May 2018 – New Blueberry Product of the Month

This may not use a lot of blueberries — but it is a unique application with potential for more development in the processed meat category.

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Chennai US Blueberry Roadshow

Chennai Roadshow Team: USDA-USHBC!

In the field Action – Chennai, Tamil Nadu.

USHBC continually takes the highbush blueberry message to the widespread regions of India.  This month we participated in a “Roadshow” event sponsored by the USDA-Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) India.  Over the past years, they have been extremely helpful with events such as this. Chennai is especially important as it is a trendsetting South-Indian region which is always on the leading edge of food product innovations.

 

 

Welcome to the Chennai Roadshow!

Local Connections. Raj talks dried blueberries with visitors from the local trade.  The gentleman with the Real Seal on his shirt is a sales person from a company who is rolling out frozen blueberries in the region.  We always link our activities with local suppliers, as most food companies are not able to export full loads directly.   Currently we have a solid local list of around 50 supplier companies who actively participate with USHBC activities.

Blueberry Ice Cream Sampling.  Ms. Jeanne F. Bailey, Minister Counselor for Agricultural Affairs and  Adam Branson, Senior Agricultural Attaché for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) in India. FAS has been extremely helpful to USHBC for the past decade!

Blueberry Innovators!  Mr. K. Thrinath Kumar of Ajantha KTK products in Chennai proudly featured his launched 50Gram pack of dried US blueberries at the event!  It is very important to have local connections.

The Future. Food Science and Technology students from a local university attend and check out the blueberry booth.   We welcome the students as they are the future customers!

New Product Introduction!   We invited a local innovator firm called Berrylicious to share out booth.  This company from the neighbour State of Karnataka is a leader in this region of innovation.   The company is from Bengaluru which was formerly called Bangalore.  This city is known as one of the “Silicon Valleys” of South India.

Meet the new “Super Chef.”  Johnathan of the Hotel Taj, Chennai.  USHBC participated in a chef seminar where a local celebrity chef demonstrated items containing blueberries.  It’s all about entertainment to get the attention and awareness!   This fellow did a great job!  I especially admired the way he talked down a rude fellow in the audience who continually talked with his buddy.

 


SIAL China Update

USHBC exhibited at the recent SIAL China Exposition May 16-18 2018 in Shanghai.

The big news– six USA blueberry firms were present!  Julia and Mandy staffed the booth and delivered decades of blueberry experience to the attendees!

We had a great booth location and lots of interest.

Here are some of the excellent USA products shown at the SIAL China!

Take Away: Dried blueberries are hot!

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Freeze dried blueberries (front)
Freeze dried blueberries (back)
Attractive packaging. Lan Mei is the Chinese word for blueberry.
Whole blueberries! Made in the USA label!
Graceland fruit is available all over China through internet sales
Here is an example of USA origin branding!
One big bag, with small inside bags.

Hana’s excellent visit to the Mall of Asia Manila

Store Check Time – Manila:  One of Hana’s tasks in her Philippine visit is to check out the stores, look for blueberry products and opportunities.   Now here we are at the SM Mall of Asia, one of the largest shopping malls in the world!   If you are wondering what SM stands for — it is “Shoe Mart.”  Started out as a shoe shop and now one of the largest retailers in the Philippines!

  • 600 shops
  • 200 restaurants
  • at least 500 mascots!

We have discovered Mascot Paradise.  Never have we seen so many mascots on parade.   Each of the shops and restaurants has a mascot including the Giant blue Elephant mascot of the SM.

Normally we can get some photos and video, but Hana learned immediately that this could be difficult.  As she said — all of the guards were carrying machine guns (AK-47s to be exact).   In the Philippines — wherever there is money, there are armed guards!

What we see: 

  • Filipinos love sweets.  You will find jams, jellies and blueberry sweets.  In fact one buyer told us they wanted to see more sweetness in our dried blueberries.  I have never heard this before!
  • Most stores have refrigerated produce sections and fresh blueberries can be found from time to time
  • Foodservice is massive.  Filipinos like to eat outside of the home.
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Hana is ready to shop!
One of the largest malls in the world and they are in many cities of the Philippines.
Mascot Parade and the Giant blue Elephant mascot of the SM.

