Viva Costa Rica

We all know Costa Rica is a paradise!  Now this nation of 5 million is becoming an important regional food manufacturing hub.  This year Costa Rican companies imported a half million USD worth of dried, fresh and frozen USA blueberries!   June 11-13 — USHBC initiated FoodTech activities in Costa Rica with attendance at the Expohore food and hotel exposition in San Jose.


Some Facts:

Population: 5 million
>GDP Per Capita: $16,000
>Strong growth.
>Big Mac Index: $3.77 (About same as USA)
>Well developed grocery chain infrastructure with refrigerated produce sections and freezer space for frozen polybag blueberries.
>Strong Food Industry Sector with bakeries such as Bimbo, Dairy Tres Pinos and importers and suppliers for the foodservice and hotel and restaurant industries.
>With large expat communities and store chains serving them, the general public does have awareness of blueberries!


USHBC shared booth with the USDA-Foreign Agriculture Service Representative in Costa Rica who is a big fan of blueberries and so happy to work with our Latin America Food Tech Katia Miura.   Face to face interaction is important and we met with dozens of current and potential buyers and product developers.

Here is a short video of Costa Rican made blueberry products!

CR products


The national Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) is the “Superbowl” of our yearly food tech activities for the year!  This is where food product developers from all over the country and world convene for conferences and the annual Food Expo.  USHBC has a super booth in the middle of the action and for three days met with friends old and new and talked blueberry use in the food industry.

Also attending the show were packers and shippers of blueberry ingredients and we met, assisted and talked blueberries!

This year, we participated in the Food Export Association Midwest trade mission where sponsored companies attend and meet at appointments during the expo.  This year we met with companies from:

Cost Rica, Mexico, Guatemala, Japan, Colombia, Indonesia, Dominican Republic, South Korea

This year, our FoodTech from Vietnam Hana attended and helped man the booth and attend meetings.  We received a team from Vincommerce in Vietnam and organized a visit to farms in Mississippi and subsequently in California, Oregon and Washington.

Interesting developments this year:

Ingredient solutions are hot.  Items like powders, extracts, purees and concentrates are appealing to the global food industry who need ingredients for high speed processing, extrusion and other processes.

Latin American companies are on the move and USA blueberries are of interest for dairy, baking and confectionery.  Even countries who produce blueberries are interested in US highbush blueberries.

See you in Chicago next year!






Vietnam to Mississippi

It’s a long ways from Hanoi, Vietnam to Lumberton Mississippi!   This crew of visitors from a major retail chain (Vincommerce) in Vietnam visited the Miss-Lou Cooperative on a nationwide tour of blueberry production and packing.  In anticipation of the upcoming fresh season, the group led by our own Hana (third from left) , stopped in Florida, Mississippi, California, Oregon and Washington State.  The group also stopped at the National Institute of Food Technologists annual meeting in New Orleans and checked out the dried, frozen and further processed blueberries.

Korean Pet Foods Get Real!

Here is a new blueberry-containing pet food from Korea.  Like in the USA–pets are becoming family members.  A new generation of Korean-made foods has hit the market and this one incudes “human grade” salmon, tomatoes, pumpkin and blueberry!

Greek Yogurt India

Namaste from Delhi!  Two years ago, our local FoodTech began talking up the success of blueberry Greek yogurts in North America to the Indian dairy industry!  Now it has become a category of its own and often with yummy blueberry flavors made in country with imported frozen blueberries from the USA!

Beautiful Blueberry Extracts for Vietnam

Two years ago, we started seeing Korean skincare products on the market in Vietnam.  Now here is an example of a new Vietnam-made product using USA blueberry extract and olive oil!   Hana, our local foodtech, has been linking local companies with samples and supplies!

Seoul Food & Hotel

What a great exposition in Seoul.   Korea has seen a rapid rise in imports of frozen blueberries in the past decade.  Now, we are working on new uses of all forms of blueberries including frozen, liquid dried and vert dry powders and flakes.

FoodTech Sunyong lee works on blueberry sauce formulations in advance of the Seoul Foods Exposition.

Preparation of samples for tasting.

Laboratory testing and analysis to answer the questions of the potential end users.

Preparation of formula and prototype documentation.

Off to the USA Blueberries both at the Seoul Food and Hotel at Ilsan.

The US Ambassador to the Republic of Korea visits the blueberry booth and is happy to see the blueberry bi-bim-bap sauce!




Seoul Foods Expo – 2019

Korea FoodTech Sunyong Lee presents unique Korean sauce concepts utilizing frozen Blueberries at the Seoul Foods Exposition in Ilsan May 21-24, 2019 A bit hit in the land of spicy foods!

Blueberry Honey Sauce.  Combines two ingredients for health as well as ginseng!

Blueberry Bi Bim Bap Sauce.  This popular one bowl dish includes rice (bap) and  veggies (bi bim).  No bi bim bap is complete without a savory sauce which is applied and mashed into the healthful mixture!  The savory Korean sauce with blueberries is a big hit here at the Seoul Foods and chefs are snapping up the recipe.

Blueberry Sesame.   Amazing how well the blueberry mellows out the traditional dipping sauce!

Blueberry Chutney. Although not Korean,  Indian foods are a trendy item.   Not too hot the way I like it, but Korean visitors like the combination of red hot chili and blueberry.





Korea New Blueberry Innovation

Lots of blueberry innovation in the and of the morning calm!

