Since formation, USHBC has been actively seeking ways that highbush blueberries fit into the combat feeding programs of the US Armed Forces. Our nation operates a system to feed soldiers all over the world. This includes combat and garrison feeding. This also includes a whole range of other feeding channels including disaster assistance, aid, emergency feeding and other needs. (They also source fresh produce for the USDA Foods program).
The main provider — the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) is the hub which gets the foodstuffs into the field. It works with a network of prime contractors who are qualified to produce or organize shipments and also surge supplies for major needs. This process requires long range planning, and the Armed forces is always looking for ways to make things better. With this, they operate one of the most sophisticated research and development laboratories in the world at Natick, Mass. Fort Lee in Virginia is headquarters of the Armed Forces Quartermaster Corps who do all from logistics to serving. It is also headquarters of the Award Winning Army Culinary Team.
All products sold into the US Armed forces channel must be produced and processed in the USA.
The soldiers in the field set the tempo for what is needed, and research and development fills this need and works with prime vendors or processors. In 2017 more than $200 million in rations contracts were awarded by the US Armed Forces.
How does USHBC participate? We have been members of an organization called the Research and Development Associates. This is an organization where Military, Government, Academia and Industry get together for fulfilling the needs. Each year, two conferences are held where the Armed Forces report from the field on what is needed. For example this includes nutrition, variety, specific dietary needs and performance.
Prime vendors include specialized companies who have the right equipment and capabilities for the rigorous demands of military feeding. Items must be packed in a manner to service three years at 80 degree F.
These meetings are also an opportunity to suggest new items for testing and to join research and development collaborations.
USHBC is a long standing member, so we are involved in committees, and whenever possible we recommend various blueberry formats, products and inclusions.
Categories for development:
- Meals Ready to Eat (MRE)
- First Strike Rations (FSR) High Caloric, high energy for special ops and attack
- Special meals for Religious dietary needs.
- National Guard Rations
- Humanitarian Daily Rations (HDR)
- Unitized Group Rations (UGR) For setting up field serving.
- Survival Rations
- Abandon Ship Rations
- Aircraft Survival Rations
- Performance Readiness Bard
The Blueberry Granola with Milk utilizes lots of freeze dried blueberries. When mixed with water it is like a home style granola.
Blueberry retort pouch baked rations with blueberry and fillings
Infused dried blueberries
Freeze dried blueberries
Blueberry purees in sauces
More in the works!
If you have any ideas or suggestions for rations, let me know!
Now that we are all inspired by Korea “Mascot Mania,” let’s take a look at the market.
US Shipments of highbush blueberries to South Korea: 1999 = 0 lbs. 2016 = 9.6 million lbs.
The market has cooled off since 2016 with lots of competition and political and economic instability, but we are battling back with hard work and creative promotions. Korea is still a top export destination for frozen blueberries and a legacy USHBC can be proud of.
1999 – the year before USHBC was formed
0 kg of frozen highbush blueberries shipped to South Korea.
USHBC conducted its first marketing activity in 2002 which was a blueberry health seminar run in conjunction with cherries. We started talking about the emerging new research on blueberries and antioxidants from the USA.
2004 – These are the times that try men’s souls… Thomas Paine 1776
195,903 kg (431,892 lbs.) of US frozen highbush blueberries shipped to South Korea.
USHBC faithfully attended the yearly Food and Hotel Korea exposition. It was a lonely booth and the talk of the town was lemons, pomegranates and black raspberries. Koreans are very trend oriented and tend to go from one to another. One of the large Japanese trading companies sent a young staff to the show in 2007 to check out market prospects. He sent a report back to HQ that “there was little or no potential for frozen blueberries in South Korea.”
2007 – The Start of Blueberry Fever
750,298 kg (1.65 million lbs.) of US frozen highbush blueberries shipped to South Korea
Late one evening we received a call from MBC, the largest TV network in Korea. Their research staff had read details on Dr. James Joseph at Tuft’s University. They were planning a segment on a popular news program which runs prime time. Guest hosts would be two of the most influential food and health experts in Korea. We hustled film, background details and graphics. Note the USHBC materials in the background. Blueberries were on the way to stardom!
Between 2011 and 2015 shipments of USA frozen blueberries soared from 1.3 million kg (2.86 million lbs.) to 4.42 million kg (9.7 million lbs.)
This is a 239% increase!
Rather than retreat from the market in 2005, USHBC picked up the pace of promotions. We engaged the trade. Our excellent marketing contractor KBSI in Seoul implemented creative programs to keep the momentum going. This included our wonderful mascot, beauty related promotions and continual work with the trade.
Building the Market. We returned to Food and Hotel Korea year to year and launched activities towards the Korean food industry. Our FoodTech Ambassador, Sunyong Lee seems to know everyone in the food business and new products with blueberries soared. In 2018 new products with blueberries have risen +14.5% over 2017.
