Reminder to Take Behind the Blue Audience Survey

Topics in this issue of Behind the Blue:

Reminder to Take Behind the Blue Audience Survey

Calling all Behind the Blue readers: We’re seeking your input on our survey as we reimagine the newsletter for the coming year! The first 10 people to complete the survey will receive free blueberry swag and one lucky person will win the USHBC branded OGIO backpack!

Would you like to see more of certain types of content? A different cadence for when or how often you want to hear from us? What kind of information provides the most value to your operation? Your feedback is important and will be thoughtfully considered as we evolve our email marketing communications to deliver timely, useful content. Our goal is to ensure that you continue to count on USHBC as your go-to resource for blueberry industry news and information, shared when you need it most. 

Please take a few minutes to complete the short, 12-question survey here. Thank you in advance for your input!

Application Period Opens for Pandemic Response and Safety Grant Program

Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a Request for Applications for the Pandemic Response and Safety (PRS) Grant program. This new program will provide financial support to small producers, processors, distributors and farmers’ markets affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speciality crop producers, including blueberry growers with an annual average revenue of less than $5 million, are eligible to seek assistance. If qualified, you can apply for funding to help cover a variety of COVID-related expenses, including workplace safety measures, worker housing, facility retrofits and costs associated with shifting to online sales platforms.

Applications must be submitted via the grant portal by 11:59 p.m. ET on Monday, November 22. Application resources, including FAQs and instructional videos detailing how to apply, are available on the PRS Portal.

September Nielsen Report Now Available

Our most recent Nielsen report for the week ending September 25, 2021, is available here. The report shows total blueberry sales up +4% in dollars, but down -5.7% in units and -6.5% in volume relative to the record-setting pandemic lockdown sales of September 2020. Performance metrics for the fresh and frozen blueberry segments during September 2021 include:

  • Fresh blueberry retail dollars were up +5%, but volume was down -6.6%.
  • Frozen blueberries were down -2.9% in dollars and -6.4% in volume.

Although lower than the record-setting sales in September of last year, fresh and frozen blueberry sales are still higher than historical levels. When compared to retail sales in September 2019, fresh volume is up +29.2% and dollars up +27.3% in 2021, and frozen blueberry retail volume is +16.7% higher, with dollars up +27.8%.

These retail sales reports are intended to supplement our industry members’ internal data, giving you a clearer picture of the marketplace and supporting more informed business decisions and plans. 
Summaries of the preceding month’s retail sales performance are posted at the end of the second week of every month. Find the full list of reports at

Leslie Wada Named USHBC/NABC’s First-Ever Senior Director of Nutrition and Health Research

Last week, USHBC announced the appointment of Leslie Wada, Ph.D., RD, as senior director of nutrition and health research. A longtime consultant for the council, Wada will continue to manage USHBC’s multi-million dollar pipeline of health research projects as she has for the past 12 years. In her expanded role, Wada will have increased ownership and responsibility in leading the health and nutrition pillar of the USHBC’s 2021-2025 strategic plan, integrating the research projects and results with the council’s overall strategy in marketing and promotions. 

A registered dietitian with an undergraduate degree in nutrition and dietetics from the University of California, Davis, Wada earned a Ph.D. in nutritional sciences from the University of California, Berkeley. She worked as a research scientist on nutrition studies and taught classes in dietetics at UC Berkeley before leaving academia to work with companies that developed functional foods and ingredients. For the past 20+ years, she has worked as an independent consultant for companies in the food and agriculture industry.

To hear Wada tell the story of the heart-healthy properties of blueberries, check out this podcast episode of “The Business of Blueberries” from earlier in the year.