Sun-Maid Growers of California is a cooperative of raisin growers headquartered in Kingsburg, California. It was founded in 1912 as the California Associated Raisin Company. As a cooperative, Sun-Maid is owned by family farmers who grow raisin grapes all located within 100 miles (200 km) of each other in the Central Valley of California, midway between Los Angeles to the south and San Francisco to the north.
Once raisins were established as a marketable crop which grew and dried well under the California sun, raisin grape area expanded rapidly in the late 1800s. The earliest efforts to form a successful cooperative business to be owned by raisin growers started in 1898. But the cooperative did not become a reality until 1912 when the entire community supported the establishment of the California Associated Raisin Company. In 1915, the brand name SUN-MAID was launched, and within a year, executives of the company discovered a local girl, Lorraine Collett Petersen, a seed planter and picker from Fresno, California whose smiling face, red sunbonnet, and tray of fresh grapes would become synonymous with sun-dried California raisins.
By 1918, facilities had become inadequate for the rapidly growing enterprise. The company opened a new facility near downtown Fresno, which was recognized at the time as the "finest factory building west of Detroit."
In 1964, further modernization of processes and growth of the cooperative lead to the construction of, and move to, a new facility in neighboring Kingsburg. This new location was voted one of America’s top new plants by Factory Magazine that year.Original packaging of Sun-Maid raisins featuring Lorraine Collett as the Sun-Maid Girl
In 2006, the iconic Sun-Maid girl was brought to life through computer-animated television commercials in which she walks and talks for the first time in her history. The commercials were designed and produced by Synthespian Studios.
Today, Sun-Maid is the largest raisin and dried fruit processor worldwide, and offers a full line of dried fruit products such as prunes, apricots, cranberries, apples, dates, tropical fruits, figs, and many others. The company sells its products to consumers and industrial customers in more than 60 countries around the globe, and maintains extensive brand licensing and food service operations.
The Promotion in Motion Companies, Inc., under license from Sun-Maid®, also produces a Sun-Maid Milk Chocolate Covered Raisin.