Myanmar – Asia’s Fastest Growing Market.  
As the fastest growing economy in Southeast Asia, Myanmar continues to experience widespread development and is now at the forefront of business plans for international exporters from around the world. The remarkable recent expansion seen in Myanmar’s tourism, retail, hospitality and F&B industries means there is more demand than ever for exporters to focus on their export plans in The Golden Land.

With a forecast GDP growth of over 7% for the next 3 years, and a median age of just 27 years old Myanmar offers a huge number of opportunities to companies focusing on the market now. Continued growth means that the people of Myanmar have more disposable income, which in turn has meant increased demand for restaurants, fast food outlets, coffee shops and bakeries. The young population are educated, tech-savvy and well informed about international cuisine, and eager to see even more international food and beverage products and brands.

Tourism is also a key factor of Myanmar’s forecast growth, as the country sees continued development in its airports, travel infrastructure and hotels in order to accommodate an ever-increasing demand from international arrivals. A result of this is even more international flavors bring brought into Myanmar, and of course a huge injection of outside investment.

Immediate Action!

Our Southeast Asian FoodTech Hana will visit the upcoming Food and Hotel Myanmar exposition in June to survey the market and make contacts.   We anticipate launching a market assessment and other activities in the new year.  This could be interesting!


Ingredient Evolution – India!

Oops! Wrong Raj Kapoor

Here is the presentation which Raj Kapoor will give to 100 food manufacturers in Chennai this weekend.  We will also have a super chef giving a demonstration on the perfect blueberry muffin!

 

Good morning, and welcome to the US Highbush Blueberry Council presentation The USHBC represents 3,500 blueberry growers in 33 states. Our mission: to build demand for highbush blueberries. This includes; research – health, production and marketing; conducting market development activities for consumer, foodservice and food industry. We also have worked for two decades on building the market for fresh, frozen and further processed blueberries.

Elizabeth White’s dream resulted in the global business . Today highbush blueberries are produced in more than 38 blueberry states in the USA and two provinces of Canada. They are also produced in the Southern Hemisphere and Asia. All of the highbush blueberry varieties produced now in China are a result of Elizabeth White’s work a century ago.

It all began in 1916 when the first highbush blueberries were brought to market after extensive research and development by USDA Scientist Frederick Coville and Farmer Elizabeth White.   Before this time, highbush blueberries were found only in the forest and took great efforts to obtain and hand pick.   Coville and White experimented and learned how to cultivate the forest blueberries.  Elizabeth gave a bounty to hunters in the area who could bring back big beautiful blueberries for cultivation.   In 1916 Elizabeth’s dream came true and highbush blueberries were shipped to markets.   

 

Here is a modern blueberry field today in New Jersey.  The berries on the left are from the Pacific Northwest at a farm of the Berry King, who I have personally visited.  Note the high yields of big beautiful blueberries that are on the bushes.  They grow well because of the forest like acidic soils, perfect spacing which allows for mechanical harvesting.  China lacks acidic soils and organic matter necessary to produce large scale blueberry plantations in much of the country.

Here is the general overview of the health benefits: they are low in fat, a good source of fiber, packed with vitamin C  which helps collagen formation and are an excellent source of Manganese which play an important role in bone development and in converting proteins, carbohydrates and fats into energy.

Here are the major research areas being pursued at this time including cardiovascular health, brain health, insulin response and cancer research.   Keep tuned to the USHBC web site for more information.

