New wrinkle added to raisin marketing

FRESNO, Calif.

Grapes soon to form in Fowler vineyards will eventually be eaten in a new sweet and sour way.

Inside the National Raisin Company's Research and Development lab, Casey Jenkins and Quinn Zweigle are always experimenting.

They added other fruit flavors to golden raisins, dusted them with sugar, mixed it all up and created a new product now sold as "Raisels."

R & D Director Casey Jenkins said "He came in. He had added the citric acid and said you gotta taste this. It tasted just like a lemon drop."

Sour and sweet.

Champion Raisels now come in several flavors - orange, apple, peach and soon, watermelon.

Jane Asmar is Vice President of Sales. She knows Raisels have begun to raise eyebrows. Asmar explained, "It tastes like candy. Kids like it and the first ingredient is a raisin. It's 100-percent fruit based."

Asmar hopes Raisels can make inroads into a very crowded snack food industry. "You walk down the snack aisle and even in the produce section there are so many single serve options for mom and so why not take an old staple like raisins that dominate the dried fruit category and kick it up a notch."

Asmar said the National Raisin Company produces one-third of all the raisins consumed in the U.S. each year. Now it's added a new wrinkle - fruit-flavored raisins.

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