A recently-published study found that individuals with metabolic syndrome who consumed a cup of blueberries every day for six months had measureable improvements in their cardiac health. Photo: PR Newswire/USHBC

Oct 11, 2019
US Highbush Blueberry Council discusses trade, promotion efforts

Last week in Tri-Cities, Washington, the U.S. High Bush Blueberry Council (USHBC) Board of Directors approved the industry’s largest export promotion budget to date, highlighting the organization’s commitment to expanding the global market for U.S. highbush blueberries.

Increasing exports of fresh, frozen and further processed blueberries is a primary goal of the  USHBC strategic plan, and the USHBC Export Subcommittee allocates funding each year to drive consumer demand and facilitate market access around the world. The majority of the Export Subcommittee’s annual budget is funded by USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) Trade Programs.

In 2020, USHBC will use USDA FAS Market Access Program (MAP) and Agricultural Trade Promotion (ATP) funding to conduct targeted promotions (including retail and food service partnerships, and media campaigns) in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. In Southeast Asia, where blueberry consumption is rapidly growing, USHBC aims to increase the U.S. market share, especially in countries like the Philippines and Vietnam where fresh market access is new or pending.

In addition to promotion, USHBC will fund research in support of NABC’s effort to address trade barriers facing U.S. exporters, including sanitary and phytosanitary issues and maximum residue limits. Specifically, USHBC received Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops (TASC) funding to research and evaluate kill steps for blueberry maggot and spotted winged drosophila (SWD), which are pests of concern to Australia and New Zealand, among others. The TASC program will also fund USHBC’s efforts to establish permanent maximum residue levels (MRL) in South Korea prior to Jan. 1, 2022.

Lastly, USHBC will use Emerging Markets Program (EMP) and Quality Samples Program (QSP) funding to identify and develop new opportunities for frozen, dried and further processed blueberries in emerging export markets like Vietnam, Myanmar and South Africa.

Please visit ushbc.org/export and the USHBC Export Database for information regarding 2018 blueberry export activity. 2019 export information will be coming shortly.

USHBC announces new data, analysis in export database

Are you looking for export/import data on your target markets in Asia? Do you want to track the latest updates on trade negotiations with China, Japan or the European Union? Do you need easy access to in-country experts?

The USHBC Export Database offers blueberry market data for 28 countries and regions around the world. Data is updated annually, and trade issues are monitored and updated as changes occur. Last week at the NABC/USHBC Fall Meeting in Tri-Cities, Washington, the USHBC Export Subcommittee announced the availability of new data and analysis.

Topics include: trade issues (including sanitary and phytosanitary barriers to trade, tariffs and maximum residue levels and testing practices), competition and export data, status of free trade agreements, USHBC promotional programming, product distribution characteristics and consumer preferences. The export database also provides contact information for U.S. and foreign government officials, as well as USHBC in-country representatives.

Promotions efforts outlined

With over 150 industry stakeholders gathered in Richland, Washington, to participate in USHBC’s promotions committee meeting and hear the latest on USHBC’s efforts to increase consumer demand for blueberries.

The Promotions Committee led by Chair, Bob Carini, gathered on Thursday, Oct. 3 to hear about the domestic consumer, health and food service programs designed to encourage consumers to eat more blueberries.  Adam Brohimer, President of Category Partners, shared recently conducted U.S. Nielsen retail sales data highlighting performance in the category for fresh and frozen blueberries. From 2017-2018, fresh blueberry volume is up 5.2% and dollars are up 9.3% while total fruit sales were only up 0.8%.

Adam Brohimer, president of Category Partners, shared recent Nielsen retail sales data highlighting performance in the category for fresh and frozen blueberries. He highlighted that from 2017-2018, fresh blueberry volume was up 5.2% and dollars were up 9.3%, while total fruit sales were only up 0.8%. He also shared a seasonal analysis report showing blueberry sales and volume throughout the year.

Victoria De Bruin, marketing manager for USHBC, highlighted research for the 2019 Usage and Attitude (U&A) Study and a health professional study conducted this summer. Health awareness of the benefits of blueberries rebounded in 2019 to 63% from 57% in 2017. De Bruin also shared that for our current target audience referred to as fruit lovers (moderate users) and foodies (heavy users) intent to purchase blueberries in the next month rose to 76% from 62% in 2017. She explained that these studies will serve as baseline measures for our programs, and results are being used to inform our 2020 plan targeting new consumer segments, fondly referred to as Overwhelmed Young Families and Fun-Loving Freshness Fans (include the target audiences slides as graphics).

De Bruin also shared that the council funded a large, long-term human study that was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in May. The research study found that participants with metabolic syndrome who consumed the equivalent of one cup of fresh blueberries, given as 26g of freeze-dried blueberries, showed clinically relevant changes in measures of heart health. More than a year ago, USHBC began developing plans for promoting the findings of this important study to millions of health professionals and blueberry users nationwide.

The Council’s agency, Padilla, presented results from the 2019 consumer, health and food service plan and the first quarter Positively Bluetiful plan for 2020 to reach fruit lovers (moderate blueberry users) and Foodies (heavy users). The plan included a digital advertising campaign, influencer marketing, social media content strategies, retail shopping activations and media coverage.

The council’s communication and advertising agency, Padilla, presented results from the 2019 consumer, health and food service plan and the first quarter “Positively Bluetiful” plan for 2020 to reach our target audience of fruit lovers and foodies. The plan included a digital advertising campaign, influencer marketing, social media content strategies, retail shopping activations and media coverage.

The Promotion Committee’s request for $4.5 million for promotion and marketing was approved by the board for 2020. The committee will be convening an additional meeting in Dallas, Nov. 5-6, 2019, to review new agency proposals for USHBC’s food service program as well as finalize marketing and promotion tactics for Q2 through Q4 of 2020. If you would like to learn more about the campaign efforts, contact USHBC Marketing Manager Victoria De Bruin at [email protected].

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