Apr 9, 2018
Behind-the-scenes look at Driscoll’s blackberry development

Driscoll’s on April 9 published ‘Pursuit of Flavor,’ a series of web videos exploring its work in berry breeding research.

The video launch is timed with Driscoll’s peak season for blackberries.

In one of the videos, Driscoll’s Global Plant Breeding Director Gavin Sills describes how he was tasked with developing blackberries from wild roadside plants into a marketable consumer good.

“The product that we produced in southern California during the winter was okay,” Sills says in the video. “When you take that same genetics and test it in central Mexico, where it’s nice and toasty all winter long, they become spectacular. I remember tasting that first berry from the vine. After 20 years of blackberry breeding, we finally had something special. It’s a flavor unlike any other berry. It’s delicious, rich berry, that perfect balance of sweet and acid.”

Under the leadership of both Sills and his predecessor Carlos Fear, the entire blackberry category has seen tremendous growth with nearly 10 million new households entering the category since 2011. In this same time period, there has been an approximately 25 percent increase in the annual consumption rate of blackberries, according to an estimate by Driscoll’s

Despite this category growth, Driscoll’s notes that there is still ample room for increased sales. In 2011, fewer than one in five households consumed blackberries. Today, one in four households consume blackberries. Driscoll’s plans to increase household penetration for fresh blackberries through a remarkably improved flavor profile.

The ‘Pursuit of Flavor’ miniseries also includes an episode featuring J. Miles Reiter — Driscoll’s chairman, a fourth-generation grower and the grandson of one of Driscoll’s founders. Other episodes in the series highlight the past, present, and future of each of the four berries, through the art and science of natural plant breeding and the philosophy of pioneering superior flavor through proprietary berry varieties.

“This new miniseries is a response to our highly engaged brand advocates who crave transparency of the craftsmanship that goes into growing great berries,” said Diane Scalisi, senior digital marketing manager for Driscoll’s.

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