2017-2018 – Competition!
In Korea, food trends normally last 3-4 years. We have beaten the odds. Blueberries are here to stay. After a 200% gain in the past decade, there have been twists and turns in the market.
-New origin suppliers have come into the market, and have taken significant amount of the hard earned polybag market. One major supply country has a 0% duty and to the buyer this is a discount compared to the USA product that until March 14, 2018 has had duty. (was reduced in-year-to-year stages)
-Frozen mangos were the trendy fruit for the last two years and occupied a lot of our hard earned freezer space.
-South Korea has been through major political and economic turmoil in the past years with change of government, marches in the streets and a unsettling situation with the DPRK (North Korea)
Moving Forward. The key to export marketing is persistence. Our FoodTech program continues to work the Korean food industry. We find that manufacturers appreciate our frozen product. New opportunities exist in further processed ingredient solutions such as dried blueberries, purees, juice concentrate and powders.
USHBC FoodTech is on the move in Korea for the long run!
Note: All Statistics provided were copied from screen shots of the Global Trade Information Service and are from US Census.
USHBC is a member and participant in the American Commodity Distribution Association(ACDA). The organization will meet in Minneapolis, April 30 to May 1, 2018. USHBC FoodTech will be there. (schedule) This is an organization which brings together the key stakeholders of the $1.4 billion USDA Foods program.
Commodity Processing: According to USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) — over half of all commodity purchases are diverted to further processing by school districts. This means instead of receiving frozen blueberries, the school can agree with a manufacturer to receive frozen blueberries and make blueberry muffins (as an example). The school can combine with other USDA Food ingredients. It is a win-win situation for processors and schools. Currently, there are 38 USDA Foods commodity items that are available for further processing and 100 processors participating in the program. Source: USDA Food and Nutrition Service Food Distribution Fact Sheet, March 2018.
Back to ACDA: USHBC FoodTech has several objectives for attending ACDA.
- Agriculture: Representatives of other commodity organizations with interest in USDA Foods will attend. Meetings with the Agricultural committee will include commodity representatives like USHBC and also USDA staffers involved in fruit and vegetable purchases. We involve, listen, learn and report back to USHBC/NABC HQ.
- Industry: this is the main reason for USHBC FoodTech participation. Industry meetings will include commodity processors which will include some of the leading food processing companies in the USA as well as medium and small companies who specialize in commodity processing. These companies are eager to learn about commodities such as blueberries.
- Government. High level government officials from USDA will attend ACDA and the main event is the government presentations which provide the very latest information on the programs. For USHBC FoodTech, we make sure that the government knows we are there and involved in the process.
- Community. These are the recipients of USDA Foods and includes school districts, humanitarian feeding organizations and others. At these meetings, we connect with users, talk blueberries, and learn of the needs and wants of the schools. We also gain knowledge of amazing case studies of successful use of commodity foods.
Will post more when back from ACDA!
The USHBC strategic plan challenges us to go out and find new markets and uses for US Highbush Blueberries. This includes looking ahead for potentially lucrative emerging markets abroad.
Introducing Myanmar. Most of us know of this Southeast Asian country of 55 Million as “Burma.” It was a former British colony and gained independence in 1948 to become Burma and then Myanmar. When we read about this country, we often think of military government and control, civil wars in remote regions based on ethnic and religious conflicts. Although there are 55 million in population, much of the wealth is at the top of the population pyramid.
The Blueberry Song: Strange-but-true, a popular pop song titled “Blueberry” was ultra-hit in 2008. Today it is one of the most requested songs at karaoke parlors all over the country!
For Market Development
Myanmar shows some interesting characteristics:
- With a former British legacy, there is still some understanding of blueberry and blueberry jams and jelly.
- Grocery chains such as City Mart are popping up in the metropolitan regions and have fresh produce displays including chilled sections. Imported blueberries are found during the year and are quite popular.
- Myanmar has a booming food industry with available raw materials and work force. This is drawing food industries from Korea and Japan.
North American Blueberry Council (NABC) has requested USDA-APHIS to begin market access work to allow fresh USA blueberries into Myanmar.
USHBC’s FoodTech in the region will visit the Food Myanmar Exposition in Fall 2018.
Plans are underway for conducting market assessments of the Myanmar food industry in 2019
Somebody asked me today, what’s up with Hana in HCM City? Besides publishing a blueberry technical brochure, attending foodservice promotion, and designing new booth for the upcoming Food Ingredients Vietnam (FIV). The phone rings and she was invited to present at a beverage seminar in conjunction with the show. Beverages are a big business in steamy Vietnam and we are approaching dairy and fruit juice companies with USA blueberry ingredient solutions.
