In the age of the superfoods and turbocharged communication about healthy food and ingredients prunes have lost attention. California dried plum producers feel that it is time to communicate more – and better.
I talked to Joe Turkovich, of Joe Turkovich Farms is a prune, walnut and field crop farmer based in the southern Sacramento valley and currently the chairman of the board and Donn Zea, Executive Director of the California Dried Plum Board and Prune Marketing Committee.
Turkovich’s family has been producing prunes since 1957. The family-owned farms, located in Winters, CA, consist of prunes, walnuts, and wheat. Mr. Turkovich has a Bachelor of Science in Ag Business Management from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of Sunsweet Growers, Inc. and chairs the California Dried Plum Board’s Production Research Subcommittee which oversees projects designed to provide growers with better ways to produce high quality prunes, enhance profitability and conserve resources.
The Clipper: What export markets are you targeting in the near future?
Donn Zea: We like South Korea for a few reasons. They generally have a politically stable society with a high standard of living. Prunes culturally do not come naturally to them so we have to educate about them. The South Koreans have a tendency to like new experiences. The fact that we have KORUS FTA (United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement) is a great plus for us. But I have to say: As a country we need to be better at creating new trade treaties. Some of our competitors do a much better job than our country. We are also looking at Indonesia, Southeast Asia. We still believe in China. One day it was one of our great markets through the mainland or through Hong Kong.
Joe Turkovich: We like to evolve that into a higher quality market in the future. And this can take time. They have a history of eating plums, actually salted and not the variety we grow. Introducing a new variety and taste into a culture is a very daunting task.
Donn Zea: There are also other markets where we see opportunities…
Read in full in the upcoming print edition of THE CLIPPER MAGAZINE
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