New 2021 Program Launch, 20th Anniversary Awards Spotlight, “Business of Blueberries” Hits 25th Episode Milestone

Topics in this issue of Behind the Blue: Industry Companies Join USHBC in New 2021 Program Launch ‘The Business of Blueberries’ Podcast Reaches 25 Episodes! 20th Anniversary Awards Spotlight: Mike Makara Industry Companies Join USHBC in New 2021 Program Launch With a new year just around the corner, the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council (USHBC) is…

Topics in this issue of Behind the Blue:


Industry Companies Join USHBC in New 2021 Program Launch

With a new year just around the corner, the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council (USHBC) is hard at work on the launch of its 2021 strategy and consumer call to action: Grab a Boost of Blue. Designed to promote blueberry use throughout the day and increase demand throughout the year, the new positioning and strategy will be used in advertising, point of sale, social media, public relations and packaging to point consumer attention to the healthy boost of deliciousness they get from a handful of blueberries. 

To ensure the blueberry industry and retailers can immediately capitalize on its consumer promotion program, USHBC is developing comprehensive online resource hubs that will be released later this month. The hubs will feature ready-to-use tools and content, including how-to-tips and ideas; blueberry and recipe photography; banner ads; social media posts and ideas; health and nutrition content; QR codes and more. By early 2021, the online hubs will also house specialized toolkits to tie into six power-period campaigns and keep blueberries front and center all year: 

  • Heart Health Month (February)
  • Frozen Food Month (March)
  • Brain Health Month (June)
  • National Blueberry Month (July)
  • Diabetes Awareness Month (November) 
  • Holidays (October – December)

“Blueberries fit into every consumer’s life and our new strategic positioning coupled with smart promotions for power periods throughout the year is designed to inspire and motivate people of all ages and lifestyles to ‘Grab a Boost of Blue,’” said Jennifer Sparks, USHBC vice president, marketing and communications. 

Discussions with marketers and retailers are in full swing to align the industry and push the Grab a Boost of Blue positioning throughout all channels for the most widespread success. USHBC provides the new brand logo free of charge and encourages all blueberry growers, marketers and promoters to get on board and use the tools to their advantage. Early adopters of the logo, who are already licensed, include East-West Label Company, Chilean Blueberry Committee, CalGiant, Wish Farms, Sonoco and Oregon Blueberry Commission. Want to join these leaders in industry promotion and use the logo in your own promotions? Click here to sign the licensing agreement and gain access to the style guide and collection of Grab a Boost of Blue logos.  

“The more partners who join us in this effort, the more success we’ll see for the entire industry,” said Kasey Cronquist, USHBC president. “The opportunities are limitless.” 


‘The Business of Blueberries’ Podcast Reaches 25 Episodes!

“The Business of Blueberries” podcast reached a significant milestone last week with 25 episodes released! For its 25th episode, hosts Kasey Cronquist and Rod Cook were joined by Pablo Segovia of Legro Grou in The Netherlands, and Jordan Pratt, farm director for Kauai Organic Farms, to talk about the world of substrates and their uses in blueberry farming

That’s just one of the many topics “The Business of Blueberries” has touched on since it launched in June. Additional highlights include:  

  • Episode 8: USHBC and NABC: What’s the Difference?
    • In episode 8, Kasey sits down with Chris Barnhill and Ken Patterson, chairs of the USHBC and NABC, respectively. These two longtime industry leaders discuss the unique roles of the USHBC and NABC, and what the future looks like for both organizations.
  • Episode 13: The Robots Have Arrived
    • In one of the many technology-focused episodes, Kasey and Rod chat with Charlie Anderson of Burro Robotics and Paul Macrie of Macrie Brothers Blueberry Farm in New Jersey.
  • Episode 21: Promoting Blueberries With Jeff Malensky
    • In episode 21, Kasey interviews the newly appointed USHBC Promotions Committee Chair, Jeff Malensky, about the committee’s efforts to promote blueberries.

Since the podcast started in June, “The Business of Blueberries” podcast has been downloaded more than 7,000 times in 41 states and 30 countries. 

Check out our podcast page to see all the episodes published so far. The next episode of the “Business of Blueberries” will be released on Thursday and features a discussion on blueberry genetics with Dr. Paul Lyrene.  

Know someone who would be interested in this podcast? Please encourage them to sign up to receive live updates when new episodes are released.

20th Anniversary Awards Spotlight: Mike Makara

During this year’s NABC/USHBC Virtual Conference & Expo, USHBC honored 11 pioneers whose work has helped the blueberry industry grow and flourish over the last two decades. One of those winners was Mike Makara, former chair of British Columbia Blueberry Council, who won for Grower Innovation under the Good Practices subcategory. 

Mike has been involved in blueberries since childhood, having grown up on his family’s blueberry farm in Canada. After selling the family farm in 1991 to a company in eastern Canada, Mike continued on as manager of the ever-expanding operation, which eventually grew to 200 acres.

During this period, Mike was one of the founding shareholders of Berryhill Foods. After Berryhill Foods was sold, he started his own farm, which grew to 40 acres. Later, Mike became very involved in consulting for other blueberry growers and the British Columbia Blueberries Council Research Committee. 

Mike eventually became chair of BC Blueberries where he spearheaded research that introduced new technology and development to the blueberry industry. He served as president of NABC for two years and has been a valued presence for USHBC during his many years in the industry.

“I believe that the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council achieved this 20-year key milestone as a result of the dedication and hard-thinking philosophy of its members,” Mike said during his award acceptance remarks. “[USHBC] has led and continues to reach significant and key advances due to the leadership and dedication of its staff and all industry members and supporters.” 

Congratulations again to Mike. See the full list of award winners here.