Posts Tagged “blueberries”

Examining Whether Eating Berries Reduces the Effects of Stress

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More consumption of berries has been associated with reduced stress indicators, according to a study by Penn State University. Published in the journal Nutrients, the research looked at the link between berry consumption and the allostatic load in U.S. adults.

According to the research abstract, allostatic load is an aggregate measure of chronic stress-induced indicators across cardiovascular, metabolic, autonomic and immune systems. The research found that greater consumption of berries was associated with a lower composite allostatic load score.

“The mean [allostatic load] composite scores for consumers of any berries (11.9), strawberries (11.6), and blueberries (11.6), respectively, were significantly lower than nonconsumers (12.3), after fully adjusting for sociodemographic, lifestyle, and dietary confounders,” the abstract said. “A significant dose-response relationship was determined between greater consumption of total berries, strawberries, and blueberries and lower mean [allostatic load] composite scores.”

In conclusion, researchers said that “increasing berry intake is a simple dietary modification that could reduce stress-related morbidity/comorbidity and promote health.”

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Blueberries: Heart-Smart Choices for American Heart Month

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FOLSOM, Calif. – The U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council (USHBC) is encouraging consumers to make heart-smart choices – like grabbing a boost of blue – in February for American Heart Month. A growing body of scientific evidence shows that blueberries can be part of eating patterns to improve heart health, especially as part of an overall healthy lifestyle. To promote more heart-healthy boosts of blue, USHBC is sharing blueberry recipes, nutrition information, research and more throughout the month. Health professionals in USHBC’s “Blue Crew” will also contribute original recipes, blog posts and social media content as part of the campaign. 

American Heart Month serves as a valuable reminder to keep heart health top of mind, as heart disease continues to be a major health concern in the U.S. The term “heart disease” refers to several types of heart conditions, including coronary artery disease, the most common; it decreases blood flow to the heart and can cause heart attacks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cites heart disease as the leading cause of death among both men and women today. 

One of the best ways to help fight heart disease is to maintain an overall healthy dietary pattern and lifestyle, according to the American Heart Association®. Blueberries are Heart-Check certified through the American Heart Association Heart-Check Food Certification Program. Each serving (a handful or cup) is a good source of fiber, which helps support heart health and digestive health. And, whether fresh or frozen, blueberries provide a variety of vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin K and manganese.

“The heart is at the center of everything we do, and keeping it healthy isn’t just about exercise – it’s about nutrition, too. Blueberries are a heart-healthy choice, delivering a wide variety of beneficial vitamins and minerals,” said Manuel Villacorta, MS, RDN, an internationally recognized, award-winning registered dietitian nutritionist, author, and founder and owner of MV Nutrition. “Even better, every boost of blue is packed with flavor, and that’s important. When you enjoy what you eat, you’re more likely to stick to those healthy eating habits. Simple, delicious blueberries make it easy.” 

The February promotion is USHBC’s first “power period” of 2023, which is part of Grab a Boost of Blue, a strategic positioning and call to action backed by new tools and consumer research for retailers. The Heart Health Month toolkit, available now, features plug-and-play social posts and digital ads, tip sheets, recipe cards and other resources. The toolkit will be promoted in USHBC’s health professional and consumer e-newsletters, along with a new consumer landing page. The Blueberries and Heart Health page provides blueberry health information and engages fans with an interactive quiz to find Heart-Check certified recipes tailored to their preferences. 

USHBC also is engaging consumers through American Heart Month activations with 10 key blueberry retailers. In addition to vibrant blueberry displays, activations include a variety of consumer communications and resources unique to each retailer, such as feature ads, in-store audio ads and announcements, email blasts, social media activations, broadcast segments with local media, and more.    

Several partnerships also will help amplify blueberry and heart health messaging – in February and beyond. During American Heart Month, USHBC will send an e-blast to WebMD’s 80,000 heart-health focused consumers, driving to them to the landing page and quiz, as well as a research-focused e-blast to SmartBrief’s eatrightPRO audience of registered dietitians and nutrition professionals. The Produce for Better Health website also will have a blueberry display ad and featured blueberry recipe. Later in the year, USHBC will participate in the American Heart Association’s 2023 Heart Challenge/Wall Street Run & Heart Walk in New York as a sponsor.

“Heart health is a serious topic, but we make it fun for consumers to form healthy habits – like taking a quiz to find heart-healthy blueberry recipes. A boost of blue makes every meal more nutritious and delicious,” said Kasey Cronquist, president of the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council. “We’re always excited to partner with trusted health professionals and share simple, tasty ways to enjoy blueberries, supporting healthy hearts and happy taste buds.”

