of the United States and Canada are expected to follow by the end of the month or early March.

"Most retailers that are sampling the product have been having a tough time deciding which flavor they like best," said Mr. Sherburne, who has been involved in sales of juices sold in the produce department for eight years. He said that a campaign to support the products' distribution would begin in early March.

"The product has been well-received, but what's exciting is that we're looking at a whole plan, [which includes] merchandising, public relations, distribution, logistics and trade support," he said. "Clients are recognizing that it's this total package that will drive sales."

Black currants were reintroduced to the United States in 2003 by CurrantC's parent company, The Currant Co., after its president, Greg Quinn, lobbied New York state lawmakers to overturn a law that had banned them since the early 20th century. These nectars are the first domestically produced, nationally available black currant products of any kind.

The nectar and nectar-juice blends, the latter of which were introduced in October, come in newly redesigned six 16-ounce HDPE plastic bottles per case and have new labels and graphics. They are flash-pasteurized and cold- filled, which help the product retain its nutrients, according to Mr. Sherburne. The nectar and juice blends contain high levels of antioxidants, vitamin C, potassium, iron, calcium and magnesium.

The original nectar was sweetened with cane sugar, but the new variety is sweetened with an organic agave, which Mr. Sherburne noted has a very low glycemic index. Originally bottled by a local co-packer that would produce anywhere from 20,000 to 30,000 cases per year, the line is now bottled in a state-of-the-art, high-speed facility that has the capability to produce the same amount in a day.