What's happening in the blueberry FoodTech World

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

February 2018 - New Product of the Month

I have seen a lot of blueberry beers lately, but this one is special.  It is brewed with blueberry puree.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Dubai in 1 min 32 seconds

So, for those of you on the other side of the planet.  Here is a view of blueberry progress in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.  I remember my first journey when just a very few items could be located.  Take the 1.32 min spin!

Making Things Happen in India!

In 2015 when USHBC made it's first visit to India there were few if any locally made blueberry products.   Almost nobody knew anything about blueberries -- in fact some thought blue colored berries were poison.  Even Indo-Canadians and Americans told us getting blueberries to India was a hopeless cause.

Things have really changed.  How did it happen?  A lot of hard work, train rides, factory visits, seminars and exhibitions in all of the regions of India.   This is an all out campaign to meet, connect and raise:

Trial/Evaluation of US blueberries and blueberry products.

Beam ahead to 2017.

USHBC with the "Blueberry Raj" have met with just about all of the companies in this video.   It involved in -the-field action -- meetings, sampling and followup, followup followup.  These are not meetings by a quick stop trade mission from the USA, but initial contacts and introductions, sampling followup, trials and work to acceptance.

And things have happened.  Each colored bar on the above Mintel Product Chart can be traced to USHBC activities in India.

And activities such as the Real Blueberries
Seal will keep the momentum going!

We are just getting started!

Friday, February 16, 2018

Real Blueberries™ for the Gulf!

Good morning Dubai!  The excitement is building for the start of the Gulfood Exposition which will run from February 11-22.  The big news which will be unveiled at the meeting of the Gulf Purchasers Management Forum (GPMF) will be the regional product launch of "Just Berry" a 1kg foodservice pack for hotels, restaurants and smoothie outlets.

Until now, frozen berries have been a rarity in the region where the outside temperatures are often in double digits.  It is 90F on this beautiful February day in Dubai!

Now this USA product, packed in India by Anusaya Fresh the bill!

Note the identification of the Real Blueberries Seal on the pack.   The seal has become popular with packaged goods users in India, and now the Gulf region.   Daily companies are signing up for use of this beautiful and Gulf Region) culturally acceptable logo.  This product is all American and sure to be a hit in the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia.

Beam back five years:  USHBC worked with Anusaya Fresh in Mumbai on importation and distribution of frozen blueberries through the USDA-FAS Quality Samples Program (QSP).  At that time frozen blueberries were almost non-existent in India.   Now Anusaya and others are successfully marketing frozen blueberries all over the country and now the Gulf.

Prior to the QSP program -- India imported zero kg of frozen blueberries.    As of November 2017, India has imported 171,000 kg (377,000 lbs).  This accounts for more than $250,000 in new business for USA blueberry packers to the most improbable market on earth.

Note: India also imports more than 110,000 kg (242,000 lbs) of dried infused blueberries and much of this has gone to fill consumer packs -- also utilizing the USHBC Real™  Blueberries Seal.  This amounted to another $445,000 in new business.   Some of the consumer packs are carrying the USHBC Real™  Blueberries Seal and the queue is lining up for more!  In the last few years since we introduced dried blueberries to India, there have been imposters and now the USHBC Real™  Blueberries Seal has helped remove or renew some of the confusing analogs!

Raj Kapoor, our Indian FoodTech has made the initial contacts, folllowup and numerous night train factory visits, exhibitions and seminars to engineer these new developments.

Let's all salute the Blueberry Raj of India!

Note:  all statistics noted in this post can be verified at the USDA-Economic Research Service Fruit and Treenuts Statistics web portal.


Thursday, February 15, 2018

Over the Pole to Gulfoods - Dubai

On the way to the largest food exposition in the Middle East: Gulfood.  (February 18 to 22, 11 to 7 pm daily!)

Ever wonder how fresh blueberries and or the blueberry guy get to Dubai:

The highlight besides seeing the magnificent northern lights over the Arctic -- was the blueberry pastries.  I am told they had fresh blueberries served in the upper deck which on these Airbus 320 aircraft -- is like a flying 5 star hotel!

Emirates was the first airline to fly non-stop from the West Coast to Middle East.   Now these airlines are important linkages for fresh blueberries to this booming region.

