While the attention of the athletic world was on the Olympic Games in Rio — the regional food industry met at the 20th annual Food Ingredients Exposition (FI). This was a trade only show and some of the leading multinational and Brazilian ingredient firms participated. Food manufacturers large and small from Brazil attended to seek out new ingredient solutions and opportunities.
Lots of companies interested in frozen blueberries. Brazil is the leading sugar producing country and a number of firms are producing jams and jellies with blueberries. They like the soft-skinned and juicy blueberries from North America.
Here is a photo of our booth emphasizing the Blueberry Centennial.
Here is the first day booth action. Katia Miura who works for us in Latin America met with her food industry colleagues. She has a degree in Food Engineering and dozens of her contacts in the business stopped in to discuss blueberries! We sampled a local favorite — a blueberry brigadero which is a caramel sweet with a blueberry filling. It was a big hit!
This was a grueling show that started mid morning and ended at 8 pm! That is the Brazilian way!
Now after a day of non-stop blueberry talk — it is caipirinha time! This is my favorite — the caipirinha “Volcano!” We also met up with a famous bartender at the show who is intent on producing a signature blueberry caipirinha!
Market access for US fresh blueberries is a process that involves working with the import country to help them gain understanding and comfort for our product. Two years ago, North American Blueberry Council (NABC) requested the USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to contact their counterparts in the Republic of South Africa Department of Agricultural Forestry and Fisheries Plant Production and Health department.
Since then we have shared information on US fresh blueberries to help them gain knowledge necessary to evaluate fresh blueberries for access into their country. South Africa is a major agricultural producer and like the USA, they have a very rigid inspection system to ensure the protection of local agriculture from pests and diseases from the outside.
The process is in the works and August 16, a delegation from South Africa visited Hammonton New Jersey along with their APHIS peers to see production and packing first hand. Many thanks to Atlantic Blueberry for taking the time and providing the excellent tour. Of course — we stopped at Joe Italianio’s Maple Wood Inn in Hammonton for lunch and the “World’s Best Spaghetti” which is now a legend in South Africa as well. Thank you to the wonderful group of South African scientists who traveled from the other side of the planet to continue the market access process.
Ichido is one of the top bakery chains in all of East China and a trendsetter. USHBC is participating with a one month promotion where Ichido research and development bakers developed nine new blueberry items. They were introduced at the August 18 kickoff at company headquarters and will be featured at outlets all over China.
Here are some photos from the big event:
USHBC is partnering with USDA-ATO and Ichodo Bakeries for a USA ingredient promotion titled: American Seasons. Frozen and Dried Blueberries are used in nine products. Concept: USHBC and USDA- ATO Shanghai linked the chain with local suppliers of dried and frozen blueberries. Ichido developed nine new items for use in 80 stores throughout the country. After the kickoff on August 18, stores will include posters and informational brochures and sampling of blueberry products.
Ichido’s was founded in 1999 and is specialized in manufacturing desserts, cakes, coffee and bakery products. It has about 80 stores, and 1,200 employees in China. Ichido’s has been adhering to quality and innovation. Ichido’s provides its pastry chefs opportunities for training in overseas countries several times a year, and has been inviting a number of world-class master chefs to visit Shanghai and provide training and demons to its chef team. With years of hard work the brand “Ichido” has become very popular among Chinese consumers pursuing quality bakery products. Headquartered in Shanghai, Ichido’s has expanded its outlets to Nanjing, Suzhou, Wuxi, Hangzhou, Xi’an, Beijing, and Tianjin. Ichido’s enjoy steady growth on their business with independent stores, as well as cooperation with department stores and subway stations.
In the USA we often think of frozen burritos, slurpees and taco chips when it comes to convenience store cuisine! Check out the blueberry items at the Japanese convenience store chains: Interesting that the 125 g micro pack of frozen fruit is becoming one of the top selling items!
Schools across the nation receive frozen blueberries from USDA Foods programs. This is an important way for the blueberry industry to reach the customers of tomorrow. What happens once the product reaches the state warehouses? A good portion of the goods enter what is called the commodity processing channel.
- Food processors in various states work are registered and accepted by as commodity processors. That is — they have the ability to receive truckloads of various commodities such as frozen blueberries, produce finished products. Most importantly, they have the ability to account for the dispersion into the school systems where they sell. It is not an easy task — but it must be worthwhile as some of the leading food processing companies in the nation are involved.
- School districts purchase very reasonably priced finished goods such as muffins, fruit pies, and the latest — fruit cups and frozen ice bars!
It is a win win situation. In most cases the companies involved in the school processing also purchase frozen blueberries from packers for schools as well. Here are a few new blueberry items featured at the recent School Nutrition Association (SNA) annual meeting in San Antonio:
Check out the mascot-endorsed blueberry juice in Japan. The mascot is pure Kawaii!!!
Several months back some of the major US food companies announced that they would replace artificial colors and flavors with natural. Here is the result: General Mills flavors this delicious “Tiny Toast” with blueberry powder! Remember — it takes 12 ounces of blueberries to make one ounce of blueberry powder. You can really taste the delicious blueberry flavor in each spoonful.
Check out the “Real Blueberry” identification on the box!
Now here is an interesting product from the land of the morning calm!
Blueberry Lavender Ice Cream
- Type: Ice Cream
- Price: KRW2,700/ Single Corn
- Company: Natuur Pop (Lotteria Co. Ltd.)
- Blueberry: N/A
Note: A premium ice cream brand, Nattur Pop, operated by Lotteria Co., Ltd. introduces seasonal flavor, Blueberry Lavender as the signature menu for July. According to the company, more Korean consumers prefer to have healthy and nature-friendly lifestyles, even for foods. And, blueberries and lavenders have been regarded as “healing” foods because of good recognitions by local consumers and the company choose this flavor as July’s signature menu.
Kawaii, Kawaii — it the word at the Japan Bakery and Pastry Exhibition in Tokyo August 1-3. Kawaii means cute in Japanese. Will blue me join the likes of Hello Kitty in the Kawai popularity show. With summer temperatures in the 90F and humidity 90 — the blueberry mascot fans were a big hit at the bakery show. This year, 30,000 bakery and pastry artists and suppliers have converged on the Tokyo Big Site to see what’s new. Frozen and dried blueberries are a hit for bakery, pastry and gelato which is a big deal in Japan. All we can say is: “Kawaii!”