Wild Blueberry School Foodservice Program Expands

December 28, 2017

Wild Blueberry School Foodservice Program Expands

Sales jumped by 57% in 2017, and Wild Blueberries are now being sold in 22 states, as opposed to 13 states in 2016

 

PORTLAND, MAINE — December 28, 2017 —    In a year that saw significant challenges for Maine’s Wild Blueberry industry, one program – launched last year by the Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine – has been a bright spot. According to the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service sales data, the Commission’s national Wild Blueberry School Foodservice Program increased sales by 57 percent in 2017, expanding from 1.18 million pounds sold in 2016 to 2.78 million pounds sold in 2017. Wild Blueberries are now being carried through the USDA Commodity Food Program in 22 U.S. states. New states added in 2017 were: Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington.

“We are energized by our successes with public schools,” said Nancy McBrady, Executive Director of The Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine, “and we have set an ambitious goal of increasing public school sales of frozen Maine Wild Blueberries to 5 million pounds within the next 2-3 years.”

McBrady explains that the Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine has employed a key strategy that differentiates Wild Blueberries from cultivated blueberries, emphasizing their taste and nutritional advantages and new USDA yield data, which demonstrates that one pound of frozen Maine Wild Blueberries provides 25% more servings than the same weight of frozen cultivated blueberries.

McBrady also noted that 36 U.S. states purchased blueberries in 2016, so Maine’s Wild Blueberry presence in 22 states represents well over 50% reach in all states using wild or cultivated blueberries in their school programs. Encouraged by its successes, the school foodservice program will kick off 2018 with an enhanced advertising strategy; expanded participation in national conferences and tradeshows; and a targeted list of new prospects, including cultivated blueberry strongholds, California and New Jersey.

“Each day, nearly 15 million breakfasts and 30 million lunches are served in over 100,000 U.S. public and private schools,” said McBrady. “We believe that Maine’s Wild Blueberries with their superior taste, twice the antioxidants, and kid appeal should have a permanent place at the table.”

About the Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine

The Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine was established to promote the ongoing prosperity of the Maine Wild Blueberry industry. It works on behalf of Maine’s 500+ growers and processers of Wild Blueberries in the areas of research and education, promotion, and policy. For more information visit wildblueberries.com.