FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Kasey Cronquist
The U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council (USHBC) has appointed three influential leaders with decades of experience in the blueberry industry to its committees.
Appointed to the USHBC Promotion Committee are John Johnston, senior director of blueberry product leadership for Driscoll’s, and Amanda Steele, chief marketing officer for Agriculture Capital.
Ellie Norris, owner of Norris Blueberry Farms in Oregon, was appointed to the USHBC Export Subcommittee.
“We’re grateful for the expertise John, Amanda and Ellie bring to our committees and for their willingness to volunteer their time to move the blueberry industry forward,” said USHBC President Kasey Cronquist.
The Promotion Committee is charged with driving consumer demand and promoting the health benefits of blueberries. The committee, chaired by Bob Carini of Carini Farms in Michigan, will meet in Dallas in November to review new agency proposals for USHBC’s food service program and finalize marketing and promotion tactics for 2020.
“Driscoll’s has found that flavor differentiation and health benefits are key factors driving the increased consumer demand for fresh blueberries,” Johnston said. “I look forward to serving on the USHBC Promotion Committee to help drive continued growth of the blueberry industry.”
“I’m honored to have the opportunity to work with the USHBC Promotion Committee to continue the great work the industry is doing to drive blueberry demand. With over 20 years of food marketing and management experience, I’ve seen the transformation in food as consumers increasingly demand better, healthier, real foods. It’s no wonder that blueberries are the fastest growing fresh fruit as they meet consumer needs for great taste, health and convenience,” Steele said. “I look forward to learning from the industry and contributing my ‘consumer first’ point of view to the Promotion Committee.”
The Export Subcommittee’s responsibilities include opening new foreign markets and marketing U.S. highbush blueberries around the world. The majority of the Export Subcommittee’s annual budget is funded by USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) Trade Programs.
“Developing export markets is a top priority for the U.S. highbush blueberry industry and I look forward to working with fellow blueberry growers and marketers on the USHBC Export Subcommittee to develop strategic programs that will move us forward,” Norris said.
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.
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The U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council (USHBC) is an agriculture promotion and research group made up of blueberry farmers, processors and importers who work together to research, innovate and promote the growth and well-being of the blueberry industry. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides independent oversight of the organization.