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About the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council

The U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council is an agriculture research and promotion group, representing blueberry growers and packers in North and South America who market their blueberries in the United States and overseas, and works to promote the growth and well-being of the entire blueberry industry. The blueberry industry is committed to providing blueberries that are grown, harvested, packed and shipped in clean, safe environments. Learn more at blueberrycouncil.org.

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Report: North American Market Remains Crucial for the Blueberry Industry

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The North American market remains crucial for the blueberry industry, according to Dutch multinational banking and financial services company Rabobank. Because of the U.S. is one of the main destination markets, it is focusing on availability as demand for year-round conventional and organic blueberries remains steady.

Rabobank noted in a report on the global blueberry industry, while fresh blueberry production in the U.S. has grown at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3% over the past 10 years and at a rate of 7% over the past 20 years, availability in the U.S. market has expanded at CAGRs of 9% and 11%, respectively.

“Since 2016, U.S. imports have consistently outpaced US domestic production as the industry has focused on providing reliable year-round availability to U.S. consumers,” the report said.

On the other hand, the appraisal states U.S. exports have remained flat or declining. Going forward, U.S. blueberry imports “will continue to grow during the U.S. offseason, potentially setting new records every year for the next few seasons.”

In 2021, exports of non-organic fresh highbush blueberries from the US were 14% higher than in 2012, showing an increasing concentration of shipments with Canada as their market destination.

Over the past decade, other markets importing U.S. produce included Mexico, South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Singapore, and Hong Kong.

During the January-July period of 2022, U.S. imports increased 10% year-on-year as the Peruvian season has been starting earlier every year. Also, 2021 marked the first calendar year Mexico displaced Chile as the second largest supplier of non-organic blueberries to the U.S. market .

U.S. imports from Argentina and Uruguay have dropped significantly in recent years as these countries face increased competition in the international market. The average annual unit value of U.S. imports appears to have stabilized as supplies have increased during the shoulders of the season, when prices were the highest.

Harvested acreage in selected U.S. states has almost doubled over the past 15 years, Rabobank notes. According to USDA figures, harvested area in Washington and Georgia has grown fivefold and fourfold, respectively, to over 20,000 acres in both states. Moreover, most states show a positive trend in harvested acreage.

The report states average yields of tame blueberries vary significantly by state. Volumes go from 5,000 to 6,000 pounds per acre to 10,000 to 11,000 pounds per acre, according to government statistics.

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Fresh Blueberry Supplies Expand with Year-Round Blueberries

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by Jaclyn Kramer, USDA

Blueberries are the second-most produced berries in the United States, after strawberries. Over the past 10 years, the total supply of fresh blueberries available for American consumption has increased fivefold. Availability of fresh blueberries to U.S. consumers has grown at a faster pace than that of fresh strawberries over that same time. U.S. production and imports of blueberries both have been increasing rapidly to meet year-round consumer demand.

In 2010, New Jersey, Georgia, and Michigan were the biggest U.S. producers of fresh-market blueberries — blueberries that are not directed to the processed market. California, Washington, and Florida were smaller producers. By 2019, the U.S. blueberry sector had expanded as Georgia, California, and Oregon emerged as the largest suppliers, each accounting for roughly 17 percent of U.S. production. USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service reported fresh-market blueberry shipments from eight States in 2019: California, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, and Washington.

Since 2010, the U.S. blueberry production season has expanded into the spring and late summer/early fall months (see figure above). The Florida crop now typically arrives on the market beginning in March and ending in May. Georgia enters the market in mid- to late April, followed by other major producing States, which come into production through the summer. Since 2010, growers in Florida and Georgia have advanced their season using newer cultivars. In eastern Washington, dry growing conditions and relatively little pest pressure have led to the growth in blueberry production there as well as an extended early season. While the harvest ends in September for growers throughout the United States (except in California, which ships small amounts throughout the year), Washington, Michigan, and Oregon ship into October with the use of controlled atmosphere storage.

Despite seasonal expansion of domestic production, U.S. blueberry supplies remain lower from fall to early spring. Consumer demand for year-round blueberries has encouraged all who can increase production in those months to do so. Production overseas has correspondingly expanded in response.

U.S. fresh blueberry imports grew rapidly over the past decade; on average, the U.S. imported 60 percent of blueberries consumed during 2017-19, up from an average of 50 percent from 2010-12. In 2010, Chile was the main foreign supplier of fresh-market blueberries to the United States, and Peru and Mexico produced much smaller quantities of blueberries.

By 2019, however, Mexico and Peru began increasing their share of the U.S. blueberry import market. For instance, Peru’s blueberry exports have grown exponentially in the last decade: by 2019, Peru had become the leading supplier of U.S. blueberry imports. About 80 percent of U.S. blueberry imports in 2019 were sourced from three countries: Peru, Chile, and Mexico. The boost in imports from these countries is a likely result of increased cultivation of newer varieties and expanded acreage devoted to blueberries in relatively new producers of blueberries, such as Peru and Mexico.

