Friday, August 19, 2016

South African Delegation Visits Blueberry Production

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.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Ichido Bakery Promotion Kickoff In Shanghai

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:

Master of ceremony kicks off the event and press conference at Ichido headquarters.

Shanghai ATO Valerie Brown introduces the USA ingredients including highbush blueberries.

Here are the products!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Blueberry Bakery Promotion - China

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.

About Ichido's:

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.


Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Japan Convenience Stores - Blueberry Country!

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!

Frozen berries and mango at 7-11 in Tokyo.   I asked customers how they were consuming and all said right out of the bag for a cool treat.    Young ladies say consumption is good for skin care.  Berry importers and distributors say this new business is soaring!

Here is a display of healthful candies, some with blueberry and an association with eyesight improvement. Package will show an image of an eye!  These displays are separate from the candy and snack section and are also found in pharmacies.

Japan is a snacking society.   Lots of rice and grain based snacks -- many with savory seafod/squid and cuttlefish flavors and textures.   This sweet product contains blueberry powder in the creme filling.   Notice the nice blueberry art on the pack.

Here is a Japanese version of a drinkable yogurt with whole blueberries suspended.  Looks a lot like a bubble tea.   

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

School Foodservice Processing

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.
1. 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.
2. 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:

Bakery items with blueberries.  Here is the crew from JM Smuckers showing off their "Uncrustables!"  Kids love them!

From Malt-O-Meal we have a new blueberry cereal.  Uses real blueberry powder and have a great natural blueberry taste in every bite.

Here is an old friend Craig Messmer who is with a company called "Froozer" which makes frozen fruit pops.   They have a great "Blue Aloha" which is a blend of blueberry and pineapple.

Fruit pops in a squeezable format are popular with kids.  

Mixed berries.

A blueberry smoothie mix from Naked Juice.

 Here is the All-Star school foodservice team from Peterson Farms in Michigan.  They have been serving the schools for decades.

Here is the crew from Wawona in California who have been at the forefront of getting frozen fruit into the school lunch menus.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Japan Eyesight Potion

Check out the mascot-endorsed blueberry juice in Japan.  The mascot is pure Kawaii!!!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Real Blueberry in Tiny Toast!

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!