Friday, February 9, 2018

LOHAS - Big Time Market in Hong Kong

You have certainly heard the term: LOHAS.

Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability.

In Hong Kong where 7 million inhabit one of the most densely places on earth -- LOHAS is a dream.  Pursuit of LOHAS food has become part of a lifestyle and a natural place for blueberry consumption and product development.

Welcome to LOHAS EXPO 2018 -- Hong Kong.   Enjoy the Ride!

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Hana visits Hanoi for USDA-APHIS Grand Opening

February 5, 2018 was a great day in the Vietnamese capital city of Ha Noi.  USHBC-APHIS.  The government agency that protects American agriculture at home and opens markets abroad -- opened a new office in Vietnam.  This is a big step for our country and recognizes the importance of Vietnam as a trade partner.  USHBC/NABC  are currently working through APHIS to obtain market access for fresh blueberries.   Our Hana from HCM City in the south traveled to the opening ceremonies and also participated in meetings with APHIS and other US and Vietnamese government officials.   All were delighted to see that USHBC is on ground in Vietnam to promote sales of blueberries.   Currently processed blueberries such as frozen, dried, purees and concentrates are used in the regional food industry.   Fresh also makes it to market, but we see a boom when the market is eventually opened.

Here are some more photos:

APHIS officials from USA and Vietnam as well as US Embassy officials participated in the ribbon cutting ceremony at the new office in Ha Noi.

Here is Hana on the far left along with a group of Vietnam businesspersons at a reception.

Hana made sure that all of the officials knew that USA blueberries are on the move and on the ground in Vietnam!  She reminded all of the importance of market access for fresh blueberries to our growers back home.  They listened!

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

North Carolina Blueberry Moonshine

Ten years ago, Dr. Mike Mainland of North Carolina State University handed me a jar of Junior Johnston's Midnight Moon -- Blueberry Moonshine.   This is a legal moonshine bottled at 100 proof, 50% by alcohol volume.   The term "moonshine" is a term for a high proof distilled spirit which has been produced without government authorization or taxation.  Today production of these spirits has been legalized in a number of counties and is a legitimate business.  

As all of you south of the Mason-Dixon line know -- Junior Johnson is a legendary stock car driver -- with "nine lives" as they say in the business.  He honed his fast driving skills in the adult-beverage transportation business.  They call it "Moonshine Running."

Here is the jar of Junior's best. And thank you Mike!

Few family recipes carry a jail sentence.  But, to Junior Johnson's family, it was a way of life.  With the law on his heels, Junior ran the finest moonshine to the dry rural south.  Midnight Moon follows the Johnson family, small batch recipe.  It is proudly made with our very own hands and crafted with all natural blueberries!  

Tom's comment: Sometimes moonshine is pretty harsh.   Definitely strong and flammable!  Keep away from open flames!  The blueberry flavor really came through.   Time to order another jar!

Monday, February 5, 2018

Great Tasting Real Blueberry Cider

Jack and Charlie at Tomasello Winery in Hammonton, New Jersey have done it again.   This fourth-generation winemaking family and blueberry booster from Hammonton, New Jersey offer a wide line of excellent fruit wines including dry and sweet, 100% Blueberry Wines, Sparkling Blueberry Wine, Blueberry Forte' (like a port) and now:  Artisan Orchard Tomasello 4th Generation Blueberry Cider.

Jack sent me a bottle of this wonderful blueberry rich cider.  It contains a lot of blueberry juice and a great flavor!  The alcohol content is 5.7% by volume and I especially like the 22 oz bottle which lasted a whole Super Bowl Sunday!

To Jack at Tomasello Winery, keep 'em coming and we look forward to a Korean Style Blueberry Soju in the future!

Tomasello Winery

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Thanks for the Awesome-Amazing-Specialty Products!

One of the great things about my job is that I get to try some of the many specialty foods that are introduced each year.   Each day we find something new interesting and awesomely amazing!

Last month while searching for candidates for our Little Blue Dynamo Award, I discovered products that are true trailblazers.

Blueberry Hell from Hellfire Hot Sauces, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.

