What's happening in the blueberry FoodTech World

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Stay strong and fresh with blueberries -- in India that is!

Here is a national advertising campaign for Delight, an early adapter to dried blueberries in India.  Stay tuned as they want to use the Real BlueberrySeal!   Dozens of national and regional brands of dried blueberries in India.  Thanks to our Raj Kapoor in Delhi for sending this along!   Actually he is the one who introduced them to blueberries in the first place!

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Ancient Grains and Blueberries

Now -- this is good blueberry identification on a baby food product.  Look at the green section on the upper right hand side and you will see the other enhancing statements including "ancient grains."

Have you noticed the number of new products on the supermarket shelf with "ancient grains" on the package and ingredients such as: chia, flaxseed and quinoa in the ingredient statement?  According to Mintel Global New Product Database (GNPD), the  number is around 1,000 worldwide.  Since 2015 we have seen about 50 blueberry-ancient grain products introduced. 

What is an ancient grain?  There really is not an official definition for this but my personal guess is: grains and cereals that have been historically consumed since ancient times.  These ancient grains are differentiated from the "modern grains" which are in high volume mass production.

Flaxseed, chia, quinoa, kamut, amaranth teff and others.

What is the connection to blueberries?  Blueberries and blueberry ingredients share the same type of "health halo" as ancient grains such as flaxseed, chia and quinoa. Blueberries are a great addition to foods which utilize the addition of ancient grains as functional and on-pack consumer attraction.  That is my guess!

Here is an example of a pet food product with ancient grains.
Anyway, here is a collection of the interesting blueberry and ancient grain products around the world.

Companies using ancient grains are natural targets for blueberry usage.  You will see more blueberry ancient grain products in the future.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Patisserie & Baking Japan

Japan is a world center for fine bakery and pastry innovation.  In fact at the every-three to-four year Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie which is like the World Series of Baking -- the Japanese team is always a contender or top team!  

These are serious bakers and pastry chefs.   

>They work at individual shops with big reputations and high prices.  
>Some multi-shops (do not call them chains) like Juchheim,  Andersons and others have national and international followings and even outlets in Europe!
>You will find outlets in high end department stores in places like the Ginza.  They have elaborate displays, extraordinary packaging and yes--incredible per item price.

USHBC approaches this audience as trendsetters for the entire industry.

For the third year, USHBC is participating in the Patisserie & Baking Japan Exposition in Tokyo.   Thanks to the invite by our good friend and blueberry supporter Juri Noguchi at the USDA-FAS Agricultural Trade Office (ATO) Tokyo USHBC will participate in the USA pavilion.  

We will also present a seminar on blueberries in baking on July 17.

So, how do we approach blueberries to some of the finest pastry and baking chefs in the whole world?  

>Convenience.  Even though these bakeries never cut corners, they also look for efficiencies.  We present concepts such as ready to use blueberries in frozen, dried, and puree as well as powders.   Chefs love to innovate with these new products.  For example they coat products with blueberry powder, use purees on top of cakes especially cheese cake.  Bakery suppliers in Japan are taking bulk products in cases and repackaging to usable sizes.  This may sound elementary but it is a big deal in a land where space inside of a bakery is limited!

>Dried.  Dried blueberries have been around a long time in Japan, but mainly used in snacks.   While Pullman breads in the grocery sector use small amounts of dried fruit -- craft bakeries make dense rustic loaves with high percentages of dried fruit.  Infused-dried blueberries are ideal for breads, bagels and other items where the product must stand up to mixing and baking.   The low water activity and firmness of the product do not disintegrate in the mixing and can be seen prominently in the end product.  

Here is an example of dried blueberry innovation in Japan.  Anderson's bakery outlet uses dried blueberrie and blueberry puree for color.

>Fresh.   Asian pastry chefs love to load fruit onto cakes, pastries and specialty items.    When we started working in Japan, fresh blueberries were a summer treat.  Now they are available year round.   Japanese bakers love big plump highbush blueberries.   Fresh blueberries are also available in larger packs like 1 kg for bakery and pastry use.

Now, this is a fresh blueberry cheesecake!

>Fillings and Sauces.   This year we are demonstrating the concept of in the shop fillings and sauces.  No this is not for everyone and goes contrary to the convenience paragraph.  But, again and again Japanese bakers ask for ways to prepare ultra premium toppings and fillings with frozen blueberries.   Where 50 percent and above fruit has always been the standard -- Japanese bakers will take the blueberry content up to 70 percent and above!   Bakers have also discovered the costing benefit of do-it yourself fillings.   At the same time we promote the excellent fillings prepared in the USA and shipped ready to use.

