Friday, January 31, 2014

Juicy Questions About Blueberry Juice.

Years ago, I conducted research on blueberry juice.  At that time I could only find two products, one in Vancouver BC ad the other in Las Vegas.  (figure that connection).  This was before the health benefits of blueberries launched the Little Blue Dynamos into food industry hyper drive!
<President's Choice (Canada)  Blueberry Cocktail lists Blueberry Juice and Concentrate as the main fruit juice ingredient!>
Today, I am back to researching blueberry beverages.   MINTEL Global New Products Database identifies around 1,000 new blueberry-containing juices which have been introduced in North America since 1996.  In 2013, we saw about 100.  In looking at the juice products, this is an enigma.  The packages have blueberries on the label, then you look at the ingredient statement and the 100% juice product is actually made predominantly wit other juices.  The reason is simple:  consumers want blueberries!  Anyone who has tasted 100 percent blueberry juice will affirm that it is a "refreshing" experience.  Blueberry juice goes very well in blends with other fruit juices.  My question and reason for research is to answer the question -- just how much blueberry should be in a blueberry identified beverage.  There are no FDA standards of identity that I can find.  Codex Alimentarius defines some standards for juice.  North American manufacturers are expert at label laws and ingredient statements.
Ten years ago, blubbery juice and concentrates were less common and sometimes not that easy to source.  Blueberries are not produced for juice after all.  The juice stock is made from products that do not go to fresh or frozen and further processed blueberries.  With rising production, there is more blueberry available for juice.  My message to juice companies is to take another look at blueberry juice.  Now is a good time to develop real significant blueberry juices and blends.  Tell the consumer you have "more blueberries!"
Let me know what you think.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Kung Hay Fat Choy!!!  Happy Chinese New Year or CNY as they say!  I wish all of our blueberry fans in China the best prosperity for the new year.  My #1 resolution is to see fresh blueberries from the USA allowed in China!  It is a win-win situation.  Chinese consumers love blueberries and hundreds of manufactured products contain blueberries including juices, jams, dairy and natural cosmetics.  Consumers, rarely have an opportunity to try fresh blueberries and when they do -- they love them!   Yes, China does produce blueberries in regions as far north as Inner Mongolia to the South and Hainan Island.  Currently local production is limited and most blueberry is major cities close to the production.  I spent Thanksgiving day in Beijing at a fresh produce conference and jut about every major produce importer and distributor expressed showed immediate interest in importing fresh blueberries.  Discussions are underway between the USA and China and there does not seem to be any big objections or reasons.  It just takes time...  Think positive -- promote blueberries -- and the blueberries will come!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Blueberry Oil!

I never thought of a blueberry as an oil source until recently, when I visited with cosmetic chemists.  Blueberries contain a very small or immature seed that can be pressed for oil.  Some varieties have a more defined seed, but for the most part you will not even notice it.  The seed is pressed into a very pleasant oil and marketed in the cosmetic industry worldwide.
Here is what one of the suppliers in the USA say on the spec sheet:  Fruitsmart in Washington State says: 
Blueberry seed oil is prepared by the mechanical cold press expeller processing of blueberry seeds.  No solvents or chemicals are used during any step of production.  The process yields unrefined blueberry seed oil which is then lightly filtered and purged with nitrogen and packed securely in appropriate containers.  This product is processed, packaged and shipped in accordance with Current Good Manufacturing Practices and in compliance with the United States Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act of 1938 as amended.
Specs:
Appearance:  light green
Aroma: no off notes (I say it has a wonderful  blueberry aroma!)
Solubility: lipid soluble
Extraneous matter: clear
Peroxide value: <15mg/kg
Specific gravity: 0.923
Now, the big question.  What is it used for.  I talked to cosmetic chemists who are currently using it in a whole variety of skin applications.  Just for the aroma of real blueberries it is worth the pricy price tag!  (Send me a note and I will fill you in).  According to oil chemists, the blueberry oil has some very interesting functional characteristics for food and non food uses including special applications in mechanical engineering.  
Now this is all interesting stuff, and I must get to work to update a new column on the Blueberry supplier list!  I understand there are a few suppliers.

Here is a photo of a popular skin mask from Korea!

How about the new mascot!  It has taken 25 years -- but the Blueberry Council finally has a mascot!!!  Meet "Dyna!"  Her friend  "Mo" in the works so stay tuned.  Mascots are a huge deal in Asia where we market a lot of our blueberries.  Consider "Hello Kitty" which is bigger than Santa Claus in Taiwan.  Last summer, we held a mascot contest in Korea.  We used social media to solicit designs from artists across the nation. We expected a few -- but received 70 great designs.  Here is the winner:
Fresh - Healthy - Tasty!  That is the theme!
Welcome to the new and improved Blueberry Food Tech Blog.  Tom Payne here.  I have been working on blueberries for some time now and and loving it.  Here, I will post regular details on blueberries in the food industry.  Thanks for visiting and keep in touch!