In 2010, there was little overlap in U.S. and foreign blueberry supplies in the domestic market, and the periods between seasons had higher grower prices. Since 2010, domestic and foreign blueberry seasons have extended. Imports from Mexico in early spring have grown, somewhat offsetting imports from Chile, while Florida and Georgia now harvest more in March and April. About 70 percent of import shipments in September and October 2019 were from Peru, increasing competition for producers in Michigan, Washington, and Oregon, where shipments continue until October.

This increase in U.S. production and imports has led to an increase of blueberry supplies in the domestic market, and prices in the U.S. off-season are now lower (see below figure). Correspondingly, the overall price level in 2019 was lower, with smaller price increases in the early spring and fall months. Lower prices that occur as domestic supplies increase are ultimately benefitting U.S. consumers.

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Blueberries are No. 1 Recommended Fruit, Survey Concludes

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Blueberries are recommended frequently or always 86 percent of the time, according to a survey of about 200 U.S. based dietitians. The survey was conducted by the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council of Folsom, CA.

Other fruits with high levels of support include strawberries, apples and oranges, according to a news release.

“We’re committed to working with registered dietitians because they’re at the forefront of making a positive difference in the health of Americans by providing science-based dietary and lifestyle recommendations,” Kasey Cronquist, president of USHBC, said in the release. “It’s part of the mission of the USHBC to continuously investigate the role blueberries may play in promoting good health, and it’s encouraging to see that research is reflected by the health professional community.”

The survey revealed:

  • 88 percent of surveyed of dietitians said blueberries are rich in vitamins and minerals;
  • 85 percent of those polled said one cup of blueberries as a good source of fiber; and 
  • 78 percent of those surveyed said cited plant polyphenols in blueberries.

Earlier this year, research published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that found participants with metabolic syndrome who consumed the equivalent of one cup of fresh blueberries showed clinically relevant changes in measures of heart health, according to the release. The council said it will continue to communicate with health professionals about the science-backed benefits of blueberries. Information on the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council’s health professional programs is available at ushbc.org/health. 

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Canadian Research on Blueberry Health Benefits is reviewed

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The health benefits of blueberries is backed by a substantial amount of evidence. A recent paper outlines what is known so far.

The paper, called Recent Research on the Health Benefits of Blueberries and Their Anthocyanisns was published in Advances in Nutrition.

“This review of research findings will help consumers, healthcare providers and the food and health industry understand the current state of knowledge on blueberries and health,” Wilhelmina Kalt, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Kentville Research and Development Centre, Kentville, Nova Scotia, Canada, the paper’s lead editor, said in a news release. “The paper also discusses gaps where more research is needed to better understand how blueberries affect health.” 

The authors review the scientific literature on blueberries’ potential health benefits, according to the news release, and also looks at the research on anthocyanins (163.3 mg/100 g of blueberries) – the polyphenol (plant compound), that give blueberries their vibrant blue color.

“It can be safely stated that daily moderate intake (50 mg anthocyanins, one-third cup of blueberries) can mitigate the risk of diseases and conditions of major socioeconomic importance in the Western world,” the paper said in its conclusion.

The review paper was funded by the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, but the council had no role in the design, data collection, data analysis, data interpretation or writing of the paper, according to the release.

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Two Tasty New Berries from USDA Developed

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by Sharon Durham, USDA AgResearch Magazine

Up until the early 1900s, blueberries were picked from the wild, and the bushes of the berries often did not survive when transplanted elsewhere. True domestication-involving propagation of the plant by the grower and plant breeding to improve desirable traits-was beyond reach until 1910. That’s when USDA botanist Frederick Coville discovered that blueberry bushes require moist, acidic soil to thrive. In 1916, exactly a century ago, the first commercial cultivated crop ofberries highbush blueberries was harvested.

That history is now enhanced by Baby Blues, a cultivar released in cooperation with the Oregon State University’s Agricultural Experiment Station and the Washington State University’s Agricultural Research Center (ARS). This new blueberry is making its debut during the 100th anniversary of the first cultivated blueberry crop to go to market.

“Baby Blues is a vigorous, high-yielding, small-fruited, machine-harvestable highbush blueberry with outstanding fruit quality. It’s well-suited for those processing markets that require a small fruit size,” says Finn. “Baby Blues should offer growers and processors an alternative to the low-yielding Rubel highbush blueberry, and it may thrive in milder areas where northern highbush blueberries are grown.”