Here is an example of a product at Anderson's bakery with cheese in European style with an in-sop created blueberry topping with high percentage of blueberry and lots of blueberry identity.   

>Non-Sweet Goods.   Japanese bakers will always tell us that they do not want items too sweet.  They also are very experimental with savory and umami flavors. This year at P & B we will introduce "pickled blueberries" which  may sound unusual to us -- but in tests are very appealing sandwiches, dips and prepared foods in the bakery case.  

Here is a pickled blueberry in the deli case.   

Like the USA, millennial population of Japan has long ago expanded food tastes well outside of the fish and rice area.  Consumers love (Japanese) curry, Kimchee, and hot peppers with sweet balance.   We will see how this goes!  May be surprised!

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Super Cool Video in Taiwan

Here is a super cool video produced in cooperation with the USDA-Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS) Agriculture Trade Office (ATO) at the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT).  It is just a bootleg copy I made from my I phone at the Food Taipei. But, you will get the idea.  It is COOL!

Thanks to Katherine Lee at the AIT for this wonderful initiative.  Mandy in Taiwan helped with the blueberries part.

We will post the official version when officially published on the AIT website!

Monday, July 9, 2018

Bakery Seminar Japan - 2018

The time: July 18 2018 (2:00 pm) ; The place: Tokyo Big Site.   Blueberry Baking Seminar 2018.  In conjunction with the Pastry and Baking (P & B) exhibition, USHBC will present an update on blueberries in Japanese baking.   Japanese bakers are at the vanguard of new product development.  Check out the presentation video and you will see products such as baguettes and croissants with blueberries which are now marketed in the convenience store sector.   Drop by the big site and check it out!  Hall 7, just take a left turn at the giant blue egg!

Sunday, July 8, 2018

USDA Foods Commodity Processing Excitement!

This was a big year for highbush blueberries in the USDA Foods Commodity Processing arena.  In commodity processing USDA foods, purchased for schools and humanitarian feeding, are made by manufacturers into school-ready products.   Schools love it.  USDA loves it, and USHBC loves seeing our products utilized!

Check out this video from USHBC FoodTech showing the recent School Nutrition Association (SNA) conference held in Las Vegas, July 9-12.

New USDA Product: Berry Fruit Cup!  This new concept was a highlight at the show and reports are positive on acceptance by schools and of course students.

You will also see a whole slew of blueberry containing products exhibited for consideration by school district buyers.

USDA sees the blueberry industry commitment to USDA foods and commodity processing.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Taiwan -- the Fresh Promotion Continues

The sign of a successful promotion is that it continues!  Check out the ad campaign for Wellcome supermarket featuring USA blueberries.   The ads featured other brands as well.  Note the USA flag and USHBC symbol!   In store the promotion continues with QR codes which link customers to Doc Blueberry who tells the USA blueberry food safety story!

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Houston, we got Blueberries in Space!

Online article from World News Network - India

Wow, now this is big news.  Fresh blueberries have been delivered to the International Space Station!  This story has beamed around the world including India.  I received congratulatory messages from Delhi, Mumbai!  It is big news over there.  

The story reports that the delivery was Texas blueberries which are not surprising since Texas is so well attached to the NASA Space Program.  Blueberries are grown in the Lone Star State mainly up in the Northeast corner of the state near Nagodoches.  Texas Blueberry Festival

It is indeed a great tribute to blueberries to be part of the 3-ton load of supplies sent to re-stock the International Space Station.

I am watching the astronaut blogs to see their reaction!  Go blueberries!

Monday, July 2, 2018

Diamond Bakery Get's Real!

Mahalo Nui Loa to our friends at Diamond Bakery in Honolulu.  No visit to the islands is complete without picking up a case of the famous Hawaiian biscuits.   Two years ago, we had a hālāwai with Diamond R & D at the International Bakery Expo in Las Vegas (considered by some to be the 9th island of Hawaii).  They were in search of ways to include blueberries and the dehydrated product fit the bill  Here it is and it is a winner.   Diamond no ka 'oi!

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Taiwan Mascot Mania

Taiwan has always been a top tier mascot nation!   Food Taipei brings together some of the very cutest mascots in all of Asia.  

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Food Taipei - Day Four

Day 4!  Get me out of here!!!  Most exhibitions abroad run for three days maximum.   Some of the large ones like ANUGA, SIAL and Gulfood run 5 days!   Food Taipei was four.  The final day gave me an opportunity to visit the Taiwan Pavilion.  Total Chaos and incredibly loud.  Took a short video above which shows some of the action and noise!

