U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council Update

Educational, fun, uniting, and inspiring are just a few of the words that describe the industry’s time together at the 2024 Blueberry Convention. A special thanks to more than 300 attendees who took time from their businesses and families to join us. 

If you weren’t able to attend, we missed you and hope you’ll join us at The Blueberry Summit on Sept. 25-27 in Denver.

Here’s a recap of our time together in beautiful Tucson. 

Day 1 – Let’s Kick Off the Festivities!

The Blueberry Convention kicked off with a Grab a Boost of Blue Golf Tournament, a welcome reception for exhibitors, the President's Welcome Reception, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the official opening of the trade show floor. 

Day 2 – Full Speed Ahead

Day two began bright and early with a BerryFit Club 5k run. Runners took in the sites of beautiful Tucson. The opening Keynote Breakfast with Soren Bjorn, CEO of Driscoll's, and Juan Ignacio Allende, CEO/Gerente General, Hortifrut, and Chairman of the Board of Driscoll's Foods, discussed the landscape of the blueberry industry. Other sessions of the day included Steve Mantle, Founder/CEO of innov8.ag, Cheyenne Sloan, Blueberry and Small Fruit Extension Educator, Michigan State University, Kristin Trippe, Ph.D., Forage Seed, Cereal Research, USDA-ARS, sharing insights into soil! During lunch, attendees also had the chance to attend the session, How Will the Economy Impact Blueberries? with David Magaña, senior analyst, horticulture, Rabobank. The afternoon continued with NABC members gathering for their board meeting and the annual crop report — an NABC member-only event, as well as the NABC United Blueberry Advisory Council meeting. The day concluded with the NABC and USHBC Reception and Dinner at The Last Territory, filled with stargazing, cornhole, and dancing. 

Day 3 – It’s Not Goodbye but I’ll See You Later

The final day together started for some with a bit of namaste at the BerryFit Club’s yoga session before kicking off the day with our keynote breakfast session with Melissa Byland, merchandising director, Walmart, and Kasey Cronquist, president, NABC/USHBC, examining a futuristic look at blueberry growth in retail. The afternoon continued with two concurrent lunch sessions. The first session discussed the latest and greatest harvest technology with Steve Mantle, Founder/CEO of innov8.ag, Marcel Beelen, FineField, Frank Brown, Littau Harvester, Laina Gray, OnTrack, and Chris Thiesen, Burro. The other lunch session, with Brian Bocock, vice president of product management at Naturipe Farms and chair of the USHBC promotions committee, and Kevin Hamilton, vice president of global marketing and communications at NABC/USHBC, discussed growing profitable demand.The last meeting of the day was the USHBC Council meeting, open to all attendees, providing a full update on the USHBC and its work on behalf of the industry. Attendees ended their night in the courtyard to toast all the possibilities for blueberries and share final farewells. 

If you weren’t able to attend this year’s Blueberry Convention, don’t worry, we will be coming together again at The Blueberry Summit in Denver, CO, Sept. 25-27, 2024.

North American Blueberry Council Update - Get to Know Us!

Founded in 1965, the North American Blueberry Council (NABC) continues to serve as a collaborating organization that strives to unite the voice, advocacy and resources of the blueberry industry to accomplish together what no one company could accomplish alone.

An example of this mission-driven effort can be seen in the leadership role NABC played in establishing the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council (USHBC) in 2000 to establish the resources necessary to grow demand, and again in 2021 when it organized the United Blueberry Task Force to facilitate a conversation on what more is needed for the industry to grow and prosper. 

The collective vision was formalized under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), and the United Blueberry Advisory Committee was formed to help continue to further grow and build upon that vision. Currently, a group of 14 companies are signatories of this MOU and committing their time, knowledge, trust and additional resources to better ensure that the industry’s dreams are matched with the necessary means. 

Collectively, this additional leadership and support has significantly contributed to the following achievements:

  • Launched an advocacy platform to help growers remain successful and competitive.

  • Hired Washington, D.C.-based Monument Advocacy. 

  • Hired NABC’s first Director of Government Affairs, Alyssa Houtby.

  • Launched Grab A Boost of Blue retail marketing programs resulting in measurable growth

  • Launched a fresh blueberry data platform. 

  • Launched a frozen blueberry data platform. 

  • Increased nutrition affairs efforts to drive awareness with policy makers and regulators about the health benefits of blueberries. 

  • Worked to improve the Department of Health & Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) dietary guidelines used for government procurement programs to include subcategories for fruits.

Since 2021, the MOU has raised $5,537,296. In 2023, the NABC was pleased to provide the USHBC with $2.8 million to increase consumer promotions and marketing to drive blueberry demand and improve the industry’s access to data and insights. The goal: Create a world-class industry database on supply, demand, historical price and inventory. 

Add your voice to NABC’s mission to be the united voice, advocate, and resource serving the interests of the blueberry industry today by becoming a member. Learn more at nabc.blueberry.org.

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