What impact can one major new product introduction make?
The jump in the "blue bar" which is dried highbush coincided with the months in advance of Lotte's new product introduction. This company is a regular stop in USHBC Japan Food Tech activities. The record amount of 2.9 million lbs. is a 159% gain over 2012. The shipments of dried highbush blueberries in the first four months of 2016 are (1.7 million lbs) or 192% higher than the same time in 2015!
What does this mean for blueberry growers and frozen packers. The 2.9 million lbs of dried highbush blueberries sent to Japan required more than 10.5 million lbs of frozen blueberries to produce. (it takes 3.5 lbs of frozen or fresh blueberries to make one lb of dried-infused blueberries).
We should note that lowbush dried blueberries have been strong in Japan for some time. Note that the lowbush continue to sell well in the snack category. Much of the rise in highbush dried is destined to the high value confectionery industry where the larger berries are ideal for confectionery panning.
Stay tuned, there is a lot of room for growth for highbush blueberries in the Japan ingredient market!