Lessons in Leadership: A Conversation With Tom Bodtke

For the 50th episode of “The Business of Blueberries,” there’s simply no better opportunity to bring back longtime industry leader Tom Bodtke for another conversation about what’s ahead for the blueberry industry.

Host Kasey Cronquist, president of the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council (USHBC) and the North American Blueberry Council (NABC), is joined by Tom Bodtke, owner of Cornerstone Ag Enterprises based in Michigan, a USHBC board member, member of the USHBC Industry Relations Committee and past chair of the NABC. 

“It’s going to take new and different channels to move the increasing amount of production of blueberries. New varieties can make a difference in that, but hopefully in the big picture, we can sell more blueberries at stronger pricing, and that’s going to take more investment on the front end.” – Tom Bodtke

“I don’t think our goal is to raise demand or consumption at a lower price point, the idea is that you’re going to sell more berries at the same or higher price point. That’s what true demand lift is, and that’s what we’re seeking to do at the USHBC.” – Tom Bodtke 

“I do believe the job ahead is to improve the demand in the marketplace, combined with that eating experience where we’re exceeding the expectations of the consumer to the point where we’re infusing energy into the category and people keep coming back to blueberries.That’s an exciting future.” – Kasey Cronquist

Topics covered include: 

  • Lessons in leadership from a blueberry industry veteran. 
  • The importance of the industry coming together to address challenges. 
  • What’s needed to continue growth of the blueberry category.
  • Opportunities ahead for the industry. 

Crop Report

The Blueberry Crop Report is an update on crop conditions and markets throughout North and South America. In this episode, you’ll hear from Juan Soria in Mexico, Elizabeth Carranza in California, Derrin Wheeler in Georgia, Neil Moore in North Carolina, and Eric Stafne in Mississippi. This was recorded on June 2, 2021.  

Marketing Boost

“Grab a Boost of Blue and Walnuts, Too!” That’s the focus of this week’s Marketing Boost, in which USHBC/NABC Vice President of Marketing and Communications Jennifer Sparks shares an exciting new partnership with the California Walnut Board that comes just in time for Brain Health Month. Throughout the month of June, this strategic collaboration will involve 290 retail stores in 12 regions of the country. The program will include digital and in-store components showcasing easy, delicious ways to enjoy both blueberries and walnuts, and inspiring shoppers to purchase and eat more of this power combination. 

Reminder: Complete Our ‘Business of Blueberries’ Survey

With 50 episodes of “The Business of Blueberries” now under our belts, we want to remind you to share your feedback with us. This brief survey is your chance to share what you like about the podcast, what we could do better and what topics you’d like us to explore further. Plus, by completing the survey, you’ll be entered to win a “Business of Blueberries” YETI tumbler!