Topics in this issue of Behind the Blue:
- Are your Fields BerrySmart? Learn More at The Blueberry Summit
- USHBC Hosts Foodservice Operators at Behind the Blueberry Experience
- Increasing Household Penetration of Blueberries in North Carolina
USHBC’s BerrySmart Field project is a collaborative experience among growers, researchers and tech providers to optimize blueberry farming operations, focusing on soil, soil nutrients, yield distribution, weather, chemicals and labor. That’s a brief explanation of this critical project, but you can learn more about BerrySmart Field below, and during a special presentation at The Blueberry Summit, Sept. 27-29 in Savannah, Georgia!
In partnership with innov8.ag, the BerrySmart Field project is working to validate a smart farm network that enables blueberry growers, packers and stakeholders in sales, tech and research to collaborate on farm operation optimization, with better and more predictable yield outcomes.
A special session at the summit will cover the impacts of BerrySmart Field work on the industry, and will include a discussion of yield prediction and pollination solutions – plus all of the advancements in technologies that get us there.
Register for The Blueberry Summit to learn more about how to ensure your fields are berry smart!
This week, the USHBC is hosting the second annual Behind the Blueberry Experience, showcasing the growing region of Northern Washington and British Columbia.
The goal of the tour is to immerse high-volume foodservice operators in all aspects of the blueberry industry, allowing them to see and experience firsthand blueberry cultivation, harvest, packing and processing. Plus, attendees enjoy blueberry culinary inspiration at every meal.
Participants also partake in a culinary competition based on inspiration from the event to get their creative juices flowing and encourage them to think about blueberry applications to add to their menus when they return home.
This year’s attendees represent some of the top chains in the country by volume, including:
· Sonic Drive-In (3541 units)
· Jamba (797 units)
· Cinnabon (673 units)
· MOD Pizza (561 units)
· First Watch (500+ units)
· Carvel Ice Cream Cakes (358 units)
· Huddle House (339 units)
· Farmer Boys (101 units)
· Modern Market / Lemonade (60 units)
· True Food Kitchen (45 locations)
· Dessert Holdings (food manufacturing company, major manufacturer of desserts sold to foodservice restaurants)
· Tillamook (food manufacturing company, ice cream R&D attending)
As a result of last year’s event, multiple attendees menued new blueberry items – and we anticipate the same great result from this year’s event. We look forward to working with this year’s attendees to bring more blueberries to menus nationwide!
USHBC has fielded a pilot retail program in Charlotte, North Carolina, to gain insight into which tactics are most effective in driving household penetration for blueberries – with a goal of replicating what we learn in markets nationwide.
Spanning the second half of 2023, the program will implement a mix of marketing and promotional tactics in collaboration with Charlotte retailers to target non-buying households with messages promoting the taste, convenience and nutrition that blueberries offer.
Catalina checkout data shows the current penetration of fresh blueberries in the Charlotte market stands at 29% of households. This leaves 1.2 million households in the Charlotte DMA that have not purchased blueberries during the prior 52-week period.
Program tactics include TV and radio spots, targeted connected TV and digital ads, in-store audio advertising and targeted retailer emails delivered to non-buying households. Food Lion, Harris Teeter and Lowes Foods are enthusiastically supporting our program in their Charlotte stores, allowing access to their loyalty card databases for targeting purposes, as well as to track shoppers who purchase blueberries as a result of our activities.
We’re thrilled about the opportunities this pilot program offers, and look forward to analyzing the results after year’s end.