If you're like most people, you may not think about the behind-the-scenes journey that occurs to get your favorite foods to your plate and what happens along the way. This journey is true for all farm-fresh and packaged food, and here we're going to take a deeper dive into exactly how these precious prunes from Sunsweet® make their way to your grocery store shelves.
First things first, Sunsweet has known about the nutritional power of prunes for over a century! It all started in 1917 when a group of farmers founded the California Prune and Apricot Growers Association. This cooperative allowed Sunsweet to offer prunes to the mainstream market by combining their production capabilities and marketing communications – all under the brand name “Sunsweet.”
When it comes to prunes, we tend to forget that before dried into its succulent, chewy state, a prune is first a plum—juicy, sweet, and, at times, tangy. Sunsweet® is carefully harvesting quality plums using the fertile growing region of San Joaquin Valley in California, which allows for constant sunlight during the growing season and aids the nutritional development of the fruit. Sunsweet even has a really neat machine that gently shakes the trees for quick and easy harvesting!
Sunsweet plums are dried quickly after harvest with ten strategically located fruit dryers throughout the growing region. This way, they minimize the time and distance needed to transport the ripe yet delicate plums. The secret is drying them at their peak ripeness to lock in the natural sweetness.
From there, the fruit is transported to a large processing center that is 1.2 million square feet in size! HUGE! In fact, every day Sunsweet® produces 40,000 cases of products! This ambitious production rate would not be made possible without the support of 200 grower members.
You may have noticed that Sunsweet prunes even look different from other dried prunes on the market. Thanks to their unique pitting process, all of their prunes come in a plump little button shape. How cute! That's because their pitting process preserves the part closest to the pit – which is by far the tastiest part! And that’s how they retain all of those Feel Good nutrients and maximize the sweet flavor of all their prunes.
Not only has Sunsweet perfected the entire prune growing process, they also are working toward a more sustainable future for us all. It's no secret that farming requires a lot of resources, and Sunsweet is dedicated to preserving those precious resources through their commitment to a green future. That’s why their Family of Growers implement industry practices and standards that put the environment first. But the work doesn’t stop there – from reducing waste to finding new ways to utilize production by-products, Sunsweet is always innovating ways to increase sustainability across the board.
Here a the steps Sunsweet is taking toward a green future:
- Sunsweet recycles 200,000 lbs. of plastic, 1 million lbs. of cardboard, and 50,000 lbs. of aluminum annually.
- Energy-efficient lighting and steam power are used throughout Sunsweet's facilities, reducing annual electrical consumption by 1,460,000 kwh.
- A full 80% of the water Sunsweet uses is recycled and returned to the city water supply after treatment.
- In California, Sunsweet is nurturing 20,000 acres of trees, which help by absorbing CO2.
Next time you're in a store, look for some of their most favorite products, including the AMAZ!N PRUNES, their PRUNE JUICE and their delicious DATES! Stack up on them, and snack on them often! I know I sure, do! :)