The blueberry industry has faced no shortage of challenges, but 2020 has also dished out some sliver linings. Kasey Cronquist, CEO of the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, one of those, was the ability of hosting its virtual conference and expo.
“It really allowed the industry leaders to get together and reach more stakeholders within our industry than we ever could in an in-person event,” he said. “I certainly count that as one of those highlights—had this year been a typical year, we would have got together somewhere, but it wouldn’t have been as large of an audience for people to hear about some of the new things we’re doing at USHBC.
One of those is the “Grab a Boost of Blue” campaign that launched this year.
“It came out of the understanding we needed to be connecting the dots not just with consumers, but our industry in promoting the health message people are looking for,” said Cronquist. “Grab A Boost Of Blue does a great job of implying what people think of when they think about blueberries.”
Cronquist and USHBC also launched a new podcast this year, The Business of Blueberries.
“That has been a tremendous source of bringing the industry together as well—not just in terms of us talking about different subjects, but helping think through innovation and technology,” he said. “Thinking about the future and what’s still possible thanks to the kind of technologies that are coming our for the industry that gives us a lot of hope and inspiration for things to come for blueberries.”
Despite a global pandemic, USHBC was able to infiltrate in new markets.
“Vietnam, China, Phillippines—all marketing for registration in 2021 is now open for our industry to learn more about and get involved with moving fruit in other parts of the world,” said Cronquist.
Finding levity in 2020 can be difficult. Cronquist and USHBC are very excited with the latest round of emojis.
“This blueberry emoji has a lot of people excited and how they’re communicating about blueberries,” said Cronquist with a smile. “There’s certainly the connection back to the consumer as well, which is where we’ve focused a lot of time promoting this emoji to our industry and the world. Everybody wants to put that blueberry on their phone so they can tell their friends they’re eating blueberries and they should buy blueberries. To finally have the blueberry emoji was something exciting for our industry.”
Cronquist says the foundation that was set in 2020 is priming 2021 to be an exciting opportunity, particularly for the “Grab a Boost of Blue” campaign and exports.