Sultanas, currants or rasins. What’s the deal?

I was asked a question by one of the catering students I was working with in Bruges about Cadbury’s decision to change the recipe of their Fruit and Nut bars, after the student had read an article in The Sun.

‘Sultanas, currants or raisins. What’s the deal?’ inquired the student.

‘Fair point’, I thought, but there has to be something in it if a business like Cadbury’s has made this change; and if disgruntled chocoholics have brought it to the attention of the press.

This was actually something that I covered in January for The BBC documentary, Rip Off Britain saying that the bulk industry will add more fruit, nuts and other inclusions to keep their price down as the cocoa commodity price continues to rise.

This is still my answer to such a question but this led me to investigate further and I discovered that sultanas contain less sugar. Could this be a deliberate ploy to reduce the sugar content in their bars following government pressure and the so-called ‘sugar tax’?

So what is the difference between the three fruits? I went shopping to Waitrose to find out exactly…

Raisins = £3.40 kg

Dried white Moscatel grapes resulting in a dark, dried fruit and like a currant, dense in texture and bursting with sweet flavour. A raisin can (unlike currants) soak up other flavours, which is why its popular to soak raisins in flavoured alcohols such as Amaretto or brandy, before using in cooking. The main producers of the Muscatel are the USA, Turkey, Greece and Australia
• per 30g serving
Per Portion
Energy 373kj
88kcal
Fat 0.4 g
Saturates 0.2 g
Sugars 69.3 g
Salt 0.02

Sultanas = £3.40 kg

A sultana is a dried white grape but this time, coming from seedless varieties of grape.Usually Thompson Seedless variety. Sultanas are golden in colour and tend to be much plumper, sweeter and juicier than other raisins. Sultanas will absorb other flavours so are good for soaking (Sultanas may have been bleached to make them lighter in colour than raisins.) sultanas are sometimes dried with vegetable oil and acid. Turkey is the main producer of sultanas
per 30g serving
Per Portion
Energy 377kj
89kcal
Fat 0.1 g
Saturates 0.0 g
Sugars 20.8 g
Salt trace

Currants = £3.40 kg

Dried Black Corinth (also known as Zante) grapes the name currant comes from the ancient city of ‘Corinth’ Other names for currants are Zante currants, Corinth raisins, or Corinthian raisins,
per 30g serving
Per Portion
Energy 1220kj
287kcal
Fat 0.4 g
Saturates 0.1 g
Sugars 67.7.8 g
Salt 0.04

Prices Based on 5th November 2015 Waitrose

So to fully answer that student’s query:

Cadbury’s may be killing two birds with one, small, sultana-shaped stone. The inclusion of sultanas in their bars decreases their cost of goods because the cocoa price is outweighing the soft fruit price. This move also curries favour with government bodies demonstrating a tangible reduction in salt and sugars, which, in today’s climate, is a big deal. In my opinion Cadbury’s have made a very shrewd move here which decreases their costs, improves health credentials and makes little or no difference to the taste. Well played sirs.

Northern Munkee