Blueberry producers launch new brand

Lowbush (“wild”) blueberry harvesters in Quebec, Atlantic Canada and Maine have unveiled plans to reposition and brand their product on its specific health merits.

The Wild Blueberry Association of North America (WBANA) plans to launch its ingredient marketing campaign during the Institute of Food Technologists’ annual conference this week in Anaheim, Calif.

The campaign, WBANA said, includes an updated logo: “Antioxidant Rich Wild Blueberries: Premium by Nature.” Trade advertising, trade show promotion, web site marketing and public relations will also figure in the new campaign.

“Our efforts will be focused on more aggressively communicating the natural premium characteristics and differentiating marketing elements of our special little wild blue fruit,” WBANA president J. Kim Higgins said in a release Thursday.

Among the fruit’s “distinct advantages” for ingredient users, the trade association said, are its “wild” mystique, size, taste, “superior” performance and “antioxidant power.”

The fruit’s “wild” mystique refers to its geographic origin and natural growing conditions in eastern Maine and Atlantic Canada, the Maine-based association said.

In terms of its use as a “natural” food ingredient, the association said, its product has an advantage in being smaller than cultivated blueberries, thus delivering more berries per pound for “better looking, better tasting products.”

The berries also maintain their taste, texture, shape and colour through processing and food preparation, and can be frozen with their “quality and nutritional value intact” for the frozen fruit retail sector in supermarkets.

As well, the group said, “nature endowed wild blueberries with more antioxidant capacity per serving than most other fruit ingredients including their cultivated blueberry cousins, making them a powerfully appealing anti-aging superfruit.”

Unlike cultivated highbush blueberries, lowbush blueberries aren’t planted but spread primarily by rhizomes or underground runners, leading to new shoots and stems.

The wild blueberry has already established grocery store shelf space in frozen, canned, jarred, dried and fresh forms, and also been marketed to food processors in concentrate, puree, powder and extruded forms, the association said.

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