Here is Hana’s Presentation!
Plot: The film’s plot is based on a Gujarati Play by the same name. Amitabh Bachchan plays a 102-year-old man and Rishi Kapoor his his 75-year-old son. The plot revolves around the 102-year-old man trying to break the record for the oldest person in the world, held in the movie by a Chinese man. One of the main themes has to do with the duo changing diet and shopping for anti-aging associated foods such as dried blueberries. Yes, they really do go shopping and pick up dried blueberries in the film!
Rostaa, a supplier of dried blueberries was quick to team up with the film and below you will see a country-wide promotion for their product with a grand prize of a meeting with the star!
Here is the online contest solicitation:
How did it all happen. Our man in Delhi, Raj Kapoor — not to be confused with the famous actor — met up with Rostaa five years ago at a trade show. I remember as at the time the mantra was “too expensive!” Most dried fruits are sold in traditional dried fruit markets and are a low cost commodity. Rostaa has been cooperating with USHBC on promotions, exhibitions and market development in the food industry. Business has grown and they are selling all over this country of 1.3 billion. Congratulations to Rostaa. Congratulations to Raj and all of USHBC who continue to make things happen around the world!
The excitement is building in Seoul.
No, I am not referring to the governmental Summit — but the Seoul Food and Hotel Exposition (SFH) which will be held May 1-4 in Ilsan. Last year, our Korea Food Tech began exploring market development opportunities in the savory area. That is — not too sweet! Koreans love all things spicy, garlic and pickled! (The national dish is fermented cabbage called Kimche!)
So far, great reception, and some of the leading sauce and prepared entrée companies have shown interest. Who knows in the future blueberry Kinchee will be a household item!
Here is a pickled blueberry concept we are sampling at the SFH. It is adapted from a 1960s North American Blueberry Council (NABC) book.
- (bapsang, 밥상) A bapsang is a table for serving meals and snacks. In Korean culture, sitting on a mat with a bapsang is a very important social activity with family or friends. It normally includes dozens of small side dishes and of course piles of kimchee!
- No bapsang is complete without beverages — of course including Korean beer–but more likely Soju (소주 ), a vodka-like beverage made from rice, barley or sweet potato. Another favorite is Makgeolli (막걸리) a milky sake-like beverage. Sunyong is also working on blueberry addition to these two beverages!
- Besides a swirl made with real blueberry puree, it contains real frozen blueberries.
- The base is made from coconut milk
- The background flavor is cardamom
“Spice things up. Bright blueberries, a little cardamom spice and coconuts make a delicious flavor combo in our creamy coconut milk frozen dessert”
The excitement is building for the USHBC participation in the Food Ingredients Vietnam Exposition which will be held May 16-18 in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. This is a trade-only event and will bring together food manufacturers and suppliers from throughout the region. Vietnam has a booming food industry and we will meet some of the largest dairy, candy and baking companies from all over the long country. Hana, our food technologist in Vietnam has been asked to present a seminar at a beverage conference at the event!
How are things going in Southeast Asia: Lets take a ride!
So, you did not make it to Global Pet Expo (GPE), 2018 held March 21-23 in Orlando, Florida. Well, no worry — check out this video on all of the action. Blueberries on the labels, in the products and on the minds now of the product developers.
Infused dried blueberries are a hit in India!
139,000 kg of infused dried blueberries were legally imported into India in 2017 according to the Fruit and Treenuts Statistics published online by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Economic Research Service (ERS) Screen shots provided as well as the source.
- USHBC began market development in India in 2008 when zero were imported.
- This amounts to 486,000 lbs. of dried blueberries
- Today at least 25 companies are packing consumer dried blueberries and product is also used in restaurants and foodservice as well as cookie and biscuit manufacturing.
- It took 1.21 million lbs. of frozen blueberries to produce the dried blueberries which were exported to India. (based on 3.5 to 1)
- Initially when Raj Kapoor started work on this sector, there was no interest from dried fruit traders. Now, it is described as hot!
Indian packed dried blueberries are now being shipped to countries around the region including the Persian Gulf.
- Now, one after another — dry blueberry packers are signing up for use of the real blueberries seal to ensure that the customers know this is authentic.
- Recently at the Gulfood show in Dubai, I met with dozens of Indian dried blueberry customers and all said they were introduced by Raj!
Congratulations to Raj Kapoor, our man in Delhi for a job well done!
Here is the information from the US Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service ERS. They receive their data from US Customs. Below is the actual screen shot.
Here are some of the actual people who purchase dried blueberries from the USA who were introduced by USHBC! These shots taken at the AAHAR exhibition recently.
Something is happening here…
Check out the number of new beauty and personal care products around the world which are identified with blueberries!