Now to formats.  This is my area of expertise as a food scientist.   Here is a view of the main formats used in the world food industry.   Frozen is a mainstay in the production of jams, jellies and bakery products, fillings and sauces.  Frozen blueberries come in individually quick frozen form where individual berries are required.  They are sized as well to meet product specifications.   Another form is case frozen which is – as the name implies – frozen in the case.  This product is used often in making jams jellies and sauces for yogurts and ice creams.  Next we have purees and puree concentrates.  This is the form that is used most often in dairy applications.  Juice Concentrate is a 65 Brix normally and now there are 70 brix which are shelf stable.  This is the main product used in fruit juices.   Dehydrated blueberries are a major market segment in Asia.   The main product is a sugar-infused dried blueberry which is about 15-18 percent moisture.   Apple juice infused are also available.  It takes about 3.5 kg of frozen or fresh blueberries to make one kg of dried.   Natural, non-infused dried blueberries are also available as well as freeze dried and microwave dried blueberries.   A new area includes diced, sized and “Crumbled” blueberries which work well where smaller size is important.  Finally, we have a booming new category that is certainly of interest to India– powders, fibers and pomace.   Powder is made from milled freeze dried blueberries and contains the whole berry.   Blueberry pomace which is the by product of juice pressing and puree making – is used to further dry to make fiber and also for extraction of pigments.    This is a huge business in Asia and more and more product is available in the future.

Now what is next.  You saw from my bio that I am working on combat rations for the armed forces and also space foods for NASA.   Check out the photo on the right – ae there already blueberries on Mars.  Just a joke.

Blueberry product development is rising all over Asia.  We have technical resources all in place in several countries including India.

We believe that India and other countries in the region will continue to appreciate blueberries and the new product statistics are impressive.

We have seen impressive growth of US blueberry imports to India — especially with dried and frozen product.

 

 

Here is the first nationwide frozen polybag — note the Real Seal!

You know your product is a success when you get Mr. Bollywood to endorse!

Throughout Asia, a major demand determinant is a consumer perceived attachment to beauty and skin care.

One problem we have with success is that others will imitate.  This is why the Real Seal is so important.  If you have a blueberry containing product — tell the world that it is real.

Here is our advertisement back in the USA!

Here is where to reach me!  


Hana Goes to Manila

Mabuhay from Manila.

Southeast Asian dynamo Hana is on the move this week to the Sunny Islands of the Philippines.  She is attending the IFEX exhibition in Manila and meeting with local importers, suppliers and end users of blueberries.  The Philippines has a massive food industry and more and more companies are connecting for blueberries.

Some initial observations:

  • Filipinos like it sweet!  The Philippines are a major sugar producing country and they like their products sweet.  They love the sugar infused dried blueberries
  • The Philippines are a vast country and food manufacturing is spread out all over the hundreds of islands.
  • Best prospects so far are for dried and case frozen blueberries for jams and jellies.
  • Filipino foodservice brands are spread out all over Asia with Jollybee, Chow King and others growing in popularity and are even found in the USA.

Go get ’em Hana!

Hana makes a new friend in the Philippine food industry


Seminar Tamil Nadu

Just in case you happen to be in South India on May 28, stop in and attend a USHBC seminar in Chennai.  The event sponsored by the USDA in Mumbai, this event will bring in food processors from all over the booming province of 68 million.   The ever-popular Raj Kapoor will wow the crowd with his blueberry magic and serve Blueberry Dosai!

Each month Raj visits food processors in his home in Delhi and to regions all over India.  The Southern states have developing food industries and home of many of the largest food companies in all of India.

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The red spots are bettlenut juice -- a local favorite!

Wow!  It works.  Here is the QR code which Taiwanese shoppers see when they visit the fresh blueberry space at their local Jason’s or Wellcome!   Pull out the smart phone and scan and you are immediately linked to the USHBC Taiwan website and a greeting from our very own Doc Blueberry, Wei Yang of Oregon State University.

Wei tells the customer about the great are we take in the USA to ensure that our blueberries are safe as well as sweet!   Doc Blueberry is a celebrity of sorts in Greater China.   He is the inventor of the name Chinese apply to blueberries — “Lan Mei!”

蓝 莓

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Doc Blueberry

Followup, Followup, Followup

The “trifecta” of food industry expositions in Asia is complete for May 2018!  Now the work begins.