Finn also developed a new blackberry named Columbia Giant. This thornless, trailing blackberry cultivar came from the same breeding program as Baby Blues and was also released in cooperation with the Oregon State University’s Agricultural Experiment Station.

“This cultivar is a high-quality, high-yielding, machine-harvestable blackberry with firm, sweet fruit that, when processed, is similar to or better in quality than fruit from the industry standards Marion and Black Diamond,” says Finn. “Due to its extremely large size, however, Columbia Giant will most commonly be sold in the fresh market.”

Columbia Giant is adaptable to areas where other trailing blackberries successfully grow.

“Two Tasty New Berries From ARSwas published in the September 2016 issue of AgResearch Magazine.

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Younger Consumers are More Apt to Buy Peaches

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Young consumers are more likely to buy peaches than older people, and those 18- to 24-year-olds prefer crisp, firm peaches with good flavor, a new University of Florida study shows.

In fact, people aged 51 to 68 are the least interested in buying peaches. Those of that age who do buy peaches prefer sweet, melting-texture peaches. Although they did not study the reason older people don’t like peaches as much, UF/IFAS scientists think older consumers may have repeatedly bought poor-quality peaches in the past, triggering an interest in other fruits.

Overall, consumers want sweet, tasty peaches that melt in your mouth, she said.
In the newly published study titled: “In Pursuit of the Perfect Peach,” Olmstead led an experiment in which 300 consumers took an online survey, then sampled peaches at two Florida farmers’ markets.

The study showed the “ideal peach” depended on combinations of fruit qualities. Peaches labeled as “so sweet … no sugar was needed” were most likely be purchased, reflecting what previous UF/IFAS research has found about strawberries and blueberries.

Furthermore, like the prior UF/IFAS research on blueberries, even though peaches are known to contain antioxidants, consumers buy them more for their taste than their nutritive value, the study showed.

Although consumers wanted sweet, absolute sugar concentrations, there is something other than sweetness that leads to overall liking, the study showed. It could be acid content and aromas, Olmstead said.

Most consumers prefer melting peaches, but small segments also like crisp and firm fruit, the study showed.

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Salmonella Can Grow on Bruised Blueberries

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DSCN3762+1Salmonella can grow on bruised blueberries kept at shipping or retail display temperatures, according to a new study in the  Journal of Food Protection.  The study was conducted by researchers at the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Citrus Research and Education Center at the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Florida,

Strawberries and blueberries harvested at or near full-ripe maturity and softer than those that are not as ripe and therefore more susceptible to bruising during harvest and transport. The researchers wanted to see how E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella behaved on bruised fruit and intact fruit at shipping temperature, 35.6˚ F, and retail display 59.9˚ F. So they The bruised the berries inoculated them with bacteria and observed.

They found that the E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella did not grow on strawberries at shipping or retail display temperatures. But that  Salmonella did grow on bruised fully ripe blueberries at  retail display temperatures.

Salmonella causes an infection called salmonellosis.  Symptoms include abdominal cramps, fever, vomiting and diarrhea that can be bloody.

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Restaurants are Increasing Use of Blueberries in Menus

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DSCN3903FOLSOM, CA — Customer interest in healthy dining options is pushing colorful fruits onto restaurant menus, according to Technomic, which surveyed more than 300 foodservice professionals. 

 Though they are normally found in breakfast items, blueberries are showing up in dished served all throughout the day.  They are reported as the third most-purchased fruit, trailing only strawberries and apples, according to a press release.

“We learned from a top 500 chain menu survey earlier this year that blueberry mentions on menus boomed 97 percent between 2007 and 2013,” says Mark Villata, executive director for the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council (USHBC). “Now, this usage and attitude study gives us insight into why. That is, what are the drivers influencing decision makers to increase their use of blueberries?”

When asked why they like using blueberries, the survey reports that chefs and operators say:

*Blueberries are a healthy option for customers (82 percent)

*Blueberries are low-labor and easy to use (82 percent)

*Blueberries give the entire operation a health halo (58 percent)

*Menu prices can be higher for items that include blueberries (42 percent)

“Blueberries are delicious, healthy and versatile, and add to our menu,” says David Goldstein, executive chef at Los Angeles-based Sharky’s Woodfired Mexican Grill. “Our menu is loaded with fresh, healthy foods so when we put together our Harvest Quinoa Superfood Salad, we added dried blueberries. These days, I think customers expect to find blueberries in the healthiest options.” In addition, Sharky’s offers handmade, freshly prepared lemonades; one of their newest is Blueberry Mint made with fresh blueberries.

A survey conducted by Hebert Research in 2013 showed that 99% of Americans believe blueberries are healthy, according to a press release.  With demand for healthy menu items increasing, it will be interesting to see what dishes start showing up on menus.

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