Blueberry jam on the Go!

Single-serving blueberry cheese cake.

Blueberry yogurt puff for baby!

Beautiful yogurt pack at E-MArt!

Real Blueberry Juice

Meal kit for making three blueberry pancakes!


Oh Myanmar

It all started almost a year ago in New Orleans, Louisiana.  USHBC exhibited at the Dairy Deli Bakery Exposition which is a gathering of up and coming companies in the food industry.  It was an excellent show, lots of interest in blueberries.  All of a sudden, a group of 15 bakery owners from Myanmar (Formerly Burma) arrive at our booth!  They were in town on a USDA sponsored training visit.   They were excited to see blueberries!  After a nice visit — I mentioned “why don’t you head up to Mississippi and see the real thing.”  After a call to one of the growers in Poplarville, off they went to blueberry heaven!

Now beam ahead to 2019.  We received a note from the USDA office that this same group of bakers were organizing an all day seminar and exposition in Yangon, the capital.  The concept was for the traveling group to share experiences with the local baking industry.  USHBC was invited as VIP guest and Tom and Hana headed off to Myanmar!

I arrived at midnight to this exotic Southeast Asian city.  In the morning, here is the view from my hotel window.  This place is the fastest growing economy on earth according to the World Bank!

Welcome to the Showcase!

In the morning, we had an exposition and bakers and suppliers from throughout Myanmar attended.  Here is Hana hard at work at the booth.

Next we had a chef demonstrate how to make a Myanmar pizza with  blueberries.

Yummy pizza!

A great success.  We re-connected with our Myanmar friends and some are already using frozen and dried blueberries in local products!

Hana gets participation award from Rachel Nelson of the USDA in Myanmar.

Good day from Myanmar!

Food & Hotel Vietnam Expo

This was the third and most successful Food & Hotel Vietnam participation for USHBC

Food Hotel Vietnam (FHV) is the big event for USHBC in Vietnam each year.  This year, Hana and her crew did a wonderful job organizing the USHBC stand.  Visitors were lined up to taste smoothies made on the spot!  In just two years, USHBC has developed a network of trade contacts that are now purchasing and distributing blueberries.  This includes, frozen, juice, dried and ingredient solutions.

Hana meets with visiting food processors

Here is the USHBC display at a USDA-FAS Sponsored Showcase. Another great opportunity to expand our commercial network.  Mandy Chen (on left) from Taiwan helps staff the booth!  This year — everyone is talking about Fresh Blueberries coming soon!


See you next year!


The Long March

Delegation visits California


A long journey for our visitors from China Customs.  But, a good one.  First we visited Blueberry Farms and Packing facilities in the Bakersfield area.  Temperatures were in the 100s!  Then to Orlando and up to Gainsville to see the Florida production.

California visit

Here are some photos below.  Want to thank the growers and packers in California and Florida who helped make this journey happen!    Also all of the experts who stepped up to share their tremendous knowledge.

Chinese Customs officials visit farms in California and Florida.

This was an important visit where Chinese officials visited and assessed the US blueberry fields as far as a potential item to be allowed into China.  (Currently, fresh blueberries are restricted).  Lots of documents and paperwork have been exchanged over the past years and having the Chinese officials in the country and in the field was a great step towards market access.


Mission Accomplished!    Almost!


GLIFT = Great Lakes IFT Meeting


Welcome to Battle Creek Michigan.  As the sign says this is the place where breakfast cereals are made.  It is the home of Kellogg’s and Post and others.  What brings the Blueberry Guy to Michigan this April: The annual Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Great Lakes Section Expo!  (GLIFT)

USHBC has been active in the IFT from the start.  We participate in the annual meeting, advertise in the publication read by members.  These are the product developers who are launching the hundreds of new products each year!

Welcome to my “office.”

While the managers attend the big shows in Chicago and Vegas — the workers attend the regional meetings.  This is a great time to set up an “office” at the event center next to the Kellogg’s world Research and Development Center in downtown Battle Creek.  We arrange informal meetings and drop ins from the different research laboratories stop by.  It is a great way to research the food industry and promote processed blueberries to the food industry.

Friends from Van Drunen Farms, big boosters of blueberries!

In my view, the most important activity at these events is to meet up with the sellers of blueberry ingredients.  These are the industrial food brokers who are continually in the field selling our blueberries.  They are important and we support in any way.  They are always happy to see the support and attendance of the USHBC FoodTech program.

The GLIFT run is also a great opportunity to meet up with growers and packers in the area!

See you next year!

Michigan Meets Myanmar

What a great opportunity after the GLIFT meeting to buzz up to Lansing to meet up with our good friend Entomologist Deluxe, Dr. Rufus Issacs of Michigan State University  (Middle person waving) .  Rufus will always drop whatever is doing to help with market access documents and foreign visitors.   Now on the far left is a special visitor: Dr. Yee from Myanmar who is on a study visit to MSU to see market access work first hand.   Of course we found the only Burmese restaurant in town and sat down for an enjoyable meeting and discussion.   The highlight of the evening was when Dr. Yee pulled out her smart phone and showed us a copy of the market access request from the US Blueberry Industry that she diligently reviewed and approved last year!  This has led to the first shipments of fresh US blueberries to Myanmar this season!   Thank you Dr. Yee and Myanmar!  Thank you Rufus and your crew at the MSU Entomology lab!