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‘Green Giant Fresh’ raisins make debut at Fresh Summit

by John Groh | October 14, 2011
Raisins will be marketed under the ‘Green Giant Fresh’ label as the result of a deal struck between Sun Dried Marketing and Growers Marketing.

Raisins will now be marketed under the “Green Giant Fresh” label as the result of a deal between Sun Dried Marketing and Growers Marketing, which owns the licensing rights to the “Green Giant Fresh” brand. The “Green Giant Fresh” branded raisins are to debut at the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit International Convention & Exposition in Atlanta.

John Hein, marketing director for Sun Dried Marketing, a subsidiary of Fresno, CA-based Trinity Fruit Sales Co., said that the deal had been in the works for two years, and the companies, led by David E. White, president and owner of Trinity Fruit, and Jamie Strachan, president of Growers Marketing, based in Salinas, CA, will bring a premium pack of raisins to market featuring two recognizable brand assets that have sparked interest among domestic and international buyers alike.

“The new raisin category is an important event for ‘Green Giant Fresh’ as we focus more attention on snacking opportunities for the consumer,” said Mr. Strachan.

The newest entry in the raisin category also features a General Mills “Box Tops for Education” coupon on each package, which has been a major selling tool for products that participate in that program.

Under the “Box Tops for Education” program, many General Mills products, ranging from Cheerios to Bisquick to Betty Crocker cake mixes, feature a coupon on the box that can be redeemed for 10 cents that goes directly to a participating school. Over the past 15 years, General Mills has donated about $400 million to education, with countless schools participating all over the United States. Mr. Hein said that the program has given the new brand an important promotional boost.

“We wanted to make a difference not only in offering premium raisins to the consumer, but to help give back to schools as well,” said Mr. Hein. “It was while attending the annual Growers Marketing meeting in 2010 that the group decided their new product line needed to be a part of something bigger. That’s when they concluded that partnering with General Mills and the ‘Box Tops for Education’ program was the answer.”

As the label was being developed, the group began using the power of the “Green Giant Fresh” name to market the concept to growers in California’s San Joaquin Valley, according to Mr. Hein. Eventually, an agreement was reached with Caruthers Raisin Packing Co., an independent packer based in Caruthers, CA, that has specialized in private-label production.

“We decided to partner with Caruthers Raisin because they have the reputation of packing a premium raisin,” Mr. Hein said. “We have sent samples out to many retailers, who have raved about the taste and size of the raisins. It’s a premium pack.”

‘Green Giant Fresh’ raisins will feature a General Mills ‘Box Tops for Education’ coupon, which has been a major selling tool for products that participate in the program.

The group was also encouraged by the retailer response to Caruthers’ many food-safety initiatives and the strict standards in place for the production of “Green Giant Fresh” raisins.

In addition to its reputation as a quality raisin packer, Caruthers’ raisins will be packed according to a fully audited HACCP quality-control program that has received exceptional ratings from the Global Food Safety Initiative, the American Council for Food Safety & Quality and the American Institute of Baking. The brand also offers full traceability from the grower to consumers.

Dennis Housepian, executive vice president of Caruthers Raisin Packing Co., said that the addition of the “Green Giant Fresh” label should be a boon for the California raisin industry.

“It’s great for us because it allows us to expand our business. But it should also be good for the entire raisin industry,” he said. “Any time you can expand distribution, that’s a good thing.”

California produces about 50 percent of the raisins sold worldwide, and Mr. Housepian said that in any given year, the crop fluctuates between 320,000 and 350,000 tons. In the United States, about 55 percent is sold in bulk to be used as ingredients while 45 percent is sold in a variety of consumer packs.

General Mills started the “Box Tops for Education” program to connect with key consumer households, especially those households with children, and turn everyday shopping activities into cash for America’s schools.

With an estimated reach of more than 24 million households, “Box Tops for Education” represents an increasingly important and powerful cause-related platform in which parents can get involved with the knowledge that this program offers a simple and effective way to make an impact on their children’s education as well as their healthy eating choices. In addition, retailers will benefit because the program offers a boost in retail sales.

Sun Dried Marketing will introduce the “Green Giant Fresh” raisins in a variety of high-color graphics, including a 14-count bag of mini boxes, a six-ounce pack of small boxes, bulk packs in a 12-ounce zip bag, a 15-ounce box and a 24-ounce canister, each displaying the “Box Tops for Education” coupon.

Mr. Hein said that the “Green Giant Fresh” label will be sold as a consumer pack both domestically and in overseas markets; however, only consumer packs sold within the United States will include the “Box Tops for Education” coupon.

“Green Giant Fresh” raisins will be available to sample during PMA’s Fresh Summit at booths 1047 (Green Giant Fresh) and 3731 (Trinity Fruit Sales).