Taiwan is a nation of several large food companies and thousands of small.   Note the sophistication of the booths, the bright packaging and focus on natural ingredients.

Last year, I made the rounds and just a few blueberry containing products here and there  Now some really great developments.

>Blueberry juices not from concentrate (NFC)
>Snack foods with dried blueberries
>Drinking vinegars and honey with blueberry
>Moon cakes with blueberry fillings

Friday, June 29, 2018

Food Taipei- Day Three

Here is a look at the International Pavilion of Food Taipei held in Taipei, June 27-30

The show is located at the Nanagang Exposition Center and is on two floors.  Today's video covers the top floor for international companies.  USA was in a great location and USHBC holds a prime location.

Take Aways:

>Interest in frozen and dried blueberries for food processing is strong.  Companies are in need of product that can met the strict Taiwan MRLs.

>Taiwan is a long-time loyal market for USA blueberries.   Again and again companies who we have known for decades stopped in to visit.  They are proud to be on the USA blueberry team and this year we rolled out the Real Seal and had some strong interest and commitments.

>We have gone from fresh, to frozen and now to ingredient solutions!   Manufacturers are fascinated with the wide variety of ingredient solutions that are available.  

>In meeting with Taiwan companies, it is impressive to see how many are now advanced into Mainland China with successful nationwide business operations.

>Taiwan is the "home base" for "Overseas Chinese" who operate businesses in Southeast Asia including the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia.  Some of the leading companies in the region come to the Food Taipei to visit suppliers and equipment manufacturers.

Taiwan does matter!

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Food Taipei - Day Two

Welcome to the USA Pavilion near the main entrance of the Food Taipei,  Note the excellent booth location that you can see all the way from the entry!

Lots of action!  The USDA staff told us they received positive feedback from those who visited our booth.  They met knowledgeable and helpful blueberry people.  So happy to hear that!

Mascot Overview
Best of class!  

One of strangest mascots at show.

USDA Banquet and Product Showcase.

Yummy blueberry products

Desserts made with fresh blueberries

Back to basic muffins!

A long day, a good day!

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Food Taipei - Day One

Welcome to Food Taipei.  This is the USA Pavilion.  USHBC picked a great location near the ATO office and facing a heavy traffic aisle.  You can see the both from afar!

Mandy holds a meeting with a food distributor at our booth.  

Here are my long time friends from O'Natural.  (Super Elephant) We helped them into the blueberry business two decades ago, and they are still innovating!  

Booth is looking good!

Bakery friends from the Philippines!  They say Mabuhay to blueberries!

Friendly Japanese jam manufacturer

Always some crazy stuff in Taiwan, and Food Taipei is no exception.  Here is the Grand Opening Ceremony

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Saigon Mission Accomplished!

Welcome to HCM City.  20 hrs, but worth it!  The Cathedral in the photo is a remnant along with Opera House and Main Post office from the French Colonial era.  
Some of you who think I am on the way to Food Taipei will be surprised to see the Welcome sign at the Vietnam Tan Son Nhat International Airport. Duty calls, and we needed to get 30 kg of generic frozen blueberries to Vietnam for testing and product development and pronto.   And, we got it done this weekend. 

Despite great demand, there are no non-stop air flights from the USA to Vietnam -- yet.  Must fly through Tokyo on the way.

It's all about sampling.  Ask anyone in the frozen business -- what is the toughest thing about new markets.  All will reply -- sampling.  Quite simply, the easy task back home is mission impossible.  It is extremely costly to ship small frozen samples overseas.  Especially to a steamy place like Vietnam.  90 degrees and 90 percent humidity.  A lot like New Orelans in the summer.  Product must be shipped wit dry ice, and since 9-11, the rules are very, very strict on the amount that can be used in airline baggage or carry in.  

Oh yes, just send by Fedex,  DHL and others is not a great option.  Packers can all tell horror stories of goods carefully packed, and paid and shipped which are delayed in customs.  Inspectors can ask for all sorts of needless documents while the goods thaw.  

We buzzed right over to a cold storage at 10:00 pm to deliver the goods.   Note the steamed glasses on the right!  This is the best gig in town!  Everyone, especially Hana on the right are extremely happy and now tomorrow morning we will start visiting companies!
Back to my triumphant arrival to SGN!  The goods made it, walked through customs and was met by our Hana and her crew in Vietnam who have been nervously awaiting frozen samples.    We got it through, and I got a great Vietnamese sandwich and a bag of mangos as sign of appreciation!

