By Frank Giles
The Florida Blueberry Growers Association hosted its annual short course in Howey-in-the-Hills, Florida, in October. The meeting featured educational sessions ranging from optimizing pollination and marketing to chilli thrips control and new varieties. Growers were in good spirits at the meeting, despite impacts from Hurricane Ian. While some growers further south in the state took a hard hit, overall, the industry was spared the worst of the storm.
While Florida’s blueberry market window has been squeezed by competition from foreign producers, the good news is blueberry consumption continues to grow every year with room for more growth.
Kasey Cronquist, the president of the North American Blueberry Council and the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council (USHBC), provided an update on marketing and promotion efforts to make blueberries the most popular fruit across the globe. He said finding and exploiting new markets will keep the consumption growth trend going and prices strong.
“It is truly a global vision, and we encourage our industry to work together to make blueberries the world’s favorite fruit. Why? Because there are so many people that have not experienced and enjoyed blueberries like we have (here in the United States),” Cronquist said.
Cronquist discussed the “Grab a Boost of Blue” marketing campaign the USHBC launched a couple of years ago. He said the campaign has been successful and translates well in other countries where marketing efforts are being deployed. The idea is to create a unifying message of the health benefits of blueberries, their great taste, versatility and convenience as a snack.
“The blueberry is still the darling of the produces department. You are still in a great place to grow with those partners who recognize the position of blueberries to maintain a much higher value.”
To do that the USHBC launched power periods throughout the year to push the Grab a Boost of Blue message with brands, retailers and other marketing partners. Cronquist said as global blueberry production continues to grow and year-round supply increases, these marketing efforts to build consumption will be critical in maintaining prices.
The educational presentations from the short course will be posted on the Florida Blueberry Growers Association website.