But excellent fruit sizes are on the horizon after favourable weather, California Prune Board says

California experienced favourable weather during prune bloom, and growers are observing good sizes on fruit-set, reports the California Prune Board.

While production looks promising, supplies are expected to be tight again this season with an estimated 75,000 tons (68,000 metric tonnes) in volume for the 2023 prune crop year, the executive committee of the California Prune Board said.

Bigger sizes for California Prunes are in line with the premium quality of the crop. While still in the first half of the growing season, the prune trees in California appear happy from the wet weather with natural fruit drop, resulting in what growers anticipate will be a range of optimum sizes.

“We’ve built solid demand and California prune handlers maintain careful inventory management, putting our industry in a pretty steady position,” said Donn Zea, executive director for the California Prune Board. “The cost of business and continued tight supply is likely to keep pressure on pricing for the foreseeable future.”

While participating on a panel of dried fruit industry leaders during the 40th meeting of the International Nut & Dried Fruit Congress (INC) in London last month, Zea reported that while production will be higher this year, the global prune industry is in relative balance between supply and demand.

“The industry realities are impacted by a return to typical crop years in South America and France after short crops last year,” added Zea.

California is the largest producer of prunes in the world and heavily invests in scientific research to continue leading the category.

In related news, the California Prune Board is using Men’s Health Week (12-18 June 2023) to highlight that maintaining healthy bones should be high on the agenda for men as well as women.

CPB dietitian and nutritionist Annamaria Acquaviva explains: “Whether you’re male or female, it’s never too early to think about bone health. The majority of bone mass is acquired by age 18 in girls, and age 20 in boys, with bone development reaching maximum aged 30.”

Despite this, simple lifestyle and diet changes can be made at any age to improve skeletal health and maintain normal bones. Reducing or cutting out risk factors like alcohol and smoking is key while staying active and eating well are also important. Vitamins and minerals essential to bone health include vitamin K, manganese, vitamin D, calcium, and potassium.

Acquaviva adds: “Getting vitamin D from the sun and eating a balanced diet can play a role in building healthy bones, including fruit and vegetables, dairy, and proteins like oily fish and poultry. California Prunes contain a range of nutrients such as vitamin K, manganese, potassium, boron, and copper as well as fibre. Eating a handful of prunes a day can maintain normal bones as well as the digestive system and the immune system, with a recent study pointing to the promising effect prunes can have on men’s bone health.”

A study by Hooshmand, et al., reported that eating prunes daily has a protective effect on bone health in men over 50. It is one of more than 50 published studies that demonstrate the nutritional benefits of prunes on bone health, gut health and satiety.

In 2022, California Prunes were awarded “Bone Health Approved” status by the Royal Osteoporosis Society (ROS); the first natural food to have been given this accreditation by the UK charity.