Off to a cold storage nearby.   The goods are now being used to gain the proper permits for USHBC to bring in a larger sample shipment that will be used for market development work and expositions in the region.   We are working with the leading dairy and food processing companies and all are anxious to give product a try.

Critical link in the process:  As I have been preaching for decades, food industry market development is a process.  Below is the chart of the process we have been preaching for decades.

>First Build Awareness (This is where we are in most developing markets)
>This leads to Interest by some who see some benefit from our product.  In Vietnam, thanks to the work of Hana, there is a growing interest!  
>Trial and Evaluation.  Before business, companies want to see the goods.  In this case frozen blueberries and purees and concentrates.  They want to see, taste and test.  This is critical, and this is the reason, I re-routed my travel to Taiwan to get samples into Vietnam.
>All leads to acceptance.  This is where companies are sold on the concept of bringing frozen blueberries and ingredient solutions into the country.   These companies will work off the USHBC suppliers list and connect.

That is what it is all about!

Friday, June 22, 2018

Food Taipei -- 2018

USHBC exhibits at the Food Taipei June 27-30!  How can I forget my first Food Taipei exposition in 1990s!  We Flew 15 hours on a plane with a smoking section.  (yuck) Took a taxi to the expo center and smacked a crazy motorbike driver.  Arrived just in time for a 6.5 earthquake which re-arranged everything.   (Ask Mark Villata)

It was interesting to see locals -- especially young ladies lined up to taste their first blueberries.  They tasted and pointed to skin with a big smile.

Here we are in 2018!   Taiwanese love fresh blueberries --especially from the USA which is a "brand" they trust.   The biggest change has been the developments in the Taiwanese food industry.  While there have bee ups and downs in fresh, the processed side continues to grow.   Each year, we attend Food Taipei and connect with new food processing companies such as dairy, baking and candy as well as Taiwanese favorites as traditional moon cakes.   Taiwan has a wide based small food industry, has pioneered LOHAS  (Lifestyle Oriented Health and Sustainability) and are also big into organics and just about every food trend that comes from Japan, Korea or the USA. Now Taiwan is a trendsetter for all of "Greater China" including the People's Republic, and all of the countries of Southeast Asia where "overseas" Chinese run many food industries.

Island of Innovation:  The small Taiwanese companies were the first to start innovating with blueberries.   Now the "big guys" like Unipresident (largest food manufacturer in all of Asia), I-Mei and others are stepping into blueberries.  Besides meeting at the conferences, we stay connected with R & D, hold meetings, seminars and stay in touch.   (Taiwan companies are some of the leaders in Mainland Chinese good business)  Some of the most important developments in China are a result of our Taiwan connection.

UNI President - A leader in Asian Food Business

Food Taipei 2018.  The big show runs from June 27-30 at the Taipei Nangang Expo Center.  The excitement is building and USHBC will hold court in the USA Pavilion sponsored by our super-helpful friends at the American Institute in Taiwan(AIT) Agricultural Trade Office. This year we are introducing blueberry ingredient solutions and also focus on frozen and our USA food safety legacy.  We are even constructing a cardboard cutout of Doc Blueberry with QR code to make things interesting.  Wei Yang of Oregon State University is a "rock star" in Taiwan.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Israel-Produced Blueberry Topping -- 70 % Blueberry!

Here is the "Real Deal" from a really innovative company in Israel!  Tnuva is the leading food processors in this state of around 8.3 million.  They are also the world's leading Kosher food manufacturer.   Each year we visit with Tnuva R & D at the Institute of Food Technologist (IFT).   They really are a global company and have a large presence in the USA as well.

Back to the "Real Deal.  Here is a blueberry topping proudly introduced by Tnuva at the recent International Dairy, Deli Bakery Association (IDDBA) exposition in New Orleans.  When we think of toppings -- we sometimes think sugar -- but this one is 70% blueberry.  This is now being introduced in the company's Anvey Zion brand.  A wonderful blueberry flavor, aroma and texture!  This is perfect for consumer and foodservice operations who want to show real blueberries!

מזל טוב (congratulations)  to Tnuva!  

USHBC has targeted Israel for market development work in the food industry sector in 2019.   We look forward to meet up with our friends at Tnuva at the upcoming Institute of Food Technologists meeting in Chicago July 15-17.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Taiwan Retailers Proudly Present USA Blueberries

New Advertisement for Wellcome Supermarkets in Taiwan reinforcing the message  that USA Blueberries are available.   The new Wellcome-designed flag logo symbolized food safety!  The Wellcome Facebook is buzzing with positive comments.   

