What's happening in the blueberry FoodTech World

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!

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