On the Road Again: Visiting Michigan’s Blueberry Country

After more than a year, the USHBC team was able to hit the road again, traveling to the Midwest for a series of meetings and events with members of the Michigan blueberry industry and grower community. On this episode of “The Business of Blueberries,” we sit down with two leaders of the Michigan blueberry industry to revisit the trip, discuss some of the key takeaways, and explore the state’s unique blueberry culture. 

Hosts Kasey Cronquist, president of the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council (USHBC) and the North American Blueberry Council (NABC), and Jill Scofield, USHBC and NABC director of communications and industry relations, are joined by Rex Schultz, grower and owner of Heritage Blueberries, member of the USHBC Innovation & Technology Committee and executive director of the Michigan Blueberry Advisory Committee; and Denny Vander Kooi, owner of Woodland Berries, chair of the Michigan Blueberry Commission and member of the NABC Trade Task Force. 

“What was really nice about the whole trip was the fact that we could get growers in front of you and give them a face to the name, and let them learn more about the USHBC and the role it plays in our lives.” – Rex Schultz

“It’s very interesting being in a traditional blueberry growing area where a lot of people used to pick blueberries as kids. We’re servicing some fourth-generation and fifth-generation people now who started picking with their great-grandpa.” – Denny Vander Kooi

Topics covered include: 

  • Key takeaways from meetings with Michigan blueberry growers.
  • Understanding challenges and opportunities in Michigan.
  • The state’s blueberry culture. 
  • Direct-to-consumer relationships and U-pick farms.
  • The importance of industry and grower engagement in USHBC efforts.

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 Mario Ramírez in Mexico, Neil Moore in North Carolina, Eric Stafne in Mississippi, and Bill Steed in California. This was recorded on May 26, 2021.

Marketing Boost

In this week’s Marketing Boost, USHBC/NABC Vice President of Marketing and Communications Jennifer Sparks discusses June’s Brain Health Month power period, during which USHBC will be highlighting recipes, resources, nutrition information and health research to shine a spotlight on blueberries as a delicious, simple and snackable option in a healthy diet. More information and resources you can share in your social channels are available in USHBC’s Brain Health Month Toolkit

Complete Our ‘Business of Blueberries’ Survey

As we approach the 50th episode of “The Business of Blueberries,” we hope you’ll take a few minutes 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!