Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Salute to Those Who Sell
The US Highbush Blueberry Council (USHBC) represents more than 2,500 blueberry growers in the USA. We also represent the imports as well. Around 60 percent of all blueberries produced go to the fresh channel and the remainder to "processed" which includes frozen and other forms. Outside of in-season U-pick blueberries -- most blueberries make it to market thanks to the unsung heros of our industry. Yes, the sales guys! Fresh blueberries are shipped by growers, grower packers and regional and national shippers. Sales reps spend countless hours on the phone, talking to growers, customers. On the fresh side, produce professionals are up before dawn selling fresh blueberries to terminals, grocery chains and even export markets. Many of the fresh produce companies have decades of experience with blueberries,some going back almost 100 years! On the processed side, fresh blueberries are harvested in mid-season and delivered to packing plants, where the blueberries are frozen in a variety of methods including individually quick frozen, case frozen and straight pack. Some packers also prepare puree, juice and other "Co-Products." The frozen berries are in demand for use in the polybag markets for store sales. Frozen blueberries are also shipped to food processors such as pie fillings, muffin manufacturers and a whole range of uses. Frozen blueberry sales staffs, are knowledgeable of product specifications and the lingo of the food industry. Sellers are connected with retail chains and food processors around the country. They sell direct and also rely upon food brokers in regions of the country who represent their interest and keep connected with the users. Blueberry Sellers and buyers are a small club,and each year they converge on important industry events such as the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) and United Fresh Produce Association for fresh and the American Frozen Fruit Institute (AFFI). Buyer meet sellers. Information is exchanged, and deals are made. Thank you to all of our blueberry sellers and buyers for making it all happen!