Here is what the company ha to say on the label .  "This multi-award winning sauce is our best selling sauce!  Featuring the Ultimate Superfruit -- the Blueberry and created with a special blend of hot and superhot peppers to create a fantastic balance of sweet and heat!  This sauce tastes great on just about anything including ice cream!  Enjoy

Tom's comment -- it is definitely one of the hottest hot sauces I have ever tasted.  There is a lot of blueberry in the product and the natural organic acids tent to mellow off the bite of the peppers.  I am not sure which pepper it is -- but well beyond heat of Scotch Bonnet or Habanero!  

The coolest thing about this hot sauce is the innovative packaging.  Note the blueberries morphing into sculls on the label!

I will definitely try this one on ice cream this evening!

Back to Blueberry Business.   America is a country of small businesses and these specialty food companies are innovators.   They work outside the box, avoid conformity and come up with the product ideas that the big companies will utilize years from now!  

Thanks to the specialty food pioneers.   You truly are awesome-amazing!  

Now to quench this was some Artisan Orchard blueberry cider!

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Super-Excellent-Slew of New Blueberry-Containing Products - January 2018

Hold onto your officially-licensed Super Bowl hats and take a quick spin through the January 2018 edition of new blueberry-containing products!

Friday, February 2, 2018

American Made Blueberry Extract!

Now -- This is exciting!  An American made blueberry extract from Futureceuticals (Van Drunen Farms, Momence, Illinois.   

Background: I recently did a search of the Alibaba (Chinese mega B2B platform) with the term: "blueberry extract."  It resulted in more than 14,000 products.  I did same with Watson's the mega pharmacy in Hong Kong which is found throughout Asia -- it resulted in another 500 blueberry extract products.  

These are products called blueberry extract, which are normally made from extraction of bilberries which are the European cousin of the highbush blueberry (Vaccinium Myrtillus).   This species grows wild in mountains and forests throughout Eastern Europe, the Balkans and Scandinavia.   Huge quantities are frozen and shipped to China for extraction and production of extracts and powders.  

 Several years ago, a researchers at a major Chinese university conducted studies that indicated that many of the commercial blueberry extracts and powders had little or no potency.

Recently a new generation of "blueberry extracts" have evolved including my favorite in Japan produced by Wakasa Seikatsu.   Any American visitor to Japan can attest that their "Blueberry Commercials" are quite convincing!  Seem to be broadcast 24 hrs. a day.  Note the price of 1,880 Japanese Yen ($17) for a small pack about the size of the moist towlettes provided at your neighborhood rib joint!  

Not to be confused with my all time favorite MLB pitcher - Vida Blue!

Now Back to Vita Blue.  Currently the product is sold as an ingredient, not a finished product.   The Made in the USA label is extremely important to product developers in foods, pet foods, nonfood and cosmetics.   Even the Chinese are getting excited about this!

What does it mean to US blueberry producers.   This is a big development that can and will use a lot of blueberry to create extractions.   It gives the US an entry to serve the natural cosmetic business and other nutraceutical uses at home and around the world.

You will be hearing a lot about this in the future!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Blueberry Progress in Middle East Region

The USHBC strategic plan directs us to "expand existing and markets and to seek out and explore and build new US and international markets for food and non food uses of blueberries."

The Middle East including the Gulf States shown above have an estimated population of more than 400 million.   It contains countries with some of the highest per capita income in the world and a consumer base open to consumption of new things .   (of course a small portion of the population has buying power for consumer goods) The populations are also supplemented with large numbers of Western Expats and guest workers from India, Philippines and other countries.   

The Middle East has been a pleasant surprise for US blueberry market development.  In 2012 when we attended our first Gulfood exposition in Dubai – we had do explain what a blueberry was.  
Each year, we could feel a growing interest and demand more and more blueberries in grocery stores around the region, and in food products as ingredients.  The key demand determinant is health (diabetes) and beauty (skin care) 

We have seen steady growth from near zero sales in 2008 to more than 1.6 million dollars in 2017 so far this year.    Most fresh are routed through Dubai, United Arab Emirates for grocery and hotel foodservice.   

Demand Determinants:
Almost each day a new article appears in a newspaper or magazine including news about blueberries.   At first, this was just in Dubai (United Arab Emirates) but now interest has spread all over the Gulf.   Next countries will include Pakistan and Iran as well as other Gulf states.  The food processing industry is also developing with bakeries, dairy and jam manufacturing – especially in Saudi Arabia.

Read Arabic?  Most businesspersons in the region read English, but we are ready just in case.  

See you in Dubai!