What's happening in the blueberry FoodTech World

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.