Our objective to stimulate acceptance and sales of highbush blueberries in the global food industry.  To do this we go into the markets and conduct activities to:

It is not a quick process like a consumer choice at the supermarket.  For a food manufacturer to invest in a new product or new ingredient.  Most of our activities are designed to raise awareness for US highbush blueberries.  In export markets where there is strong competition, we work to differentiate our product.  This often means presenting ingredient solutions such as dried, liquid and other formats.  For frozen, we promote the functionality of US blueberries which work well in so many applications such as fruit preparations, jams and jellies.

At the exposition our skilled Blueberry Food Tech representatives make things interesting.  They know their stuff and the food industry appreciates this.  Most commodity organizations utilize “rent-a-staff” who merely pass out brochures.  We are there to add value to the proposition!

USHBC FoodTech in Korea, Sunyong Lee has 50+ years of experience in the Asian food industry.

Business cards from China Bakery Exposition 2018

We meet hundreds of visitors.  Some are already buyers, some looking for specific items and some just looking for advice.   We sit down, talk and follow-up with the answers.

Now, to the magic word: “leads.”  At each exposition, seminar or meeting — we inevitably meet up with companies who are ready to source.  We make very sure we are not interfering with someone else’s current business.  We check out the company, look at web site, analyze the request.  You can tell a lot from a business card, and a lot from the type of request given.  We try not to waste the time of our packers back home!

Expositions: We are on a mission!

We categorize the leads by product needed.   Then we create a report with the business cards in English and foreign language with background information.  Nowadays in China fewer and fewer companies are leaving cards and have transitioned to We Chat social media.   We take care of these too.

The report is posted on a drop box, where all companies who are on the USHBC suppliers list by choice are given access.   An initial invite is made to connect.  If the company connects then regular updates are made notifying of new files or lead reports added.  In addition if companies are not able to access, they can request the details e mailed.
US packers appreciate the leads.  They followup and make sales.    Once the lead is pursued it is the customer’s lead and we protect the confidentiality of the packer and new prospect.   We do appreciate hearing from industry that are making sales in regions of the world with the initial contacts coming from our vanguard efforts.   USHBC FoodTech and our packer community make a great team!

The acronym is awkward, but the exposition excellent!   USHBC will exhibit at the upcoming IDDBE exposition in New Orleans, June 10-12, 2018 in New Orleans.

IDDBA Schedule

10,000 attendees
800 exhibitors  

This is a big event, and attendees include a wide spectrum of professionals in the dairy, baking manufactured food business from throughout the USA and abroad.  Several USDA-FAS foreign buyer trade missions will also attend and blueberries are on the agenda.

This is a great place to meet the medium sized and regional food companies.  We will see producers of yogurts, ice cream flavors, bakeries confectionery and snacks.   We will sample fresh local blueberries and the emphasis: Real Blueberries™ Seal.


Fresh Blueberry Marketing in China

A few decades ago, blueberries were unknown in China.   Now, fresh blueberries are sold nationwide and 365 days a year.   Here is an example of how a major producer, packer and marketer named Joy Wing Mau does it!

Note the We Chat QR code.  This is the main social network of China.   You can order, pay and see where the blueberries came from.

USHBC will receive a visiting delegation of Chinese food retailers on June 9, 2018 in Oregon and they will get a chance to see US fresh blueberries which hopefully will be available in China in the near future.

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Food Ingredient Vietnam

Food Ingredients (FI) Vietnam was a great success.   USHBC was one of three US exhibitors and the attendees were impressive from all over the region.

Here are some shots of our team including Hana and USDA-FAS staff from both Ho Chi Minh City and Ha Noi.  They have been extremely helpful in our market development campaign this year.

A big Cảm ơn bạn! (Thank you). More to come on FI Vietnam!

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Our good friend Mr. Kiet of FAS HCM City (A great helper to us) on left along with VIP Visitors along with Hana. Note the fans, an essential tool in this steamy climate!

Diced Dried Blueberries

Here is an interesting new twist with dried blueberries.

Manufacturers look for specific size and shapes.   Here is an example of diced blueberries which are smaller than the smallest whole and can be diced to various shapes.  This product is being used in a number of commercial cookies and biscuits which are too thin for conventional dried blueberries.