Ten Chinese grocery and online marketers visited USA blueberries on November 24 and saw one of the most unique and beautiful farms in the world! Thanks to Bill Steed and his crew at Fairfield Farms in Pauma Valley, San Diego California for the wonderful tour and sharing of knowledge. The visitors included some of the top grocery chains in China from Shenzhen, Beijing, Shanghai Chongqing and other major cities. All are anxious for the opportunity to import fresh blueberries from the USA and this familiarization visit sponsored by the USDA Cochran Fellowship Program gave them a unique opportunity to see first hand!
The Taipei Contest was held in honor of our long time Taiwan Representative Millie Hsia who was always known as “Blueberry Millie” by her peers.
While Chef John Hui was in Taiwan, he cooperated with the USDA Agricultural Trade Office to conduct a seminar for local bakers. It was a full house at the KaiPing Culinary School in Taipei and attendees learned how to make blueberry cheesecakes, health bars with dried blueberries. He concluded the days event with an exciting pulled sugar art demo!
Here is the team behind the scenes at the United Tastes of America Competition in Taipei!
The USDA-Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) in Asia are conducting the annual Chef Challenge. The concept: several of the regional Agricultural Trade Offices (ATO) in the region are in the process of hosting country culinary contests. Teams from hotels and restaurants compete in a one day competition. The winning team goes to the finals in Tokyo in the Spring.
This year, USHBC became sponsored sponsor of the Taiwan competition and participated in the event. Frozen blueberries were part of the “black box” of ingredients used by the culinary teams.
Here are some photos from the event.
Now this is big news!!!
For years there have been blueberry and bilberry extracts for sale. Most, if not all are made from European bilberries (vaccinium myrtillus).
Here is a wonderful new product from Futureceutical — Van Drunen Farms of Momence Illinois. Van Drunen has been a pioneer in the nutraceuticals area (functional food). This offering will gobble up a lot of blueberries and give buyers at home and abroad a safe choice of USA blueberries!
Random ET Sightings at the CSNA conference.
USHBC attended and exhibited at the California School Nutrition Association meeting in Ontario, California (CSNA). This is the organization which brings together school district managers and workers as well as suppliers and potential suppliers.
The blueberry industry participates in what is called USDA Foods which is a system where good-for-you ingredients such as blueberries are purchased by the USDA and distributed to individual states such as California.
School districts can receive these blueberries through the state and can use integrate frozen blueberries into items served in the schools. Amazing what these school districts can do with frozen blueberries. A number are making smoothies, yogurt parfaits and muffins
A relatively new option for larger districts is to source finished goods from what is called the Commodity Processing channel. USHBC is a member and participant in an organization called the American Commodity Distribution Association (ACDA). Large school districts can “divert” shipments of ingredients such as frozen blueberries to approved commodity processors who are either specialized bakeries, dairy, snack and other category companies. Also, some of the leading major multinational companies operate commodity processing activities to take advantage of their processing capacity to serve the schools. The concept: companies sell the finished products back to the schools minus the cost of the ingredients and this results in great cost saving for the schools.
A brand new concept is the sourcing of fresh produce into the school systems. The product is sourced through the Department of Defense channels (DOD).School districts and individual schools are also sourcing produce including blueberries from local growers and farmers markets.