I love it when a plan comes together...  We are into the final week  of retail promotions in a selection of Wellcome and Jason's Marketplace stores throughout the island.  The emphasis: USA Blueberries are available!  The promotion included QR Code links to Doc Blueberry (Wei Yang of Oregon State University) who told of the many precautions and food safety practices used by USA shippers to serve the Taiwan Market.  The message resonated and we have received hundreds of visitors each day to view.  Wei is a "Rock Star!"  

Poster in the blueberry section of the stores continues to link customers with Doc Blueberry!  Signage also includes the USHBC Export logo and American Flag.  This was all designed to perpetuate the small promotion and this extended activity will be in place at 272 stores throughout Taiwan.  (photos later!)  Brief translation -- Want to know more about USA blueberries?  Ask Doc Blueberry!

What next?  Wellcome was reluctant to promote blueberries at the start of the 2018 season.  They are now bullish!  USHBC sampling programs are almost complete, but the store chain is perpetuating the Doc Blueberry campaign in 272 stores island-wide for the remainder of the season.  Wellcome is promoting USA blueberries proudly in their advertising and social media campaigns and have been asking "how long they can expect supplies from the USA?"  That is a good sign!  Other retailers have noticed and Carrefour also wants to connect their customers to Doc Blueberry and USA food safety!

Congratulations to Blueberry FoodTech Mandy--our "boots on the ground" in Taiwan who has worked tirelessly on this innovative campaign.   

I love when a plan comes together!

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Arandanos Azules -- Colombia

In Latin America, things aren't always the way they look.  Check out this new product from Bimbo Bakeries in Colombia.  Bimbo is a big supporter of blueberries everywhere they operate.  That would be South America, Central America, China and the USA and beyond  Yes, this Mexico-based company is the largest baking company in the world!

Take a look at this whole-grain bread with blueberries on the label.  Arádano
 is a word which describes a cranberry.  It's complicated.   In some countries in Latin America, the word arádano is also used to describe a blueberry.   When we started work in Mexico, you would find the word arádano used to describe blueberry.  Eventually some began using the term "Mora Azul", which is even stranger as the word mora is a raspberry.  In this case the word for blueberry was literally a "blue raspberry!"  

Are you confused yet?  Luckily we did not listen to the experts and insisted that a blueberry is a blueberry.   After all imported blueberry products like Smucker's jam have been marketing blueberry jam in the region for decades.    Now the word blueberry is the word for blueberry in most --but not all cases.

Back to the new Bimbo bread.  Our local FoodTech Katia was happy to see the big beautiful blueberry on the package of Vital bread.  She contacted Bimbo Colombia and learned that this product was indeed arádano -- arádano rojos (red) and not arádano azules (blue)!

Bimbo is an excellent company and really a great friend of our industry.   They immediately worked with Katia and a local supplier to get some real blueberries into the Research and Development lab -- pronto.  It is not easy to make a quick change in big-time food processing, but he process of evaluation in under way.

This will become a target for our Real BlueberriesSeal!

Muchas Gracias!

Monday, June 18, 2018

IDDBA-2018 New Orleans

International Dairy Deli & Bakery Association.  That's quite a mouthful.   You got the Natural Products Expo for health foods.  You got the Institute of Food Technologists for big food business.  You got the Fancy Foods Show for gourmet foods.

Here is the Expositon for the up and coming food companies.  These are the innovators who have come up with an idea, have had success and are ready to national and international.

USHBC attends this annual exposition to meet the companies who exhibit.  There are rows of bagels.  An entire hall of cheese.  Trendy items like Middle Eastern dips.  Chips, salsas and my very favorite -- perfect pizzas!   Manufacturers are looking for ingredients that are genuine for the discriminating millennial customer of the future.  They found it at the USHBC booth!

Here are a few interesting images from the IDDBA with a blueberry perspective:

Real Blueberry muffins from Sugar Bowl in San Francisco.   Now use highbush blueberries.

Dried Blueberry Toppings for salads.  We talked blueberries with this company last year!  

Optimal blueberry muffins.  The owner of this bakery was so proud of this beauty!

Hispanic bakery goods.  These are empanadas.   Our next door neighbor.

"Home Style" pastries for the bakery case.  With fewer and fewer trained bakers--wholesalers are filling the void with fresh bake items to stock the case.

Asian foods even sushi with blueberries!

From Tnuva, a leading food processor in Israel -- a filling with 70% blueberries!  We will meet them in Tel Aviv next year.  

Local is important and we sampled delicious fresh blueberries from "up the road" in Mississippi.  Over and over again, attendees came back for fresh blueberries and complimented us on having "something natural!"

Ya'll come back this October!