For decades, the USA has been the center of blueberry product development. Well — check out this chart from Mintel. More blueberry containing products are launched outside of the USA compared to North America (USA and Canada for this comparison).
USHBC will be busy spreading the highbush Blueberry message in the new year.
Here is what is happening the first part of 2015.
Will have a lot of US events too!
February 8-12, 2015 – Gulfoods, Dubai.
February 21-23, 2015 – American Frozen Food Institute, Anaheim
March 3-6, 2015 – Foodex Japan, Makuhari, Japan
April 14, 2015 – New York Regional Institute of Food Technologists Expo, Somerset, NJ
May 6-8, 2015 – SIAL China, Shanghai
May 12-15, Food and Hotel Korea, Ilsan, South Korea
June 9-11, SIAL Brazil, Sao Paulo, Brazil.
It is Christmas time and I need to thank Jack and Charlie Tomasello of Tomasello Winery in Hammonton New Jersey for the recently received treat: Blueberry Sparkling Wine and Moscato!
I am not a big sweet wine drinker so the Moscatto will go to my Boss, but I am absolutely crazy about the Sparkling Wine or what some call Blueberry Champagne. It is 100 percent blueberry and not easy to make with the acidity of the blueberry. But, Tomasello has this one mastered.
It is remarkably dry with a beautiful blue color and big fizz! Each year I take this wine to the American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI) meeting on the West Coast where I host a tabletop exhibit to meet the industry.
Needless to say: the USHBC booth has a lot of action and regulars each time the cork is popped! Here is a photo of the Moscato.
I am not sure when the first blueberry festival began. That would definitely cause a controversy. But, today there are 29 festivals on the USHBC website: (Surely, there are more…)
Blueberry Festivals begin in the spring in the South and end in the Pacific Northwest in the Fall. Check out the website for exact times and the dates change year to year.
What goes on at blueberry festivals:
Blueberry tasting, pie contests, concerts and all sorts of action.
If you ever picked blueberries in the Southern USA, you are familiar with Rabbiteye blueberries or Vaccinium Ashei. This is what is sometimes called the Southern Blueberry. It is native to the South and has a very distinctive “rabbit eye” look on the calyx or crown that some feel looks like a rabbit eye. Rabbiteyes grow in warmer climates and are the first blueberries to be harvested in the spring. They have a very distinctive texture and flavor and have a following all over the south. For real blueberry connoisseurs — give it a try!
Everyone who has visited Taiwan knows that the return-home gift of choice is the delicious pineapple cake. Imagine a rich buttery jacket with a pineapple filling. Taiwanese talk endlessly about where and when to get the very best. Now, here is a new trend in the “Formosa” Isle. Frozen blueberries are the base of the sweet filling. Stores throughout the region are promoting this as a new item and it has even been a hit in Japan and Hong Kong. What is next — yes we are working on blueberry Moon Cakes for China!
Remember when you went into the local Walgreens or CVS and looked for healthy supplements. There used to be a neat little corner near the pharmacy window. Now — it is three aisles full of all sorts of natural substances from blueberries to flaxseed, golden seal to bee pollen and propolis.
You will find more and blueberries in healthcare products in North America. Check out the chart below. In East Asia, health oriented consumers are familiar with all sorts of blueberry containing products at the pharmacy including blueberry powders, juices, concentrate and biscuits as well as supplements containing real blueberry. Many are associated with antioxidants and eyesight improvement and have clever names like “Blue Eyes.”
Sounds like an easy enough question? The answer from experienced bakers — as much as possible. Blueberries are a true value added ingredient in muffins, and USHBC interviews with consumers indicated that consumers want to see the blueberries on the inside and out. While some bakers are afraid of blue color from the blueberries spreading to the cake — consumers had a different view altogether. They want to see the color. After all that is why they purchase the blueberry muffin.
Chocolate Covered Blueberries! Yes, they have been around a long time in specialty shops and retailers. but, check out the new wave of chocolate covered (panned) blueberries on the marketplace. Companies like Ghiradelli, Dove Moonstruck and others are getting into the act. Most interesting: note the prominent identification on the package! We recently visited the Moonstruck facility in Portland Oregon with Chinese food editors (food editors from China). They were amazed at the place, and me too! (photos in an upcoming blog post!)
USHBC is planning a full slate of exhibitions in 2015, including Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) regional Supplier Nights and expositions. Dates have not been set in most cases, but we are planning on the following cities.
- New York/New Jersey (Somerset, New Jersey)
- Dallas IFT, (Frisco Texas)
- Chicago IFT, (Rosemont, Illinois)
- Lake Erie, (Cleveland, Ohio)
- Great Lakes, (Battle Creek, Michigan)
For years, Blueberry Guy has preached to the blueberry industry on the importance of keeping processed blueberries in the “Research and Development” pipeline. The rationale: about one half of all of the blueberries produced go to the food processing sector. That is, fillings, bakery items, confections dairy and snacks. A typical grocery store stocks 30,000 items. And at the same time — around 2,500 new items are introduced each month!
These items are developed through a process of research and development or as we say in the business: R & D.
A typical company will have a structure with management on top and then marketing or brand management, production and processing & Quality Control and R&D.
The R&D staff work on the next product for a company. Marketing and management express their direction and R&D will implement. The R&D staff are normally food technologists which degrees and training in food science and sub-fields such as food engineering, microbiology and others. The R & D job is to take general ideas and refine them into products. First they develop prototypes or concepts. These are tested internally and externally. The product is refined, further tested and eventually test marketed. It takes a lot of time and money to bring a product to market.
Also, not very many new products are successful. But, considering that most companies rely on new products for a large chunk of their profits — it is worth the effort. USHBC works with the Marketing and R & D of companies. We engage and learn of the company needs and fill the information gaps with blueberry solutions. Companies look to the USHBC as a partner in product development, and improvement. Together we keep driving blueberries into more and more products that will keep filling the pipeline for years to come.
For the second year, USHBC has supported fresh blueberry sales to Korea with a PR and sampling program. According to the State of Oregon Department of Agriculture, more than 1.5 million lbs of fresh blueberries were sent to Korea for the 2014 season. Below see the kick off promotion at Korean supermarkets which connected beauty to blueberries!