The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) went all out to highlight the 100 year anniversary of highbush blueberries. Here is Agricultural Section Chief, Garth Thorburn presenting a wonderful 100 year salute at a trade reception held June 24, 2016 in Taipei.
Here is one for all of you blueberry mascot fans. In the mid 1990s the North American Blueberry Council developed a targeted ad campaign in Japan featuring our own Mr. Baseball! As you all know, baseball is the national sport of Japan and at the time of the ad, there were more than 10 million amateur baseball teams in the country! Mr. Baseball challenged baseball players to write in for a free sample of dried blueberries. More than 160,000 small samples were distributed and advertisements ran in the top two baseball magazines in Japan.
At the end of the season we received hundreds of notes from players claiming that their batting averages rose on account of the blueberry consumption. NABC also provided blueberry samples to the hugely popular Hanshin Tigers professional team in Osaka. Most important, the Blueberry Guy (me) got some front row VIP seats at a Tigers-Giants game at Koshien Stadium!
USHBC was front and center at the recently held Food Taipei exposition held June 22-25, 2016.
The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) featured the Blueberry Centennial in a press release which was published in media outlets across the land. See the post on the AIT Facebook page which featured a special visit and toast by the Deputy Administrator and USDA-FAS staff in Taipei. The show was a big hit and lots of interest by Taiwanese companies for frozen and dried blueberries!
Food Taipei is the most important food exposition in Taiwan, and this year USHBC highlighted the 100 year anniversary of Highbush Blueberries. USHBC has worked in Taiwan for the past 20 years and much of our success in the region can be attributed to the pioneering work of Millie Hsia aka. “Blueberry Millie.” The blueberry legacy continues with Millie’s two daughters Mandy and Melody at working the trade.
We all know how important mascots are in Asia! Just look at that lovable “Blue-Me” in South Korea jumping around grocery stores luring customers to the blueberry display!
Here is a blast from the past: Remember our dear “Dr. Blueberry from the 1990s?”
Although some claimed he looked more like a blue squid — just about all got the message!
Here is a photo of “dried blueberries” from an exhibition in China! Was told they came from the west. They turned out to be dried black grapes. They were selling for 1/5 the price of real!
Here is the concept: China is a nation of 1.3 billion. Each family buys at least one birthday cake each year! This is a land of small and medium sized bakeries. How do they receive ingredients. Just like their peers in the USA, they are supplied by vast networks of bakery supply companies who sell flour, eggs, sugar and specialty ingredients like blueberries. Bakers are too busy to shop each day and they rely on thee important channel partners to connect.
USHBC is connecting with the Chinese bakery suppliers from throughout China who visited the USA the week of June 5-10 as part of a USDA-Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS) trade mission led by the Agricultural Trade Office (ATO) Shanghai.
A group of eight important bakery suppliers and ingredient importers first visited the Dairy-Deli-Bakery Exposition in Houston and then onto the Central Valley of California where they experienced blueberries first hand. Many thanks to the Murray Family Farm in Bakersfield where the group experienced blueberry production, picked blueberries and enjoyed the 100 F heat!
The group left with a positive understanding of blueberries and in the end we charted our plans for promotions and further activities in the booming China bakery sector!
Thanks to Susan Zhang, Marketing Specialist for the USDA-FAS ATO in Shanghai for bringing these new blueberry friends to California!
Stop number two: a group of Chinese dried fruit and nut buyers visiting the USA sponsored by the USDA-Foreign Agriculture Service Agriculture Trade Office (ATO) Beijing toured the hot hot Central Valley. On June 7, they headed to Porterville and Thomas Creek Farms where they received a briefing and farm tour. The buyers had some familiarity with dried blueberries from back home and were amazed to see the real thing.
“Imposter” dried blueberries are found throughout China–dried black grapes that look like dried blueberries. The group got a chance to taste and see the real thing! Companies gave great input on how we can work together in China to highlight real blueberries!
One very important take-away from the visit — the Chinese consumer is very concerned with food safety, and look to the USA as a safe sourcing haven for high value and high quality dried fruits.
Many thanks to Karen Avinelis and Scott Mabs of Thomas Creek Farms for the arrangements and great farm tour!
In 2015, more than 3.6 million lbs of USA dried blueberries were shipped to China and Hong Kong. Here is a photo of Chinese dried fruit and nut buyers who are traveling the USA on a USDA-FAS sponsored trade mission to Georgia and California. The group stopped in Alma, Georgia, the blueberry capital of the state and saw blueberry production for the first time! They were amazed at what they saw and this familiarity with our crop will help grow the business in the future. Next stop — California.
Source: US Customs It takes 3.5 lbs of frozen or fresh blueberries to product one lb of dried-infused blueberry. The dried 3.6 million lbs of dried blueberries to China utilized 12.6 million lbs of fresh and frozen blueberries! (Note: much of the HK production ends up in Guangdong Province, China.