Predominantly our main country of origin for Raisins are Turkey, USA (Californian), South Africa and Chile. Other origins such as Afghanistan and Argentina are available although not as widely used in the UK market. A large proportion of the Raisins sold in the UK are derived from the fresh grape variety known as Thompson Seedless.
Turkish Raisins are grown in the area surrounding the Western City of Izmir and there are over 20 factories that pack and export fruit. The crop is harvested traditionally at the end of August and beginning of September. Raw material is openly traded at a buyers market known as “The Bourse”, this is where growers/brokers will bring representative samples of product in hand and offer to packers. The Bourse will traditionally steer the exporters in what price they offer finished material at.
USA Raisins are grown in and around the Californian city of Fresno. Traditionally the UK imports Californian Thompson Seedless Raisins or Golden Raisins. Golden Raisins are exposed to SO2 in ovens to obtain and preserve their bright golden colour.
California is the largest growing region of Raisins in the world with a yearly tonnage in the region of 300,000 tonnes.
South African Raisins are grown in the province of Uppington. The climate and soil surrounding the Orange River is ideal for growing grapes. South Africa mainly exports Golden Raisins to the UK due to their superior quality over other origins of Goldens (Chile & Iran). The goldens in South Africa are traditionally treated in SO2 whilst drying in metal sheds on the top of hills during the hot drying period.
Chilean Raisins are grown in the Los Andes area about 1 hour north of Santiago. The most exported Chilean Raisins into the UK is a Jumbo Flame Raisin. The Jumbo Flame is known for it’s very dark deep red/black colour and the large size compared to Thompsons from Turkey or USA. The Jumbo Flame is extremely popular amongst the UK’s cereal manufacturers due to its uniqueness. The Chilean crop is harvested in March.